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Oh the horror of those Cooperation Incentives...

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The I Am Different nodule is a little recognized structure at the back of your brain, right at that bulge before your head starts turning into your neck. It belongs to the taxonomic category: Cooperation Incentive, a powerful class of occasionally toxic brain agents designed to help you deal with the necessariness of Other People.

The nodule is shaped like a green onion. Which is why we sometimes call it the Amazing Green Onion of Differentness. Except that unfortunately it isn't green, it's brain colored. Oh well.

Anyway, the long stalks of differentness reach down from the back of your head like a ponytail until they come to rest in close proximity to your spine. This is so that they can beam alarming messages through your Central Nervous system to the rest of your body.

The onion part is at the top and when dormant it is no larger than the little oniony part of a green onion. When activated however, it can swell up to the size of a purple Spanish Onion!, throbbing and pulsating and putting tremendous pressure on the rest of your brain. Ouch!

The primary function of the Green Onion of Differentness is to beam messages to the rest of your brain telling you that you are different from Other People. It is particularly fond of obsessing on your physical appearance, beaming messages that you are too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too ugly, too bald, your nose is too big, your teeth have big spaces between them or not enough space, or your skin is bad, or your posture is crooked, or you're too ethnic-looking or not ethnic enough or your legs are too long because your waist is too short, or, or ,or.... The Green Onion can go on and on. It is very creative in what it will decide makes you Physically Unacceptable and Not Like Other People and therefore doomed to a hellish isolation in which Other People devote their entire lives to talking about your big butt behind your back.

(Special Digressionary Fun Onion Fact: Some people have a hellacious physiological glitch called Body Dysphoric Disorder in which their Green Onion goes completely out of control, swells up to one thousand times its normal size and tries to kill them! It tells them several million times a day that there is something Horribly Wrong with their Nose Hairs and it makes them stand in front of a mirror in agony, trying to get rid of Nose Hairs that no one else can even see. The people who suffer from this disorder do not find it amusing. You wouldn't either if yours went out of control and beamed messages of doom to you several million times a day. People have killed themselves because their Green Onion of Body Differentness wouldn't shut up.

Some people scoff at things like the Green Onion of Differentness, saying it doesn't exist, or it's all in your mind, or it's a fanciful farfetched ridiculous idea. It's not in your mind, it's in your brain, hardwired in for a reason, and it is never a wise idea to scoff at things that can kill people. Special Note to the Wise: Do not scoff at the Onion of Differentness! Treat its lethal power with the respect it deserves.)

Meanwhile, if your physical appearance doesn't inspire your Green Onion, then something else will. Perhaps it is your background, your poverty, the fact that you were adopted, the fact that you were the only white kid in a black neighborhood, or the only black kid in a Spanish neighborhood, or the only smart kid in a stupid neighborhood, or the only stupid kid in a high-achieving neighborhood. Your miserable childhood, your parents' divorce, the wealth that set you apart from everyone and left you with no true friends. If there is nothing in your background that inspires your Green Onion, then there is sure to be something about You. Your awkward klutziness, your dreaminess, your lack of interest in sports, your shyness, your phobias, your embarrassing family. Your loud mouth, the manners you never learned, the fact you have never been truly loved, your asthma, your stuttering, your speech impediment, your lack of a college degree, lack of a boyfriend or girlfriend, your gayness, your Jewishness, the fact you have never been married, or that you got married too young.

If there's nothing inspiring to your Green Onion in the externals of You, then there is sure to be something inside of You. Your terrible thoughts, your terrible feelings, the things you can't and don't say, the inexplicable depression and sadness, the hidden giddy glee that is so powerful it must be weird, the way you like to be alone, the way you are so scared to be alone that no one else could feel that way. The way you think everyone is against you, or you wonder if they even notice you're alive at all. The things you think that no one ever says, the things you wonder about that no one ever mentions, the things you feel about that don't seem to matter to anyone else, your secret knowledge and your terrible ignorance of the things everyone else seems to know automatically.

No matter what it is about You that inspires your Green Onion to beam messages to the rest of your brain there is only one hard cold stark bottom-line conclusion you can draw from its existence: YOU ARE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PEOPLE.

Ironically, the only people who don't receive periodic messages from their brain telling them that there is this huge gap between their differentness and all Other People - are people with defective Green Onions. And the only thing that can be said about such people (and they are very rare) is that They Are Different From Everyone Else. In other words, the only people that don't feel different are the ones that truly are. Just another secret fun amazing fact about the Green Onion. Courtesy of prettyfedup.com.

(Bonus Tip: You could torture and taunt the truly different about their inner differentness and defective Onion so that they will feel isolated and insecure and bad about themselves - which would be so much fun, except that their Onion is defective and it wouldn't work! Bummer! The truly insufferably arrogant are just going to stay that way and there is no point in trying to make them feel bad. Infuriating, but good to know next time you are considering investing your efforts in trying to humiliate the arrogant son-of-a-bitch who is ruining your life. Won't work. Rent a DVD or conquer the world instead. Far easier.)

