How Do You Use People?

How do you use people?

Does that question bother you, make you uncomfortable, make you want to perhaps vent in my general direction and say something along the lines of – I never use people!

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How to get Users hooked

Having trouble reading the smallprint? Find this article and others like it in Wired magazine (this is from the previous issue).

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Is it really true that you never use people.

You’ve never turned to a friend when you needed a shoulder to cry on. You’ve never asked a colleague for help. You’ve never requested a favour from anyone. Never asked for an opinion, for advice, to borrow something, fished for a compliment, wanted a ‘Like’ to make you feel loved, needed support or encouragement. You’ve never compared yourself to someone else favourably or unfavourably. You’ve never needed support or encouragement and perhaps used others to get it.

You’ve never ordered anything in a restaurant, not even a coffee in a coffee shop. No one picks up your trash. You don’t need a postman or delivery guy to bring you anything as you never communicate with anyone or need them to communicate with you. You don’t have a computer, you never order anything online, so it doesn’t need a team of interconnected people to do stuff to get stuff to you. You’ve never been ill and needed someone to diagnose you, look after you or make you better. You don’t wear ready-made clothes, or buy materials to make your own. You don’t need electricity or running water, heating or air-conditioning, or a roof over your head. You don’t have gadgets or tools, never watch TV. You don’t work in business and don’t need anyone to buy your product. You don’t buy products… ever… so you don’t need businesses or their support team, or complaints department, or anything.

And you never go online to look things up and search for answers to your questions.

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“The deadline for this article was fast approaching and I found myself bereft of ideas. Bewildered, I searched the TMZ headlines for some story – any story – that could be ripe for pop psychoanalytic scrutiny:

What might Renee Zellweger’s astonishing new look say about the state of women in society today? What does Chris Brown’s string of tragic break-ups reveal about the human psyche? Miley Cyrus and Patrick Schwarzenegger – are they driving the party bus or is the party bus driving them?!” – Treyvon Martin or Miley Cyrus: The Psychology of Denial by Tiffany McLain via PsychedinSanFrancisco.

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You’ve never quoted anyone else’s words. Repeated a story which someone else has told you or ever listened to anyone and absorbed their words. You don’t read. You’ve never learned anything from anyone in person or through any other medium. You don’t write and therefore don’t need anyone to else to read your writing. You’ve never needed anyone to listen to you or absorb your words. You don’t give understanding and certainly don’t want it. Sympathy is for others, as is empathy and everything else.

You don’t participate in social media, thus you don’t need anyone else to participate with you in social media or any social setting. You’re fine with others ignoring you as you ignore them.

You were never born, or needed your diaper changing.

You do this whole experience of living from start to finish by going it solo.

Okay, so you never use people, but do people ever use you?

Did you read that question and immediately jump to a conclusion about it. Was that conclusion positive or negative. If it was negative, did a positive come out of it.

Did it make you stop and consider the way that people use you, and did considering that make you wonder about how you use people.

When you think about it without focusing on just one aspect of it, the negative aspect, you realise the extent to which we are all intricately connected. How much we all use and need each other and a lot of that is okay because we’re all doing it mutually one way or another.

Even that person who is adamant that they don’t need anyone, still needs people for them to be someone who does not need people.

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“You’re using me right now. You’ve been using people all of your life. And, in most cases, that’s okay.” – When It’s Okay To Use People by Charlie Gilkey via Productive Flourishing

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The problem with the word ‘use’ is that we often give it a negative connotation. Associate it with manipulation.

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9 more words...Those 9 more words include – Capricorn: “I use”

Now many other signs “use” Capricorn as a “bad” guy but only Capricorn is “bad” for “using” even when the other signs benefit from the “uses” of Capricorn.

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It can indeed be a negative experience, one which leaves us with the feeling that someone else has tipped the balance of give and take unfairly (in favour of themselves and not us, if it was the other way around….?) and taken advantage of us and our inclination to give and to be useful. We all like to feel useful, needed, of service and help to a degree… which is why we are all vulnerable to be used by those who aren’t so humanitarian as we would like everyone one to be (at least towards us). If you’re human and have interacted with other humans, chances are at least a few of those interactions have left you feeling used and useful in a way which makes you want to become a Grinch and a Scrooge before his epiphany.

