Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Why We Crucify Truth Tellers (and Why They Deserve It)

You're in a theater viewing a gripping horror movie. You turn around and peer at the audience. Everyone is in the familiar transfixed state of cinematic hypnosis. They're not them, sitting with those bodies in those chairs in this theater. Rather, they've framed themselves into the movie. They're the protagonist. And, because it's a horror movie, they're horrified.

You feel special/superior because you see “the truth,” while they seem lost in delusion. That’s wrong (it’s your first mistake). They, like you, are simply making choices. Framing choices. In fact, if anything, they’ve made the smarter choice, whereas you’re the kook perversely ignoring the show you chose to attend.

One audience member seems particularly aggrieved. Tears stream down his cheeks, his face is beet red, and his eyes bug out in sheer panic. You tap this stranger on the shoulder.
Tap tap tap.

Tap tap tap.
Startled, he pivots his head to gape at you.
"It's just a movie, buddy. You're okay."
He has three possible responses. One is insane but common, and the other two are sane but rare (and one might lead to your crucifixion).

Insane but Common Response:
An obvious framing error. Some people have less pliant perspectives. Insanity is the inability to reframe despite clear environmental cues.
Sane Response #1:
Oh. Wow. Right. Phew. Thanks! [returns attention to movie and starts getting worked up again - hey, his choice!]
Sane Response #2:

In case you didn't realize, this isn't about movie theaters. It's a parable about people needlessly stuck (frozen perspective, remember?) in a hyper-dramatic mind frame while living comfortably in Utopia, and the perils - and improprieties - of trying to help them.

In the above parable, you've only irritated one single person. But if you try this, loudly, in the world at large, you'll be ruining the show for a large crowd. People will be enraged and they're not wrong. You know full well that show-spoilers are hateful creatures (the very definition of "impolite"). You broke that covenant.
Self-destructive people, for example, may seem irrational, but they're not. They're acting out a drama, just as we all are, but tweeking parameters for more challenging gameplay. They're working on a more advanced level, that's all. You can get away with helpfully tapping their shoulder once, but, if you persist after they've waved you off, you're deliberately ruining the movie...and deserve their wrath.
Here's how truth tellers reach this point. Having forgotten yourself in the pretending (like everyone else), your grippy identification with fake drama leads to trauma, and you find yourself tossed awake by the tumult, as sometimes happens during nightmares. You suddenly Remember - briefly, before turning back to the dramatic narrative. Your first impulse is to look around you, and you observe that people are needlessly gripped by fictional self-concocted trauma. Having recognized this, clear-eyed for just a moment, the next observation is that everyone seems to need everything more than you do.

So you see the problem and you want to help. Cool! But it’s a dangerous error to assume that people - even traumatized people - want to be reminded that they're pretending. It's one thing to ruin the 7:35 screening of “Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child”, but it's quite another to ruin the painstakingly crafted epic story of "My Life and Victimhood and the Weighty Burden I Bear Despite Being a Really Nice Person and Thursdays are Hard Because My Parakeet Died on a Thursday".

Never forget that human beings choose to ride rollercoasters. Human beings pay to ride rollercoasters (here's the broad view on rollercoasters and drama and movies and pretending).


Anonymous coward said...

I like this post a lot, but I may be misunderstanding the post. Let's say somebody has their mind all wrapped up in a drama ridden epic fantasy that their pretending to play out. In this completely epic self centered story the person is a smoker and anyone who says that smoking is bad for them is a "health fascist."

"the tobacco industry and its front groups abused and distorted history to condemn tobacco control measures as Nazi policies and its advocates as “health fascists.”8"

Within the pretending climate change is a hoax and communist plot. Vaccines are Satan's tool and cause autism. Witches lurk behind every corner and must be burned at the stake. The world is flat and exactly 6,000 year old. Completely invisible demons haunt their life. Affirmative action is reverse racism.

All their woes and problems can be blamed on the above in a Greek tragedy. The person believes they are an extremely nice person, yet lives a life of victim-hood and impossible burdens. If anyone reminds the pretender that the above doesn't exist, then they are the enemy. For example, if someone was to point out that there is a 97% scientific consensus on climate change, that person is a truth teller and deserves to be crucified.

If that person has an autistic relative/friend and you tell them Satan doesn't exist and vaccines are safe you are breaking the illusion and risk sane response #2.

Option #2, you mean only for paid fantasy like movie theaters and roller coasters. That I can agree on the person paid good money to get distracted from real life, relationship issues, health, money, etc. By breaking the illusion you are interfering with people's ability to cope.

I have had cheaters in online game use the truth teller excuse to justify cheating and other anti-social behavior. "It is only a game." "I am just reminding you this is a game chill." In other words, in the cheaters mind it is okay to give themselves all sorts of advantages within the game since it is only a game and they are breaking the illusion. It is okay to curse someone out and perform every cheap trick in the book because they are saving you from the spell of the game.

All in all, I think people need to be broken of the first category but not the 2nd. That if everyone was silent about the first many more people would suffer. Breaking the illusion within a movie theater, roller coaster, or online video game is a form of theft. Yes, the person in your example Leff is robbing the person of the immersive experience that they paid for. I personally hate it when people talk too much during movies since it deprives me.

Display Name said...

Have you seen behind the curve Jim? Now I wanna after reading this:

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