Since my recent birthday I’ve found my mind dwelling on more serious subjects than I’m used to discussing.
I’m not saying I’ve grown up and become all adult-like, I’m not sure that’s a realistic possibility at this late stage in development.
I do seem to find myself wallowing on subjects that are more suited to the kind of battlefields populated by Social Justice Warriors and Ley-Heroes.
These subjects are triggered by my proximity to toxic environments and escalated by an overactive care-gland.
Homophobia, Misogyny, Racism…
None of these things affect me directly but they seem to spike a massive negative emotional response in my betazoid-center.
I encounter this kind of prejudice on a daily basis (to a greater or lesser degree), almost always it’s aimed at others but it riles me none-the-less.
Every time I face this kind of idiocy, the quixotic Hannuman inside of me rises and I face a primal choice:
Fight or Flight?
I’ve lost count of the number of battles I’ve lost but every now and then I win and the world within my reality tunnel gets that little bit lighter.
It’s not the losses that I’ve fought that weigh me down though; not every battle can be fought.
A friend recently posted that she had faced this kind of harassment in her workplace.
My friend’s boss had remarked upon his right to ogle the female form (ergo her own – specifically the breasticular area).
All my friend could do was rebuke the statement and attempt to put this man in his place.
The problem is, this man is in a position of power – he pays the wages, hires, fires and feels he can ogle away… and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
I’ve seen it many times, a bigoted individual in a position of power lording over their underlings.
Whether it’s the lady manager who insists on forcing male staff members to watch as she injects insulin into her upper-inner thigh or the company Director who makes comments over the quality of an employee’s sister’s breasts over a team meal; this behaviour is wrong but unbeatable.
In all these cases the offended party is either under the minimum two year employment period that it takes to actually have employment rights in this country or they do not have the support structure in their lives to make fighting the battle worth the effort.
In the case of my friend and her tit-happy employer, I was pleased to see the support her friends and acquaintances gave to her.
Many folk offered suggestions of comedic or even violent responses – not helpful directly but sometimes you need this kind of feedback to help pull you out of the pit that this kind of encounter can knock you into.
And then somebody asked her a question, the answer to which made me stop and think, to paraphrase:
How do you work there without throwing someone from a window?
The answer my friend gave really struck home:
I have a little Give a Fuck switch in my brain which goes from “Do” to “Don’t”, and a proven response time in flicking it.
I know exactly what she means… I have the very same switch.
I’m fairly confident that without that switch I’d either be in prison, hospital or worse.
What strikes me me harder is that since reading that exchange I have encountered a number of other people, from different social circles, that have used the very same analogy.
We have that one switch in common that allows us to turn off, tune out and move on.
The difference lies in how quickly we flick the switch.
Many years ago I realised that my own problem is that I care too much.
I’ve had a couple of psychological evaluations over the years that have highlighted a deeply ingrained need to help others and an over reliance on stressful and often negative or toxic environments.
I think I recently developed some kind of “Givafuk Switch” to help me handle those aspects of my personality and I just haven’t noticed until reading the horrors of my friend’s working environment earlier this week.
The switch helps us survive.
It keeps us in a position where we can continue to accrue survival tokens whilst we regroup and plan a strategy to win the war.
The switch helps us choose the battles we fight, so we can pick the fights we know we can win and not waste energy on those battles that are clearly unwinnable.
I discussed this at length today, with friends and colleagues and the only sensible counterpoint made was regarding those that come after us.
The switch is great for those of us on the front line now but what about those that face the same foe later on.
We’ve avoided a fight by flipping the switch and retreating but the foe is under the misapprehension that they have won a battle that never happened.
The deluded foe could go onto the next victim and there is nothing to stop the situation escalating to a greater degree of harassment – we could even be that next victim.
So the switch can be a double edged sword – a sword that my inner Monkey King is willing to wield and one that I am glad to see in the hands of other people of worth.
As it is I’m going to continue to pick my battles and rely on a newfound switch-based psychopathy to avoid the problems that giving a damn brings with it and fight another day.