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Passive projection

Thursday 8/11/22

To what degree is knowing nothing about someone now important to liking them? Or not disliking them?

Rather, I'd say. By knowing someone, I mean their integral way. How they think and how they express themselves. When we don't know anyone at all, we are passive in how we think about them. We're not bothered. But we also project. We make these assumptions that they would not displease us, and those assumptions take the form of thinking nothing, really. When they speak, when they reveal themselves, they break that spell. They shatter the compact. Now they annoy us. We're really that selfish, that locked in on ourselves, that we engage the world in such a way that everything we don't know we presumptively, preemptively tailor to what we like or wouldn't mind, so that we can keep thinking a certain way, viewing a person a certain way.

There is a tragic corollary to this, a tragic suggestion: that to know anyone deeply and truly, is to be more likely to dislike them. Because we will have to adapt to what they are. We can't deploy that passivity, because now we're being acted upon. We have to react in our own thoughts. Something is being dictated to us; it's not up to us. There's less room for the neutrality of apathy and leaving well enough alone when in that latter category we can put what we want, assume what we wish. What will that usually be? It'll usually correspond with how we are and think. Narcissism heightens this projection, but so does fear and self-doubt. Our own absence of individuality, and that is a series of streaks that run through every aspect of our existence, right down to the words we use, the phrases we repeat.

What most people will do is hold almost all of themselves back. They do that on social media (where they are lying and misrepresenting themselves close to 100% of the time) with the people they don't know, but they also do it in regular life with people they know, more and more so, because life in 2022 takes its cue from social media. "Real" life imitates social media. Add all of this together, and what happens is is that any sharing of self can become off-putting, because we are no longer the deciders, but the reactors, and we also see how we stand in contrast to someone else who is that much more developed than we are as an individual and a person we now associate--partially from our own shame--as possessing courage we don't. Illusions are shattered. But we also have to think, and to engage with people on their own terms, and that includes how we engage with our sense of them, and what our sense had been. It's when humanness enters the equation that we have a problem, or so we think, because we also have this larger problem in that no one is a person and everyone is lying and withholding. That means we are in the same place, but we might as well have never laid eyes on each other; we brush up against each other, but we don't touch.

Think of it as points of contact, too. The more one shares and reveals, the more points of contact there are in terms of that which someone else can decide to find offensive. They may find those things offensive not because they are, but because they don't conform with expectations, or, again, because that person is a person, and not a blank slate on which anything can be projected.

You end up with lots of people scaling themselves back to a degree that they cease to exist, because you become a product of your attitude, your habits, how you are day in, day out, over the course of weeks, months, years. It's only logical that you then expect the same of others and to act as you do, which you don't think about consciously in self-critical terms because we're not equipped to make the changes we'd have to make, which requires honesty and courage, and we frequently have no one to bounce any of this off of at the level of true friendship, and we need that as well. The open and vulnerable individual who gives of themselves and does not hide who that person is, becomes an anomaly, a threat, and a pariah, potentially.

But they're the ones doing it "right." The people who don't do it that way never really connect with anyone. You also become used to what you are used to. What do I mean by that? Let's say you live in extreme heat. Every day you experience that heat. Your body adjusts. It doesn't impact you as much later on as it did at first. But if you go somewhere colder, you may freeze, though it's not really that cold. You may loathe that place, swear you'll never be back.

We are that way when it comes to people who reveal themselves when we are used to doing nothing of the sort ourselves and applying this kind of passive projection that is also all we see around us and how everyone we know acts.

This is one reason why saying nothing, being nothing, and embodying mediocrity and cliche is so important to success right now. Because nothing can go wrong. When there is nothing there, there's nothing with which to quibble, save that there's nothing there. But then that becomes a grand question, then, doesn't it, of what are you doing? What are doing with your life? Are you wasting it on the macro and micro levels, which have a surprising amount of overlap? Do you begin the process of looking for answers, or do you just drift along as you have been, until you are dead, mislabeling whatever you need to mislabel to keep going, which isn't even really keeping going, as I would mean the words "keeping going."


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