Main characters and Misanthrophes.
Madness tends to occur around my neck of the woods in odd spurts. So like last week I’m taking a break from my usual ranting to say something far more relaxed. And let’s start with a simple question. Do you like people? Now I don’t mean this in a condescending manner, or even in a sexual manner. I mean when you look at the people around you, do you find yourself enjoying the existence of other human beings around you generally speaking? It’s a tough question. And the answer gets to a deeper idea which I want to talk about her today.
We all have a bit of main character syndrome and a bit of general misanthropy. Scientifically speaking we know you can’t actually process the relationships you have with more than about 150 people at a given time. A few more or less depending on who you are. But in general you have 150 people who you actively concern yourself with to varying degrees. Of that 150 you have friends, family, rivals, perceived enemies, and of course mentors and targets of your affection. That’s basically it. Inside that 150 you actively track about 7 people daily. Yup just seven.
Now think about the shows we watch. Think about the movies we watch. In a hardcore action flick you tend to stop carrying about the mooks, goons, henchmen, whatever you want to call them because your brain gets tricked by the amount of them, usually the similar uniforms, and the fact that you never really hear much about who they are. But look deeper. Most films and shows keep about 20 people actively developed over the running time. Truly dramatic character pieces focus on even fewer. And it is both an unintentional human director move, and your brain’s psychological hardwiring.
SO let’s get to the deeper idea. I put the hypothesis to you that even though you try to avoid it, you and of course I have main character syndrome. Don’t worry though it’s a normal thing. We all know that just statistically speaking we can’t all be important in the grand scheme. And Doctor Who episodes and “everybody is special to somebody,” motivational posters aside, we just don’t all matter. And nothing is wrong with being only important to your circles. But our relatively narrow ability to focus compared to the mass of humanity isn’t really entirely bad …maybe.
It means that media will get you to focus into believing that certain things will happen regardless of the possible problems with it because, well you’re you right? You prepared, you did things the correct way, you handled your flaws, so you should get the reward for that. Well, and you should see this coming, sometimes you don’t. The universe doesn’t hate you, vast conspiracies aren’t working to hold you down. Reality is that sometimes you don’t beat the odds. Not because you are bad, but because well, someone had to lose, and this time it was you. Sucks right?
Well let’s shift over to that other part of the statement I made earlier. Because telling you that your disappointment when you don’t win is part of an inbuilt main character syndrome is only half of my point. You have a bit of internal dislike/hatred of humanity, if not other humans more specifically. Again this is a brain chemistry based psychological issue, but also a function of our evolution and survival. No matter how nice a person there is something that they dislike. And someone they dislike. For whatever reason. And that is our competitive humanity run amuck of course?
Not really. You have a bit of misanthropy because of that thing earlier. You can only focus on about 150 other humans. Outside that you’re unconsciously putting them into that “other” classification. Once someone is not a part of what we perceive as our core group, then it is easy to make assumptions good or bad. This I’d put to you is how you get people who turn their social causes into absolutist crusades against their perceived enemies. It isn’t enough to save the stray animals in your town’s pound, all city pounds are evil vicious animal hating kill zones.
Now certainly that isn’t true and city shelters for stray animals are necessary to control the spread of disease, and other factors, but once they are in the other group, it is a lot easier to be convinced. Same with people. I spoke with someone who is an atheist vegan recently. And she and I left the conversation with interesting impressions of each other. I understood her logic, and though I disagreed with her positions I found myself respecting her thought process. She emailed me saying that she hadn’t expected to have such a rewarding conversation. And admitted her biases.
The reality was that she expected me to be some crazy animal hating cigar smoking oaf. Now to the degree you think of me that way you’ve already proved my point but I’ll finish. It wasn’t her beliefs about me that drove this. It was her internal perceptions of my type of humanity. The groups I belong to, the subjects I talk about. And my place among the “other” outside her 150. And recognizing that other didn’t mean evil, was the way she removed me from her groups of humans she dislikes. Think about who you might need to re-evaluate too.
– THE Ruthless Wonder
P.S. Sometimes you just need to listen to some music in another language and relax with your particular target of affection. Here’s a new piece for the playlist.