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The Normality Factor....

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Okay, so the two things both your Social Brain and your Love and Safety Brain agree on are: a) There is a legitimate possibility you are not really normal like everyone else, and b) they both really wish you just were.

 

The reasons your Brains are actively taking into account the possibility that you are not normal in planning your actions is that everyone has to contend with this possibility. It's just in the nature of things. Everyone has a private inner reality and everyone has an outer social reality. You, from your vantage point, can observe your inner reality and everyone else's outer reality. You do not, however, have an excellent spot for observing everyone else's inner reailty, partly because yours is so loud it hogs up the conversation and distracts you from getting an accurate assessment of Other People. This applies to everyone. The fact that we don't really have access to Other People's inner realities and we do have access to ours means we can't really tell if ours is like everyone else's or maybe just completely different. Since you don't really know, there is always the possibility that your inner reality is just competely weirdo different and you are nothing like Other People at all! This is a realistic scenario because, for all of us, our inner realities actually are fairly individualized and particular and well kind of weird and strange. Particularly when placed against the yardstick of how everyone, including you, acts on the outside. This would be no big whoop, except that successfully navigating Social Reality depends a lot on you being a lot like Other People.

This is how people organize themselves, around their Social Reality similarities, how they cooperate, how they get things done, decide who's in and who's out, define rule-breakers and Bad People and so on. A certain amount of variation is tolerated in any Clump of People, but only so much, and variation is often the source of Conflict, Arguments, and Disagreements, Anger, Disgruntlement, and The Desire To Commit Anti-Social Acts of Violence against People Who Are Annoyingly Different on a key point, such as choice of football team to root for. So there is always this danger for all of us of being different because we really really need to know how to be the same in a pinch. Nobody really likes this system, this business of being human, because it's fucking stressful. But we are stuck with it. Our variations, our conflicts, and disagreements, and our wild Inner Realities, are a major factors in why we've survived as a species and become succesful and keep breeding and so on; one man's weirdo fucking Inner Reality turns into the Scientific Advance That Saves Millions of Lives, but no matter how fucking helpful it is, it's still fucking stressful. So naturally you are stressed out on this point.

And if your Social Brain is young enough to hang around with people who sing along with the radio, then it's young enough to get a little freaked around this point. When a Social Brain is young and yet not young enough to be semi-safely nestled in the bosom of family all the time, it realizes that it actually has to practice being like everyone else. This is a social skill and it endeavors to master it with greater or lesser success. By the time you are 58, you won't want anyone to sing along with the radio ever, and futhermore you will have practiced being like everyone else so much that you won't fucking be able to be your own weird self even if you want to, which means you'll have to go therapy and a mid-life crisis to learn how to be weird again, or else you'll just give up and snarl at young people enjoying themselves singing along with the radio because you'll have been around Other People for so long that you'll instinctively hate them all and wonder what's wrong with you for being so isolated and hating everyone. Aren't you glad being 58 isn't your problem right now? It makes not being boisterous look like a fucking walk in the park!

Anyway, both your Brains are particularly freaked out by the items you mentioned - dancing, laughing and singing. At any moment while engaging in these things, your Inner Reality could leak out and reveal itself in all its hideous differentness. You could Dance the Wrong Way, revealing something stark and profound and disturbing about your body's relationship to music and itself. You could Laugh at the Wrong Thing, thereby proving once and for all that your inner reality is just fucking weird if you think that's funny, no one else does. And you could have some highly unusual and vulnerability-causing Passionate Music Soul that will come bursting forth when you sing that will announce to everyone that you have a tin ear. All these things, laughing, singing, dancing, are intimate, private things to some degree, and your particular Social Brain is desperately worried about that. This puts you in a bad mood, you hate it, it sucks, it's not pleasant to have your Brains insulting your Inner Reality all the time and acting as if it's all fucking defective and abnormal or whatever. Damn! That's a bitch! Particuarly because you can't just fucking get rid of your Inner Reality, it's part of the operating equipment of You! So both your Brains are ganging up on you to indulge a happy fantasy that you could actually be normal and like everyone else so you'd never be in danger from that pernicious nasty Inner Reality again and you would live happily ever after enjoying yourself and laughing heartily on all possible occasions.

Forget about it! You are never going to turn normal, no one ever does, you have an Inner Reality and that's the way it is. So we are going to short-circuit a bunch of your problems by dropping all lines of reasoning that have to do with achieving actual inner normality and concentrate on the pratical task at hand. Living as a social being in an unsafe world.

Option #1: Realistic Rational Reasoning.

This is the capital R option, so named for its co-founders, realism, rationality, and reasoning. Okay, so your Social Brain thinks laughing, dancing, singing are unsafe. It does not think going up to chicks and talking to them is unsafe. It perceives that in the second situation it has plenty of control and none of your Inner Reality is going to come leaking out unless you want it to, whereas in the first situations it could. Your Social Brain likes control. Fine, lots of Social Brains do. Its control-freak aspects are getting on your nerves right now, but fine. We'll work with it.

