Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fight or...fight

Today I have been thinking a lot about frailty and dominance. For the purpose of literary organization and making me feel less like a mental patient, I’m going to say the two are interconnected. Just looking at your average human being, I can’t help but notice how inherently weak we are. No claws or scales or even protective fur. We are all soft fleshy underbelly and veins too close to the surface. Without our intellect and ability to make and use tools, we’d be long extinct. But if you believe that there is an inherent awareness of this reality, it starts to give reason to a lot of the stranger human behaviors. Looking down at my own pale, ineffectual hands laced with blue veins, I have a desire to prove that my weakness is a deception, a front for the really violent, malicious monster that lies within and is able to both defend and attack any threat. Don’t call me soft and fleshy. So maybe that’s why we have these strong fight or flight instincts; maybe that’s why we climb into our cars and get all road rage-y and yell at the guy who won’t wave our late fees or forgets to add fries to that. We know, deep down inside, we are just a few apocalyptic losses of technology away from being knocked down to the middle of the food chain by a big bear claw. And not the yummy sugar & fat bear claw. Today I had the pleasure of being yelled at in broken English by a guy who was, ironically enough, mad at me for firmly threatening him with consequences for breaking the rules. Repeatedly. Granted, he didn’t put anyone at risk, but he broke the rules, and as the person in charge of enforcing said rules, I came down on him with a very firm, “I almost had to…be more careful next time!” So I got yelled at, by the same guy, for not being nice enough, and because I am in a customer service position, part of my job is to apologize to the angry person in the wrong for hurting their feelings. Which got me asking that one big question, why? Why is it so common to shout and stomp and belittle the person who has no direct effect on anything when we feel threatened? Why is that the first place most of us go? And why does taking that abuse make me feel like I should go snap a pencil in half, or knock down someone’s Lego tower, or crack my knuckles and stomp around in a really serious, self-important way. For the aforementioned reasons, I’m going to say our inherent frailty makes us act out, as a display of false strength. And I’m not totally wrong. That’s why we associate larger tempers with smaller people, it’s not just over compensation, it’s also compensation. Nature knows that, which is why little guys pack a big punch (I’m thinking scorpions, spiders), while the big guys can usually get away with a show of force (I’m looking at you bears and sharks). Which makes me feel 0.1% validated after being yelled at, and before being yelled at again, because the day is young. But, ya know, science is cool.

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