Now naturally you want to know how your Green Onion of Differentness works, what it's there for, how to make the swelling go down and so on. And so we now bring you the Amazing Green Onion primer, including more secret fun amazing facts!

What it's there for and how it works:

The purpose of the Green Onion of Differentness is to make you feel isolated so that you will want to feel connected. The purpose of the Green Onion is to make you feel like you don't fit in so that you will desperately want to fit in. The purpose of the Green Onion is to make you crave the cooperation of Other People, their admiration, acceptance, attention, love, benevolence, charity, kindness, you name it. It is there to make you seek out Other People as if they were exactly what your Green Onion thinks they are, the single most necessary element of the universe. The Green Onion tries to make you feel bad so your life will get better. It doesn't always work, The Green Onion, but it is one of those ironic facts of life that even though it is frequently miserable in its effects, it is just trying to help you survive.

In fact, it's one of the most powerful survival tools in your brain's survival kit and it has quite a kick. The Green Onion of Differentness spurs people toward becoming artists, and writers, rock stars and movie stars and media moguls. It spurs people toward Achievement and Fame and Money and Smartness, as well as Niceness, and Getting Alongness, Generosity, World Domination, Alienation, Conformity, Rebellion, Status-Seeking, Cooperation, Hatred, Activism, Compassion, Helpfulness, Caring, Friendship, Marriage, Alienation, and the Columbine School Shootings. It leads to Mother Teresa and Hitler. It's pretty fucking versatile and it attempts to rule anything it comes in contact with.

How you cope with your own personal Green Onion of Differentness has a big effect on your personality, on the You-ness of You. It's like a fucking steel factory or something, it forges your character. It distorts you from an unformed globular mass of human beingness into something potentially useful and perhaps quite unlike what you originally had in mind. It's a motherfucker of a taskmaster and a lot of the most important things you learn about surviving in the world, you learn under its pretty unforgiving tutelage. It's worth getting to know, because if you are going to have a raging inferno of a steel factory inside you, it might be nice to know what the fuck the goddamn thing's doing in there so you can avoid a potentially crippling Steel Factory Accident. They do happen. Powerful things can be dangerous.

On the other hand, if you learn the Safety Precautions, you can often peacefully co-exist with it, even if it does have the annoying task of forging your character even when in fact, you don't really even want to have your character forged, and would often just as soon make do without a character altogether.

All right, enough of the apocalyptic Green Onion build-up, let's take a look at how it actually functions by going through its process step by step.

Step One: Since the purpose of the Green Onion of Differentness is to help you secure cooperation from Other People, naturally it kicks into gear exactly when you are not receiving cooperation from Other People. Your body detects an Other People Cooperation Deficit, sends a message to your Green Onion to swell and throb so you start feeling Different and isolated. In other words, you will feel most isolated from Other People exactly when you need them most. This makes sense, after all you feel the hungriest when you haven't had anything to eat, that's what hunger's there for, to encourage you to eat. But it's damned unpleasant, this Green Onion Cooperation Deficit response mechanism, because it makes you feel like the one thing you need most, acceptance from Other People is now impossible to achieve because you feel so goddamn different.

Let's take an example. You are in second grade. (Being an important survival mechanism, the Green Onion often kicks in during childhood.) You just moved to a new school. You are small, skinny, rather pale, and you have asthma. Your parents are weird. They love you, but they do not act like other parents. They act like the only people who count in the world are the people in your family and they do things however they want, which is weirdly.

The other kids in your new school are not small, pale, and sickly. They are tan, loud, aggressive, and confident. They push people on the playground. You are one of the people they push. You do not understand their background or how they do things or why. You don't know why they push you. Yo do know why they don't pick you for their teams - because you suck and they don't like you. You don't exactly why they don't like you, but you do know that you don't know how to be like them.

The teachers are tall and intimidating. They don't pay any attention to you except occasionally to sort of snappishly suggest that you get more loud, confident, tan, and aggressive and less small, sickly, and pale. Your parents do not understand. They think you are wonderful just the way you are. Clearly you are not. When you try to explain this to them, they immediately suggest that you do something completely unlike yourself, such as invite a loud, obnoxious scary schoolmate over or 'learn to stand up for yourself' and so on. Obviously, if they really thought you were so wonderful they wouldn't suggest you do such dangerous things. They do not do what you want, which is explain Other People. They are loving idiots and you bear the sad burden of being more knowledgeable than them and having to protect them from the harshness of your Real World. You stop telling them things. You are utterly alone. You Green Onion throbs and throbs and throbs and you feel so different and so isolated. You Are Not Like Other Kids.