So we simply, logically, and rationally look around at Social Reality and do a conscious assessment of the actual dangers of dancing and so on. We just cut the wanting to enjoy ourselves crap for a moment and we take a serious look at your social environment. Like this:

Go to a club, don't dance, and look at all the dancers. Look particularly at the worst ones. How bad are they? How can you tell? Do they reveal something terrible about themselves like a lack of rhythm, a dorky aura of Inhibition, a dorky aura of Uninhibition? What are the social consequences to them of dancing badly? What is the worst that can happen? Get solid information on the realities of dancing in your area. Can you be reasonably confident that you will not be the worst? What will your friends say if you are? What are your greatest dangers? Do you flail your arms around? Can you take practical steps to mitigate the danger while not appearing to be uptightly glancing around you all the time while dancing? What about the good dancers? Do they have a secret? Observe like a motherfucker and just realistically fucking prepare. Figure out what the actual parameters of danger really are. Don't fucking pretend there aren't any dangers just because you don't want there to be any and if you were all fucking normal and everything there wouldn't be any, just bite the fucking bullet, admit there are and fucking prepare!

Sudden Tip: Normal people do this all the time!

You may even do it yourself in other situations. People just look at how Other People do things and they make reasonable attempts to imitate them. They don't pretend that life isn't occasionally embarrassing or awkward, they just try to minimize it by seeing how Other People act and they act the same way. One of the very reasons you are having a problem with things like dancing, laughing and singing - is that you have noticed that you don't seem to be really doing them the way everybody else is - uninhibitedly. You already want to imitate your peers - so just fucking do it on purpose. Stop imagining they are experiencing some inner enjoyment mechanism that you don't have - and start fucking imitating how they act on the outside. Pretend to be uninhibited. I swear you can do it! Furthermore, once you have practiced the mechanics of pretending to dance as if you are uninhibited...you unenjoyment of not being uninhibited will dissipate to a large degree. You don't really want to be uninhibited, you just want to know how to act like you are - which we are telling you how to do - and once you've mastered that you will find yourself over the course of time uninhibitedly enjoying your wonderful newfound ability to act uninhibited. It's a circular process but it works. Not just with dancing or other forms of inhibition but with friendliness or confidence or sexiness or any other thing people are inclined to imagine requires a certain Inner Reality that they don't have.

So do this with laughing too. Imitate. First, observe the range of laughers in your group. What's the most you can get away with? What would happen if you were laughing loudly all by yourself? Would people tease you? Do people in your group make fun of each other? If they do, does that work out badly or does it work out okay? Are arguments caused by people picking on each other for being different or is it a tolerant set? Make friends with the most prominent laugher in the group and laugh behind them in their comforting and safe glow of noise. Invite them over, do something hilarious and practice laughing at their level. You're safe, they're still going to laugh louder and more than you. Build yourself a fucking buffer zone. Just look and look until you figure out what the realistic range of laughing is. You may realize in the midst of this - no wonder you are fucking uptight, you are surrounded by a bunch of mean-spirited fucking twerps who are oh so snotty about bad dancers and people who don't laugh when the popular people haven't told them they could. You might realize, fuck! what am I doing around these people? I actually would be more uninhibited if I actually was fucking Loved and Accepted by Halfway Decent Fucking People with Half a Heart Instead of These Fucking Arrogant Snobs and Bitches. This happens. Sometimes you are uptight for a very good fucking reason. Find out if you are. Find out.

This being uptight thing is a physiological phenomenon and so you have to counteract it physically. Actually use your eyeballs to look. You can't just think about it. Thinking about it is what gets you uptight in the first place. Thinking is done inside the very same Inner Reality that's got you all nervous in the first place. Your Social Brain will never be convinced unless it sees with its actual eyes that nothing particularly terrible actually happens when people laugh. Only solid evidence will convince it. People forget this all the fucking time. They try to reason things through by means of their Inner Reality. Your Social Brain doesn't even fucking like your Inner Reality - you'll never convince it of anything that way! However, once your Social Brain has solid fucking evidence of the relative lack of consequences of your laughter, it will say to itself - 'what was I fucking worried about? Look at these other dorks. Compared to these bozos I got no problems whatsoever. I'm a worry-free Social Brain now.' They actually do this - Social Brains - they learn. They get out into the world, they observe and they learn. You learned things worked one way in your family ("pipe down in there!") and a different way in a different environment ("Lighten up! Enjoy yourself!"). They figure this out, they imitate and they adjust.

Just learning to imitate people on purpose is a handy skill and will boost your confidence in many situations. You may already know how to do this. Just do it on purpose now. You will still be uptight when you are in a new situation where you don't know the rules or who to imitate or if you have to go first or something...but just confidently knowing that imitation is an Important Social Rule will save your ass in many a situation will ease your wariness. Imitating is so important to human interaction that humans are like lemmings and will imitate themselves over a cliff in a big Clump as long as it looks like the Clump is not going to mock or humiliate them as they plunge to their death. So now that you know this, you can sensibly imitate when called for and refrain when its clearly insane. For example, you may cleverly choose not to imitate some of the stunts on Jackass as high-risk, low-reward activities while modestly imitating your way toward singing along at a moderate volume when everyone else is. This will put you way ahead of a) the people who have to jump off four story apartment buildings and crack their spines because their Jackass imitating modules got out of control, and b) the people who sing at top volume all the time because they can never fucking figure out that no one else does that and also it can be annoying.

Imitate and conquer!

Okay that was a sensible option but let's move on to Option #2, which is both way way more fun and lots more harrowing! Stay turned!

 

Option #2 - in which you humiliate yourself on purpose!!!!

IF YOU'RE COMPLETELY FUCKING INHIBITED, YOU MIGHT ENJOY....

Social Inhibition Mechanism

Why Do Asshole Guys Get All the Chicks

How Fucked Am I? A Handy Interactive Self-Quiz

Too Shy To Meet Girls

HOW COME IT'S SO HARD TO MEET PEOPLE

Fed Up and Fucked Up

My Job Is Hell

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