Please note that I am addressing a rough collective of individuals, not the company. (That would be a whole other rant.)
One of my e-kids had a great quote in their signature a few years ago that I absolutely adore: “Being well-adjusted to an unhealthy society is not a sign of good mental health.” What this means is that there are certain universal principles of decency and compassion that supersede politics and social conventions, and that there is nothing wrong with a person if they recognize that politics and social conventions are not consistent with those universal principles. Rather, there is something very, very right with a person if they recognize these things.
But how does society enforce unhealthy standards among individuals? This occurs when a social convention is challenged by an individual, but the surrounding individuals do not perceive that the convention must be challenged (for whatever reason), so they in turn challenge the original individual.
See, there are actually two potential endings to “the Emperor’s New Clothes”. To refresh your memory, the gist of the story was that a couple of swindler’s pretended to make a suit for the Emperor that you can’t see if you’re really stupid, which meant that everyone pretended to see how beautiful it was to avoid looking stupid. When the little boy points out that the Emperor is stark raving naked, either everyone around him realizes that they’ve been duped and they point and laugh at the “Crown Jewels” OR they insist on clinging to their disinformation about the nature of the cloth (and thus their stupidity) and turn on the boy for being stupid himself.
In this day and age, it’s now become very en vogue to fall squarely into the latter category. That’s incredibly obvious in the political (governmental) arena, but remember that a society cannot act against the nature of its individuals, and so that same defense of dogma (“Of course there are clothes there!”) is turned internally both on direct associates and within the selves (we suspect).
To cut to the chase a bit, when someone starts thinking outside the box and they are not supported by their peers, there’s usually one of two reasons. The first is that their peers cannot relate to the outside-the-box thinking presented by this someone. The second is that the peers have an invested interest in that someone adhering to the original social convention. In other words, the peer group is served (often in unhealthy ways) by the individuals keeping with an unhealthy perspective.
Here’s an example: Abby is going to school for accounting. Her friends Brad and Cynthia totally “support” her in her pursuit of an accounting degree. Brad “helps” Abby by “letting” her do his taxes for his business. He’s receiving a direct benefit from her experience by getting his taxes done essentially for free. Cynthia is also in a business major and loves studying with Abby in many classes. Then, one day, Abby realizes that she doesn’t really like accounting. She only got into it because her parents said it would be a “stable career”. Abby really loves nature and geology and archaeology and things like that, and she’s thinking of switching majors and following her dreams of being the next Indiana Jones.
Brad is going to lose his free tax prep, so he tells Abby that it’s a terrible idea and that she’s wasting her talents on this pie-in-the-sky thing, there are hardly any jobs in archaeology, and it’s very irresponsible of her. Cynthia wants to be a good friend even though she’s afraid of losing her study partner – which is something that she really needs sometimes – so she says that she understands Abby’s feelings on this, but maybe she should think about teaching or managerial development instead.
Neither is actually listening or even really caring about what Abby wants or how Abby feels. They each want her to continue serving their purposes, which often comes with an element of convenience for them – and people are, in general, deeply devoted to their conveniences.
Here’s the really, really tough part: Hardly anyone will ever recognize that they are being a Brad or a Cynthia. They will tend to think that they are being the True Friend and Being Wise And Supportive. It takes balls (ovarios?) to look at yourself and honestly examine your own motives and truly put someone else’s true nature and true needs ahead of your own.
There is a situation like this that I’m dealing with as we speak. I’m not going to get into specifics or name names or anything, but I realized somewhere in the last couple of days that the phrase or sentiment “think of the children!” is the worst underhanded manipulation one can use. It’s designed to turn off the higher brain functions and force the individual to act purely from a sentimental point of view, and we all know that emotions can be much more easily manipulated than reason. And because everyone has an opinion about “how to raise kids well” – not all of which is based on direct experience – when actions are suggested that go counter to a “conventional” model, there is a great deal of panic and fear, often resulting in attempted manipulations.
Here’s a direct message that will mostly make sense to those for whom it is intended, and will act as a warning to anyone who might fancy pulling the same type of crap in the future: Handle up on your own emotions before calling mine into question. I am not mentally unstable because I find fault in a known broken system. I am not irrational because I insist on exploring options to not fall prey to that broken system. A little clarity and honesty from you would go a long way to bridge the problem, but more than that, listening honestly and not putting my words through your filter will go even further.
I am not one to suffer fools lightly. I’ve actually tried this in the past, but I realized that in leaving room for people who Just Don’t Get It, I was giving them room and permission to wreak havoc in my life. I will not make that mistake again.
It’s another way to say, “Stand with me, cheer me on, or get the hell out of my way.” My “potential” has been the stuff of legends for years, and now that I’m preparing to realize it, gods help the soul that tries to interfere. That’s not to say I don’t want input – I love input, it’s good stuff – but the first sign of emotional manipulation or half-truths, and there will be hell to pay.