September 18, 2002
I need to be nicer.

I'm a bit of a prick. I don't usually mean to be. I just have a hardcore intellectual upbringing, where things like tact and kindness were never part of the equation. What mattered was having your facts straight, and developing a reasonable opinion based on those facts. When someone disagreed with you, You could be relentless in battle, as long you stuck to the facts and reasonable assertions thereof. Think Fight Club.

The result was a passionate and unfailing energy to first decide what the facts were, and make sure your opinions did not disagree with them. This was the preeminate dogma of my childhood. And it worked very well. With that perspective, I could learn things as well as anyone. Reason was my God. I had an unfair advantage. :)

When I got to Jr. high, I became aware that the light of Reason had not yet shone upon many of my perceptions of the world. Things like God, authority (re: school) and freindship. I began to demand explanations when I was asked to do something for reasons I did not understand. "Why do I need to do this homework?" and questions of that type. Needless to say, Teachers don't like that. Principals hate it. That began an extended problem with authority. I just refused to accept it if it could not be defended. I was more than a "why?" brat. By the 9th grade, I knew as much about their jobs as they did (Me love libraries). So I was never without a counter-argument. They really, really, did not like me.

So I developed in my teenage years a sense of rebellion, as we all do. That I would not be able to exist in society as I percieved it being the person I was. People like me would not be treated well, as we cause too much trouble. I thought a lot about suicide, but frankly, I enjoyed way too much about life to end it. As miserable as I may sometimes have been, there was never a lack of joy about things most people take for granted. I still had (and still have) that essense of childhood wonder that makes life so wonderful.

I got by just fine. Made a lot of stupid mistakes, but I wouldn't be much fun if I hadn't. I went on to what I thought would be Heaven: a University. And that's where I first got the idea that my way could affect people in ways I did not want it to. It was the first week of ENG 102 (that I tested into). The 4th day of my college career. We were discussing slavery, the context escapes me. We went around the room, and people gave some thoughts. One young women said something about Jefferson's slaves not really being slaves b/c he let them learn to read. I was dumbfounded.

I ripped into her pretty hard. Didn't call her an ignorant little whore or anythihng like that. I just corrected the facts and expalined in rather direct terms why her conlusion was a stupid one. I was in college now, I didn't feel a need to hold back, as this person should be my equal.

She cried.

I've never been so stunned in my life. I'd 'corrected' people before. Nobody ever cried. That made an impact, to say the least. I don't think I was able to be disagreeable for a few days. I played that episode over and over in my head. I was not a mean person. Quite the opposite. But letting my hardcore Reason go unchecked was clearly making me appear to be one. So i worked on softening up my presentation in a classroom. It took some effort and help from freinds, but I got there. I could make valid criticisms and points without pissing anyone off. And it was a much better way, in that I stopped feeling the negative karma that typically followed a viscious outburst.

So I went about life for a few years with this kinder, gentler Reason. People stopped being afraid to talk, lest I disagree with them. I became a great deal less argumentative. Not soft, just nicer.

And then, I found Usenet. You know what they say about alcholics. Just one drink away from being a drunk. There, I could be an asshole. As long as I was Right, I didn't have to be nice. It was the Heaven I had expected college to be. It was a place I could be who I was at my very core. My Id was so very happy.

At the same time, I started working wit a group of guys that were just like me. Only more so. Some were smarter. Most were better educated. They were all Assholes. And reveled in it. So I picked up some of the habits I had broken before. Most of the time, I didn't need to be nice. I just had to be Right.

And I've manged to find trouble fairly easy ever since. I'm having to learn to keep my mouth shut again. And it's hard. I REALLY like explaining to people why they are wrong. Imposing my dogma is something I enjoy. Now I know why those Popes were so damn holy. Because once you get a taste of making people think how you want them to, you can't stop. Conversion is an intoxicating thing. Both converting others and converting yourself. Being wrong, and working though it with someone else until you are Right. That is a beautiful thing.

But I digress. The point here is that I'm a passionately reasonable fellow, who has trouble avoiding situations that ultimately degenerate into bad feelings. And I don't want to be punched or shot. Or my family to have to deal with any of the bullshit that get's thrown my way while I bring people around to my way of thinking.

It's time for me to let go of those desires, and return to the child-like wonderment and appreciation for Good Things. The abstract is not presently making actuality any better. So I'm cutting back on contributing too much energy to abstracts that do not directly benefit the flesh.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because I can. :P

Posted by danisaacs at September 18, 2002 12:57 PM

You made her cry? Your a bastard.You should get back to those grits and try, yes please try, to be a better person.

Posted by: Bob Roberts on September 18, 2002 04:55 PM

hey, yah! I'm still traumatized by some of those comments you left in my blog.. *sniff*

Posted by: kasia on September 18, 2002 08:46 PM

You aren't still upset about that Uptime thing, are you? :D

Posted by: Dan de Isaacs on September 18, 2002 08:54 PM
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