11 January, 2009

Paranoia? Or bullshit detection?

I don't know which it is. Maybe it is both.

But sometimes when I am talking with people... strangers... friends... could be either... I get this sudden feeling that I am not hearing the truth. That the stories being told are complete fabrications. And this is not often, and it is not with many people. But when it does happen, it is a very strong feeling. 

"You are making this up," I think.

"No way that what you're saying is true"

"I am not even listening anymore, because this is from out of nowhere"

It's not that they're telling me that they walked on the moon, or that they saw Angelina Jolie in Safeway this morning. Doesn't need to be that elaborate. But still, what they are saying does not resonate. And I don't know what it is. I wonder to myself, "Am I the only one that is doubting this?" I wonder if I have some special power of bullshit detection. Or, conversely, I wonder if I am just doubtful and paranoid, and tend to be skeptical of everything everyone says.

But no.

Because I am not. There are just a few people in my life with whom I have this sensation. And they are universally people who would have a reason to make themselves grander than they actually are. People who have inferiority regarding their accomplishments, or esteem. And the timing of their stories is inconsistent with the apparent significance of them. For instance, if I had run into Steve Carell in Fred Meyer this morning, you can probably bet that I would have put it in my Facebook status, from my iPhone, within minutes of the occurence. I would be calling and telling everyone I know about it. But for one of these "sensationalizers" that I am talking about, this would come up as an afterthought at some arbitrary point in conversation. We've already caught up on other things, and we talked about the Mariners, and we talked about the show we saw last month, and we talked about the good movies that are coming out on DVD. And then, out of the blue, BAM!, "You'll never guess who I saw this morning at Fred Meyer... I'm not even kidding you! It was Steve Carell!! So I went up to him, and I said 'That's what she said', and he cracked up laughing, and asked me if I was a fan! And then he insisted on giving me his autograph, and he even bought my order at the checkout because we were in line together."

You know. That kind of thing.

Are these people obvious liars? Or am I just really keen on detecting bullshit? Obviously, I exaggerate with the example above, but it's not that far from the level of storytelling that I am relating to you. And I wonder why people do it. Decent people. Fun people. Smart people. Interesting people. But it must be from an insecurity that they have. They need to be better than you, smarter than you, funner than you, more decent than you, in a way that is meaningful to them because they don't feel it. Something leaves them feeling out of control, or inferior.

I don't wish to avoid these people. Because some of them I really, really like.

But I wish they would just get real, so that I can have a real relationship with them, rather than some sort of dog and pony nonsense.

1 comment:

  1. I saw a dog AND a pony in Safeway yesterday! Really!