October 2, 2009

Part 2: Why Can't Kids Walk Alone To School

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From part 1, here.


Narcissists don't feel guilt, only shame.  Since we are a generation of narcissists, we can't see other people's perspectives, so we extrapolate:  we assume that no one else feels guilt either.  (And that's probably accurate.)

If guilt is gone, then there are no internal controls to a person's behavior, only external ones.   Follow along:

You may have even been to a psychiatrist a few times-- god knows millions of other people have-- and you're actually normal... imagine how messed up other people are!

And be honest, look into your heart: you're a pretty twisted person.  You saw Halloween in the theatre on a weekday at 10pm.  At points, the audience was laughing.  You know they're not all serial killers, but... isn't that weird?   Well, you laughed at one point, too, but you have control.  How much can you trust them, in certain circumstances...?  

And I know you and your wife would never try to get your 16 yo cheerleader/babysitter drunk and seduce her, duh, obviously.   But that concept is arousing, right?  Nothing to feel guilty about, of course, you're not actually doing it...

Here's the problem.  Sometime around KROC Howard Stern, admitting such thoughts went from being acceptable ("as long as you don't do it") to commonplace.  So there's no associated guilt with the thought, at all.  I'm not judging whether there should be guilt, only observing that there definitely isn't any anymore.  Include here masturbation, pornography, etc. 

So the issue isn't whether there are pervs who might try to seduce your daughter on a babysitting gig after cheerleading practice; you already assume everyone is thinking it, because if you don't feel any guilt, why would they?   What you're left wondering is to what degree external controls-- shame-- are a strong enough disincentive-- word chosen very carefully-- for the other guy.  And the answer you're going to come up with is: if there's a way they can get away with it, not very strong.

Societal narcissism has put us in a bit of a bind.  

  • We don't believe that guilt will will control a person's behavior, because we don't feel any guilt in ourselves. 
  • We are very aware of the gigantic numbers of people that have easy access to us, but they are mostly supporting cast in our movie that we know nothing about because we do not really want to know anything about them, so we assume they're like us-- unable to feel guilt.
  • if you consider yourself ethically/morally above average-- despite the porn, cheating, self-serving lying, then it is entirely logical to assume most people you see in the street are cannibals. 
  • And the external controls you place on your kids and on strangers as protection end up being reminders that you haven't done an adequate job of preparing your child for life.
This is the result: you hover more, trust less, live with an unrelenting low level anxiety, and masturbate a lot.


And back in the day-- sorry, back in a time you assume existed based on what little you know of it from watching Mad Men or Family Ties-- you could at least trust that women were more moral and upstanding, they kept the men in check.  So the fact that a guy was married was one point in his favor.  But nine seconds of any modern TV drama-- Private Practice, Brothers and Sisters, whatever-- let you know that a perfectly normal, mannered, intelligent woman will sleep with a guy they don't even like not just for lust or money or revenge-- but for absolutely no reason at all.   They're not just immoral, which is fun; they're amoral, which is terrifying.

"Are you saying women are amoral?" --- No, I'm saying the message men (and women) constantly get is that women are amoral.  You did nod three sentences ago, right?  Since you are too much of a narcissist to know what women think-- I don't mean you aren't interested, I mean you are unable-- how would you know if TV is wrong?

What happens to society when the kids are taught not to feel safe with women?  Guess we'll find out.


"Are you talking about me?"-- of course not you, you're different.


This is a good time to point out that when we were kids, we were allowed to walk alone to school, to ride bikes without helmets, got spankings, took our chances down at the creek.   Now we're adults.  Look around at the results.  Perhaps walking to school alone wasn't such a good idea after all.