Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An Unapologetic Look at Apologies

My friends apparently provide people with a twenty-minute briefing before introducing them to me; or so I've been told. I've never sat through one of these, for I, being Coons, have to deal with me all of the time, so I'm good at it. Apparently, this briefing consists of an overview of my personality quirks, distorted worldview, and a helpful list of do's-and-don't's; much like the industrial workplace safety videos they show during employee on-boarding.

I am aware that my acerbic personality repels people, and I like this, because it only repels the wrong people. I make it a point to intentionally offend and repulse the people who want to bring me down. There are absolutely no disadvantages or harsh consequences to my choices, because if there were, they would have happened by now. Throughout my life, I was told that my poor attitude would get me nowhere, but this is demonstrably false, because I've been in a number of warm relationships, and I am doing well in my professional life.

Not everyone is as fortunate. My friend Steph, despite being smart, amiable, and pretty, was prone to feeling depressed, constrained, and belittled. (This was due, in part, to her habit of dating inferior, non-Ryan Coons men.) Her's was a life devoid of synergy, where venomous people would sedate her into submission with their Four Poisons. (I'll discuss the Four Poisons in a later post.) Eventually, she would crack, and call these people out on their bullshit -- and they instantly lose their power over her -- because they never had any power to begin with; just weaponized bullshit.

"Whenever I ask 'what would Ryan say to this person?' it always works out for the best," she said. "I want you to teach me!"

I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing. I was kinda shocked, really, because:

  1. There existed an actual, human person, somewhere, what wants me to teach them about how to properly conduct interpersonal relations.
  2. That person was Steph, of all people.
  3. I never gave much thought as to what I do, or why.

I like how this picture can't be definitively traced to any one decade.So, in my Bodhisattva compassion, I'm writing all of this out for others to enjoy. I have to warn you though, this is all a work in progress. Sections will need to be written and re-written for it to all tie together. The only real dogma is that there are no dogmas. I assume no liabilities regarding the consequences of following my advice. This is because I am not responsible for your actions -- you are -- and that's somethin' you need learn to deal with. You may take issue with my methods; if so, then go fuck yourself with a hammer, asshole. Steph wants and needs this -- and she is special to me.

I don't know where I should begin. I've no real way to know the pedagogically best way to present the thoughts I have to compile. However, the first thing to come to mind is:


This was revealed to me as a kid, I was playing at a friend's house, when something happened. I don't remember what, but is was dumb little kid stuff -- maybe his sister took his juice box, or bumped his head, or something. Anyway, he was crying, because he was a kid. His mom told his sister to apologize.

"Sorry," she said.
"Sorry isn't enough!" he shouted.

That struck me as being kinda deep, and it was at that moment, that I realized that apologies were crap. See, apologizing only acknowledges -- and does not resolve -- the transgression. Apologizing does not fix anything; only fixing things can ever fix things. Apologizing will never make anything better, but we are conditioned to think that they do. Without action, apologies are just words, which are meaningless and forgettable. This is readily apparent by the current trend of notpologies, which are now an acceptable form of apology. This slippery slope will lead to the death of accountability, watch.

Hell, if I were placated by empty apologies, I'd be out $400 right now, because Costco.com has terrible customer service that will try to screw you over. Was I rude in the process of getting my $400 back? Yes. Was it rude to try to screw me out of $400? Very yes. Do I feel bad about things I said? No, very no. While I'm sure the people I spoke with (and later jeopardized with legal action) did not approve of my heavy-handed approach. No worries, because:


I see people go through great lengths to win the approval of their peers, or to court their way into some clique -- but why?  Approval cannot charge a battery; it can't open cans; it doesn't remove stains; it cannot make your old vinyl car top look like new. What does approval do exactly -- and why do you need it?

In a lot of ways, approval is like virginity. It's a useless and arbitrary social construct used to inflict guilt upon those who lack it. Approval is not an "award," so much as it is the "absence of a punishment;" but it is still manipulation -- it just rebrands negative reinforcement (infliction of guilt) as being a positive thing (in this case, a passive indifference). No one ever praises someone for complying with social norms. No one praises the status quo; but the violators are punished with guilt. Life is much more enjoyable when you no longer strive to be approved off (so again, it's like virginity) because to do so denies others the means to inflict guilt upon you. To be truly free from negative emotional manipulation, you must free yourself from positive manipulation.

I could do a couple of posts on this topic alone; and I probably will, in time. In the end, the worthlessness of approval, and mathematics, were the only important lessons I learned in my high school years; the rest was just filler.

One example leaps out at me. I was back home on break from Purdue, when our... "interesting"... neighbors made the grievous error of trying to witness to me, wherein I had to smite them, outing myself as an antitheist to my mother in the process. Once the dust had settled, my mom and I had a nice heart-to-heart private conversation:

"Why did you say all those things?" asked my mom.
"I hate the Christ, and his Church on earth," I said.
"Since when?" she asked.
"September 2006," I said.
"Well, you can feel that way, but you just can't tell people that! What do you think will happen when everybody down at Our Lady of the Lake [my old parish] found out?"
"You never have to worry about that," I assured.
"How?" asked my mom.
"You never have to worry about them finding out, because they already know. I went down to the church, and asked to talk to a priest. I then explained who I was, and my relation to you, and Barb [my sister], and I listed all of my crimes against the church, and then demanded that he excommunicate me."
"What happened?" she said, with concern.
"He tried to lecture me in theology, but walked off in anger and disgust, after ten minutes."
"Ryan!" she shouted, with a pained expression. "And what'll happen when [prominent family of gossips within my old church] find out? Then what?"
"Do you see them around a lot?" I asked.
"Not really," she said.
"Have you had an extended conversation with them lately? "I asked.
"No," she said.
"...and... have you talked to them in the last... fifteen years?" I asked.
"No," she said.
"Do they really know who we even are?" I asked.
Then, my mother achieved enlightenment. Everything was as it should be.

There's a funny Part II to this story, but I'll save it for later. I though that the best part of that whole fiasco was that I had to introduce myself to Fr. Bill, which is kinda funny, because he straight-up perpetrated an assault against me -- in front of a crowd of people -- on X-Mas, 2006. Apparently priests almost-punch so many people that they can't keep 'em all straight. Apparently I "violated the sacred species" -- which, according to Catholic dogma, is literally worse then genocide -- but that's a story for another time.

This post is the first third, or so, of what I want to say, regarding apologies. I will post the other parts soon.

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