Don’t you love to holler, “GO POUND SAND!” when someone is trying to “help” you with a problem? This is often known as “willful ignorance” or simply “being childish.” Any way you slice it, it involves a person pretending reality isn’t happening, and that tactic is way more common than you’d think. In fact, a lot of us do it all the time.
Talents And Skills
When’s the last time you went to karaoke night at a bar? Did you manage to endure the entire evening without stabbing pretzels into your ears while angels turned their wings in? I would submit that this is nearly impossible. Karaoke has been its own punchline for decades – we expect that if we’re experiencing it, it’ll be bad. Maybe once in a while a real singer gets up there, but that’s like eating ten of those moldy peanuts before finding one that’s just salty and delicious. So why do bad singers keep going out in public to sing badly?
Actually, most bad singers don’t know that they sing badly. Again, if you’ve ever been to karaoke, you know this. You may even have a friend who has deluded themselves into thinking that when they bust out “Cat’s In The Cradle” on stage, it doesn’t actually sound like three cats in the blender. Watch any singing-based talent show. American Idol made its mark by spending a few episodes every season mercilessly mocking the tone-deaf and musically unstable. These people aren’t donkey-brained gluttons for punishment; they seriously don’t understand what they’re doing.
Also, look at the world of writing. I would assume that there are easily tens of thousands of people writing for money today who could not have done so without online publishing being a thing. So probably all of these writers assume they’re awesome.
When you do something you enjoy and think you do it well, it’s very hard to wrap your head around the idea that you kind of suck. It’s an insult to you if someone points it out. If they happen to, they’re the ones that suck. Jerks.
Of course, this isn’t to say that you need to stop singing or writing if you’re not as good as you think you are. Hell, you can probably only get better. But it does make you wonder about your own objectivity.
Alexander Pichushkin is a Russian serial killer known for beating his victim’s heads in with a hammer, then jamming a bottle of vodka into the hole. He was convicted of 49 murders. A woman named Natalya started writing him in prison and fell in love.
Serial killer Richard Ramirez actually got married in jail, while others like Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer, and Charles Manson routinely received love letters from scores of women. They actually have a name for this. It’s called hybristophilia – the attraction to someone who has committed an outrage. Jacked up, right? How common is it? There are dating sites exclusively for hooking up with people still in jail. Sites! Plural! Jail!
While serial killers are an extreme example and we can probably assume that these people may be suffering some kind of mental illness, you see variations on it all the time. How often have you heard someone describe the maniac next door on the news as a quiet guy who kept to himself? Marginally-talented jerk Chris Brown gets in the news for beating Rihanna to hell and back, and he has women on Twitter sending him messages about how they love him and making jokes about how he could beat them any time. He got back in the news for threatening to kill his current girlfriend. Mel Gibson sprinted down the list of insane racist things and managed to hit pretty much every item on the list, and he’s rumored to be in line to direct the sequel to Suicide Squad. It’s almost human nature to want to turn a blind eye to bad things about people, because we have to deal with them somehow. And it’s just easier to not worry about bad things, or to get it into your head that you can scrape away the bad and find the good within by fixing them.
The things we can agree on about politics are that the entire political process is stupidly insane and everyone else is always wrong. In the last American election, we had two major sides represented. We had the people who believed Donald Trump was the antichrist who would tell you how cold a room was even after you set him on fire, and that Hillary Clinton was America’s Obi-Wan. On the other hand were the people who are pretty sure Hillary Clinton has hooves, makes child prostitutes eat pizza, and maybe once sold all of America to a Filipino fisherman in exchange for some shiny rocks, while Donald Trump’s honesty and integrity would lead us into a new era of power ties. But who was right?
It’s easy to believe that both sides were more deluded than your dog thinking you’re BBQing those T-bones just for him. And the politics don’t even matter. It’s that we will go to the ends of the Earth to support not necessarily the person who has the qualifications and convictions we believe in, but the person who opposes the one we don’t. Did most people who voted Trump vote for him, or against Hillary? Is an election about making your country better or just metaphorically blasting everyone you think is dumb?
A voter, especially one with an axe to grind about this or that, would probably vote for a crate of PCP-addled beavers if it meant that the person they didn’t like wouldn’t get in. Who cares what anyone will do? It’s all about making sure someone won’t win and won’t have power. Because if they win, you lose. This is exactly how people react when an election is over. People cheer and say, “We won!” like a dad claiming “We’re pregnant” when we all know full well he’s not the one going into labor in a few months.
Most people just refuse to see the faults on their side of the fence, thanks to how much they hate the other side of the fence. And the worst part about that is both sides have us equally getting screwed over by the people on top who just watch the rest of us squabble while they do whatever they want.
If daytime TV has taught us one thing, it’s that no one who watches Maury has ever intentionally gotten pregnant. It also teaches us that a certain subsection of women can come home from work, find a pair of earrings that don’t belong to them, find a used condom on their pillow and a note written in lipstick on the mirror to their husband about how awesome his wiener is, and they will still require Steve Wilkos to give that man a lie detector test because they have a sneaking suspicion he may be cheating.
You’ve probably had at least one friend who was up to their eyeballs in a terrible relationship that they refused to end, on the head-shakingly stupid grounds that they loved the other person. It’s never said with conviction, and often sounds like a child whining about eating vegetables. “But I looooooove Gunther!” they’ll say. And you’ll say, “To hell with Gunther!” because Gunther has been sleeping with that one-legged lady who smells like Funyuns, and we all know it.
It’s not the other person’s infidelity that makes us so blind; it’s our own insecurity. Of course someone else could be unfaithful. But how could someone be unfaithful to me? This happens to other people, not to me. It’s almost a perversion of that issue of being blind to your own lack of singing skills – you feel like it reflects poorly on you, you don’t understand how you could possibly be messing this up, you don’t want to hear it. And of course in this case it’s not you, and your friends will always tell you that. But even the most confident amongst us still feels burned deep down inside when someone we really care about betrays us. It hurts us and makes us feel like we screwed up. So we can’t allow it. That used condom must have been stuck to the cat’s paw. That lipstick message is probably just the landlord stalking us. That Funyun stink is literally just Funyuns.
Generally speaking, the only way this situation gets resolved is when the person ignoring all the evidence finally gets tired of lying to themselves. You can tell them the truth 100 times over, and it won’t mean anything until they’re ready to hear it. That is a pretty awful truth in itself about the way the human mind can work, but it’s also the only way many of us will ever allow truth to sink in.