When I was a child my mother would regularly recite the words which had been recited to her as a child growing up during WWII and rationing times – Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without. In other words, stop being wasteful, whiny, and other such things and learn to appreciate what you have rather than squander it and focusing on what you don’t have and want because you don’t have it. Eat your vegetables as there are starving children in the world who would kill to eat them. Of course my mother’s messages to me were always a bit contradictory as they often included funny anecdotes of her child self offering to put her rejected peas into an envelope to mail them to a starving child, then being punished for smart-mouthing an adult who was trying to teach her a lesson. She did this while trying to teach me a lesson… I was confused by which lesson I was supposed to learn. Which became even more confusing as I got older because I realised that the lessons which she had been taught as a child which she was sort of passing on to me had seriously confused her.

She used me up, wore me out, made me do and then when I wouldn’t do… she did without. She’s one of those people who forgets you exist or denies your existence when you’re not useful or refusing to be used in the way she wants to use you. However if you accuse her of being a manipulator she would adamantly deny it, and proceed to lecture you on her endless generosity and how other people are the users and abusers in this world, but not her. She is polite to a fault.

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“Speaking out against others’ verbal mistreatment isn’t easy for people who are used to being polite. Walking or running away in a situation where you’re clearly trying to avoid someone feels like delivering a horrible insult. Yet, obeying social norms in these situations could make us vulnerable to verbal abuse or worse.

I don’t want to live in a society without please and thank you, but I sure as hell don’t want to live in one where women and minorities come in harm’s way because proactive self-defense is too uncomfortable. We can all practice better boundaries and assertiveness, and help reinforce them for each other. It’s ok to violate social norms when safety and happiness are at stake.”The Perils of Social Norms by Amy Bucher, Ph.D.

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The above extract reminded me of something which I read in – The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker. It also brought to mind an issue which does not only concerns ‘women and minorities‘ but all of us, of whatever gender be it the one we were born with or the one with which we most identify, wherever we live, country, culture society, etc. and so much more.

Like this compelling project – 25 Male Survivors Of Sexual Assault Quoting The People Who Attacked Them – points out:

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Men can't get raped - buzzfeed abuse photo series

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Now… I ‘used’ my mother as an example. She is not benefiting from my use of her, just as I often did not benefit from her ‘use’ of me. And am still not benefiting from the way she still ‘uses’ me, whether I participate in it or not, whether I am part of her life or not, whether she thinks I benefit from it or not and tells others that I do or not, or pretends I don’t exist and others think she is without child or whatever… while feeling that I don’t appreciate and am not grateful enough of the way that she ‘uses’ me – and so she ‘uses’ me in another way due to feeling shafted by my ingratitude and attitude.

We can use people without their consent, and feel justified in doing so because they have become a part of us in some way and so in theory we’re not using them we’re… what? What are we doing? What am I doing?

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“Many people think the Principle boils down to a version of the consent rule, i.e. that it’s okay to treat people however you wish as long as they consent to being treated that way. It’s actually more stringent than that, though, because it might still be wrong to do something to people if they consent to it. For instance, some people might consent to being in abusive relationships, but it doesn’t make it morally permissible for their abusers to abuse them. The abuse violates the Mere Means Principle, but not the principle of consent.” – When It’s Okay To Use People by Charlie Gilkey via Productive Flourishing

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I could justify, excuse, explain, expand upon what I am doing until I come out of it like a good guy, but is that true? Am I not just doing what was done to me and is still being done to me which I don’t like?

Is saying something like – my mother is a narcissist and I suffered years of abuse due to her disorder, and what I write about her is me figuring things out, redressing an imbalance, so it’s okay… is it okay?

Is it okay to spew venom (online and publicly or offline and privately) at someone who spewed venom at you? What a moral and many other things quandary… my mind may have to deny some stuff just to keep functioning.

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“I stood up abruptly from my seat and poured a deliciously hearty dose of brandy and Coconut Nog and retired to read my novel by the heater. I found myself imagining that, perhaps I could, just this once, make up an excuse as to why I could not fulfill my deadline… just this once.

