- Nothing Personal, I Just Don't Like You
- September 16th, 2003
I don't really like anyone.
Hmm, that didn't come out right. Let me clarify.
Individual humans, as we all know, can be bright, kind, wise, helpful, honorable, diligent, and generally decent people. But, as we also have all too much experience with, people as a whole are mean, selfish, useless morons with a mind-boggling herd mentality that causes them to follow any halfway decently presented idea that comes along, from the most banal to the pinnacle of evil.
As such, I have--for quite some time--been of the opinion that, for the purposes of dealing with People I Don't Know Personally, "Innocent until proven Guilty" is, for the most part, not a very realistic policy. This has come through painful experience. I don't make friends easily as a result; the few I have can attest to that. While I can--and do--deal quite civilly with people I don't know well (faking friendliness is a VERY useful skill), as a general rule I don't really trust them until I know them. And sometimes not even them.
Essentially, _they_ have to prove themselves to _me_.
There are some who say that I have to take the first step. Bollocks, say I. You can see what sort of person I am when you interact with me. There's no reason for me to make a special effort to reach out to someone I don't know. That doesn't mean I won't, neccesarily, or that when it happens it will be for selfish reasons. It simply means that, as a matter of course, the onus is on others to show that they are someone I'll want to be dealing with.
I used to try to reach out to everyone I knew, at least to some extent. I got burned. After I got burned enough, I re-evaluated the strategy. A cautious approach is, I think, better, though it should always be tempered by the idea that the person you're dealing with MIGHT be a decent person. It's like the old Russian proverb--"Hope for the best; prepare for the worst."
I think there's a lesson here. "If you want a friend, be a friend" is nice, but it's also naive in some very basic ways; it ignores the fact that there are users and predators, and assumes that good people are more common. Especially in this day and age, that isn't an assumption supported by the evidence. It's much better to see what you're dealing with first before opening the door.
I'm rambling, but there's a point here. You might have noticed...my Hell has both liberals and conservatives, home and abroad. I'm an equal-opportunity crank with more tolerance for some standpoints than others. I'm open about that. It's better you know what you're dealing with. It's only fair.
Besides...it's not like it's personal.
Like I said, I don't know you.