Monday, September 14, 2009

Karma Chameleon

Action-Reaction I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that there are certain people that will never admit, even grudgingly, that President Obama has done or might do something good. I told someone the other day that the guy could find a cure for cancer, and these types of people would somehow, some way, find fault with it...even if they were undergoing radiation or chemo treatments themselves. It is a strange and amazing phenomenon to me. But this isn't an entry about politics, believe it or not, because it's gotten me thinking about the broader view.

Much like Monty Python's Argument Clinic, I've experienced people in my life who are automatic gainsayers. Whatever your position on something, they take an immediate and diametrically opposed position. If you say it's hot outside, they say, "Oh, I don't think it's all that hot." If you say you love tomatoes, they say, "Ugh, they're disgusting." If you say you enjoyed a particular movie, they say, "Are you kidding? That movie sucked." All silly examples, but then it's silly behavior. It's one thing to play devil's advocate; it's quite another to automatically disagree with whatever a person says. You soon realize that "Gee, this might be personal. In fact...I don't think they like me!"

There is nothing wrong with disagreement. That is how ideas are exchanged and how we broaden our minds. I believe it's important to try to see another point of view, whether it's about politics, personal issues, religion, or music, or any other of a myriad of topics. It's how we learn a broader world view as citizens of the world, learning about others and their cultures. It's how we grow as people, making friends with those who are from other areas or practice different lifestyles or have a different perspective on issues. (Blogging is wonderful for that!) It's all part of our journey through life, and for the most part, our life is made all the richer because of the wide variety of people and opinions that we meet along the way (there are always a few notable exceptions). Simply saying "If you love this, I hate it" is small-minded and foolish, because it can deprive us of some wonderful experiences, and we can miss out on things because of our inability to get beyond our stubbornness, anger, and hatred.

The opposite also holds true. There are types that suck up to you, for whatever reason, and whatever it is that you like, they like it, too. They agree with everything you say, and put you on a pedestal. Personally, the last thing I want in a relationship is to be put on a pedestal, because when you eventually fall of it--or are knocked off--it can hurt. I also don't want a Yes Man, someone who says, "Yes dear whateveryousaydear." Jeez, grow a pair, already. I'm not always right, no one should always get their way, and how can I respect my partner if he is afraid to speak up and give his viewpoint? In my dating days, it was my experience that the harder a guy tried to suck up to me, and the more he fawned over me, the more pathetic I came to view him. Respect and admiration are good; abject groveling is unattractive.

Chameleon We've all seen "chameleon" behavior: those whose convictions are apparently weak enough that they are unable to stand for what they believe in. They take on the characteristics of whoever they happen to be around. They may hate something one day, but come to embrace it another, or vice versa, merely because of the company they keep. Sometimes, they try to use it to their advantage, constantly seeing which way the wind is blowing and adjusting their course accordingly. It's opportunism without substance, and sometimes you get the impression that there are deeper issues in their desire to please. Parental issues, perhaps? Hard to know, but I'm sure there are many different reasons. We all change certain viewpoints over time, and that is also part of personal growth. Simply going with the flow of whoever you're around is not personal growth, however.

Both behaviors are nothing more than reactionary. Whether you hate the person or are infatuated with them, the automatic response is mindless and vacuous. It tells me that you have a hard time coming up with ideas and concepts of your own; if everything I do or say generates an auto-response, what has happened to your critical thinking? What has happened to your ability to have a thought that isn't initiated by me? There are always hot topics of the day that everyone discusses, and blog etiquette generally means not starting a flame war on someone's blog. That's just common courtesy, and I think most of us believe that if you have such strong opinions, perhaps you should start your own blog and write about them there. But seeing anyone, whether personally or in Blogtropolis, mindlessly gainsaying another person is lame, in my opinion. As those sages of 80's pop music, Culture Club, sang:

I'm a man without conviction

I'm a man who doesn't know

How to sell a contradiction

You come and go

You come and go

To paraphrase a friend of mine, when you have no moral compass of your own, you go where the prevailing winds take you. That can be a treacherous choice, and you can lose your sense of self. If it weren't so pathetic and creepy, I might find it funny...but it's really kind of sad. Which route will you take? Will you merely react? Or will you be an action hero?

Sailing away2

12 comments:

  1. A great post, Beth. That quote about 'no moral compass' was excellent.

    be well...

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  2. I forget where I read it, but someone said where were all these protesters when Bush was drowning our country in dept. the past 2 terms. It's a good question and makes you wonder if it's the issue or as you said Obama that people have problems with.

    It's sad that they can't come to terms with the fact he didn't put us in this mess, he's simply trying to clean up Bush's. (Hugs)Indigo

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  3. A wonderful post dear, very insightful and full of useful information. I love you for who you are, sweetpea :o) [LMAO]

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  4. Oh yes!!! This makes me crazy and reminds me of a guy I dated briefly who was a chameleon yet also controlling. He got on all my nerves.

    Good post! Well done!

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  5. I wanted to say the same thing Indigo did, actually..lol

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  6. great comments. And I have run into people who think if they can be beligerent it will make you change your mind. I had one say to me..YOU, now are you sorry that you voted for Obama??? Hell no. That poor guy inherited a mess from hades courtesy of the double Bush dimwits...they had years between them to screw it up and sink useless money into one useless war after another...some of these people really make me sick,,,,,

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  7. thank you Beth!
    you're almost waxing poetic?!!
    !
    huggggggggggs
    natalie

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  8. Beth a great post that I enjoyed very much. I dread meeting people who are chameleons. Taking a stand isn't that difficult.

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  9. I know the two behaviors you describe as "contrarianism" and "people-pleasing." When it comes to personal relationships, you can be sure either reflects a parental relationship. Either behavior is a survival tool, usually the result of a hypercritical father or a placating, approval-seeking mother.
    You can be sure the rightwing haters have some of the least enviable personal relationships on the planet. Anyone who can listen to the drivel on Fox news is not very happy.
    And notice how they'e 99% white? Working class and retired stiffs who have been convinced that they have the same interests as the class they aspire to, and will never join. It's sad.

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  10. I echo Mark's comment. I also point to another type of personage who goes in this group I think. There are those who cannot bear to be disagreed with. They don't start out to be beligerent but you'd better not disagree or offer a conflicting point of view. I became a chameleon until I was an adult because if I disagreed with anything said at home I would bring down the fires of hell on me. I have some compassion for those people because I know where they are probably coming from. Those who argue for the sake of arguing are just simple bullies. Who was it who said that if he walked on water people would say he couldn't swim. DB

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  11. sometimes in life a person will act like they are your friend when in reality they hate you. They have no real thoughts of their own....they are stupid, lazy, hateful, etc and if you stand up for something and they are too cowardly to do so, they'll hate you just because deep down they know you are more real than they can ever be. Cowards, they are. An empty hole where a heart should be. In the end karma is gonna get them for their crappy deeds in life.

    if they only understood that they only have one chance at life and could drop dead at any moment and what a damn waste to spend their short time on earth being empty/stupid, etc. when instead they could have made a difference instead of pathetic.

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  12. People are crazy, at least republicans and Sarah Palin in particular. People like the tea party don't act like humans. They are seriously deranged.

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I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?