Fortunately, or un, the seed had already been planted. I became irritatingly aware that all of my energetic efforts to act Act ACT by devouring topics that were shallow, yet filled with dramatic conclusions, were all in efforts to avoid my own anxiety and overwhelm…

Our manic defenses, a frenzied, slightly hysteric feeling of action, occur when two parts of our selves feel like they cannot co-exist in one mind and body.”Treyvon Martin or Miley Cyrus: The Psychology of Denial by Tiffany McLain via PsychedinSanFrancisco.

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The articles which I’ve quoted and linked to all use people in different ways, both positively and negatively, and in the shades of grey in between, and the authors are also using themselves. This concept of ‘use’ has many uses.

Except for the article – When It’s Okay To Use People by Charlie Gilkey via Productive Flourishing – for which I deliberately searched, the other articles were ones which I came across through random browsing.

While randomly browsing I also came across this – The Four “Dark Personality” Traits by Douglas T. Kenrick, Ph.D. via Psychology Today – which I found rather disturbing. It wasn’t the subject matter which was disturbing to me, but the way it was presented.

The intro states:

“In the last few years, the “Positive Psychology” movement is all the rage – let’s stop fretting about the underside of human nature, and study people who are happy, courageous, productive, and self-actualized! 🙂  🙂 🙂

But Del Paulhus has bucked the trend, with a series of studies delving into the Dark Side of human personality.  As he notes in a paper released today in Current Directions in Psychological Science:

    Our work on the “dark side” stands in stark contrast to the popular work on positive personality traits. In our view, dark personalities are more fascinating than shiny, happy folks.”

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I had one of those moments when I read this whereby I wondered if I’d crossed a boundary line into an alternate reality and didn’t notice. But I reasoned it away by concluding that those (at least these of those) in the Psychological fields have little awareness of what is going on in the rest of the world. They don’t read blogs written by regular people who have had relationships with other regular people whom they experienced as irregular and perhaps even very much on the ‘Dark side’ of personality. They also probably don’t read the regular news or regular history. Or watch regular films, TV, or are fans of comics. Or read any of the studies done by those in criminal psychology who have been studying this subject of ‘The Dark Side of Personality” for several decades. Apparently those in the psyche world have all been chasing leprechauns and rainbows, while the rest of us have been… what… in a dark ages limbo waiting for them to enlighten us.

There was a whole thing about Machiavellians in this article:

“Machiavellians, according to Paulhus, are “Master manipulators… one of them has cheated you out of something valuable—a fact that you may not have realized until it was too late.”  They differ from narcissists in their especially high scores on tests of manipulativeness, and their inclination to be involved in white collar crime.  The stock swindler Bernard Madoff, who worked his way up to the leadership of the New York Stock Exchange, only to use his position to bilk his investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars, is the classic Macchiavellian.”

Did he coin the term ‘Machiavellian’ himself while ‘bucking a trend’ like Buck Rogers or… did someone do that a century or more ago? Something about that term is familiar… hmmmm…

Okay, I’m using them, them as viewed through the eye of this article and my eye reading it (the other eye was chasing an unicorn) and being sarcastic while doing it. That could probably be explained away by a personality disorder of a…. Damn… hard to stop doing something addictive once you’ve started and it has tapped into your dark side kind. Darth Vadar would probably kick me out of his academy though due to – Not participating enough while day-dreaming.

Actually the article is very informative and interesting… although perhaps not in the way which it was intended to be. Which is why I included it in my post. I usually don’t like using things I read this way, at least not publicly doing it, privately I do it all the time because it is one of the ways that I have learned that I learn.

Perhaps I learn that way because I grew up with people who thought they were not just the smartest guy in the room, but on the whole planet… and I believed that until I started to question it. And once you begin to question…you open your eyes to many things which short-fuse your brain at times… all the time.

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Rebel's manifesto - KeriThis Rebel’s Manifesto by Keri Smith (this manifesto is copyrighted… perhaps ironically, perhaps not…).

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I like to test people… which often involves using their words as a template for their actions. I do this with myself too, so I’m not exempt and don’t benefit as much as I would like to from personal bias. When I say something it triggers a whole load of stuff which I wish it wouldn’t activate… but I’m a Capricorn Sun and ‘I use’… whatever is at hand to learn by doing and not just sit back in the comfort of saying.

Ugh! But even ugh has a positive side to it.

Enough of my cracked bookcase blah blah…here’s a song which sums it (me) up:

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David Byrne – Psycho Killer

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… over to you.

What do you think?

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