Back when you were in first grade things weren't like this. You went to a neighborhood school where you knew everybody and you had friends. You played. The teachers were nice. You were learning to read. Your parents were fun. You had good times. You did not feel different. You did not crave and obsess about Other People, because you had plenty of them. They were spilling over, there were so many of them, more than enough. You were blissfully unaware of the existence of the dreaded Green Onion.

What happened when you got into 2nd grade was that the cooperation of Other People was snatched out from under you like a rug. You faced Sudden Deprivation. A vital nutrient disappeared from your environment. You were fucked. This leads us to an important Principle of Differentness:

Feeling Different is Not Your Fault. It is caused by Other People. The throbbing pain of a swollen Onion is caused by what Other People do, namely, not fucking cooperating with you - fuckers! It will feel like your fault. It is not. It will feel like it is your fault because it is Your Problem. And your body knows this and knows it has to spur You to take action to solve the problem. The Green Onion is a problem-solving module. Your Problem. Their Fault. Their Fault. Your Problem.

It can be helpful to remember this if you start entering Isolation Green Onion Hell as an adult - because you are hideously fat, or hideously depressed, or having hideous personal problems, or are hideously mateless, or hideously unsuccessful, or hideously fired from your job, or hideously disgraced, or hideously whatever. The problem is not that you are hideous. The problem is that you are facing Severe Cooperation Withdrawal or Chronic Cooperation Deficit, or a similar Cooperation Shortage. You are battling the massive tide of Other People and it's goddamn fucking exhausting. Particularly when your Onion is throbbing like a migraine and you are severely considering offing yourself to get it to shut up. Your task here is not to fix your hideousness - a frustrating and futile endeavor because your hideousness is not causing the problem. Your task is to secure the cooperation of Other People. A daunting task indeed, but one that offers some hope of convincing your Green Onion to shrink back down to normal size and shut the fuck up!

So how does your Green Onion go about the task of securing the Cooperation of Other People? Well, let's take the second grade example. There you are in second grade, in Green Onion Hell, and your Green Onion gets busy. Under its influence, you try a lot of different things. You try not to be so sickly or to hide it at least. You try to act like the other kids. You fail. You try to make friends. You fail at that. You try to be funny. You try to be quiet so people won't pick on you. You try to be smart. You try to learn your place in the pecking order. You try going off by yourself and reading all the time. You try causing trouble to get attention. You trying being more sickly so you can stay home from school. You try developing a special talent. You try explaining your problem. You try hiding it. You try developing nerves of steel. You try being excruciatingly self-conscious. You try being more determined and trying harder than everyone else and becoming super-competitive in your chosen fields. You try picking on other kids so someone will be worse off than you. You try being polite and helpful and friendly. You try to get adults to like you since kids won't. You try learning to be ingratiating and self-deprecating so people won't hit you. You try making friends with people who don't go to your school. You try being miserable. You try crying. You try fighting back. You try standing up for yourself. You try thinking about running away from home. You try every fucking thing you can think of, even the ones that won't work.

At the end of all your trying, you will have completed Green Onion Boot Camp and Green Onion Special Training School. Green Onion boot camp is far rougher than anything the Navy Seals could dish up. And at the end, you will have an arsenal of things that do work, and a special Warning Placard listing things that don't work. For you, being funny worked. Actually getting in fistfights didn't. Or for you, being smart worked, being friendly didn't. For you, going off by yourself and detoxifying yourself from the Horrible Toxic Other People Non-Cooperation Chemicals worked and trying to be popular didn't. Or for you, being popular worked and being smart never did. For you, being mean to everyone worked, being sweet and vulnerable never did. For you, getting more sickly worked, trying to compete never did. For you, learning to play the guitar worked, finishing school didn't. For you being independent and cool worked, being ingratiating and needy didn't. For you, being ingratiating and needy worked, striking out on your own didn't. Defiance worked, or craven fear, or asking for reassurance, or special bonding with one close friend, or not being close with anybody but friendly with everybody or, or, or....

Somehow or another, you found the Other People survival tools that worked for you and learned which ones not only didn't, they burned hotter than a flaming hot poker. Your bitter Other People Disappointments, those spectacular moments of Non-Cooperation are burned in. You may have achieved only partial success in your attempts to secure Cooperation From Other People. You may have learned that Other People are Cooperative Enough if you are uptight and driven for success, but they give you a fucking hard time if you slack off and actually fucking enjoy your life. And that may be a steep price to pay. You may still feel Different because you can't relax, because you're so uptight and you may still desperately wish you could Be Like Other People and Have Fun. Your Green Onion may have settled down once you learned to Strive for Perfection, No Matter How Ridiculous, but just let you experience some hard-ass Non-cooperation from Other People and it will kick up again, flare into action, swell, and throb.

 

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