Back In My Day, Getting Stuck In A Toxic Friendship Was The Price You Paid For Being Too Wussy To Tell Your Friend He Was Being A Cunt.

Day 59. 148 pages, 70,017 words. And frankly I feel justified simply resting on my laurels after coming up with that post title. But okay.

Quick show of hands.

How many of you think that depression, Asperger’s, OCD, bipolar disorder and all these other ailments actually existed five hundred years ago, but we just lacked the medical technology to diagnose and treat them?

Uh huh. And how many of you think that they didn’t exist, because human lives were too short and too brutal for such weaknesses to have a chance to develop or gain any sort of traction in the bubo-spotted, cholera-and-tuberculosis-riddled, snaggletoothed carcasses that were shambling around pretending to be people back then?

See, I – and, I like to think, all of my friends and people whom I hold in high regard[1] – would come down firmly and categorically in the former camp. There may be people in the latter, but I think it’s a difficult position to defend. Yes, culture has changed. We have it easier now, we’re softer in a lot of ways, spoiled in a lot of ways, and at the same time there are whole new complexities, neuroses, stressers and oh boy, the diseases we’re living long enough to gestate and pass on with our everybody’s-equal let’s-keep-the-sick-and-the-old-alive-forever genes. And don’t get me wrong, I approve of this. Being both sick and old, how could I not?

[1] The overlap is extensive, but not necessarily total.

Yes, I like to think I’m fairly enlightened when it comes to “modern” ailments. I think it’s fair to say all this evil shit was still around, but people were too busy dying of black lung or cannonball head to notice. Medical diagnoses were done by drilling a hole in your head and telling you to pony the fuck up. I dare say OCD and manic depressiveness existed, but when a person has rampaging syphilis, Dengue fever and OCD, who the Hell notices the OCD?

My enlightened attitude towards some of humanity’s ills, however, doesn’t seem to extend to certain modern concepts.

Now, I’ve theorised and armchair psychoanalysed about Emotional Vampires and Emotional Renfields before, and sure, I think there’s a lot of truth in the concepts. Or if not truth, then at least interesting ground for discussion, discovery and self-examination. What I don’t care for, though, is the idea that a person can be blanket-classified in any such way, and then dealt with accordingly. As I’ve said before, some days you’re Dracula and other days you’re the poor sap with the mouthful of bugs.

And I loathe the whiny, self-obsessed way people seem to feel entitled, as if it is their natural born human right to have not a single selfish narcissistic jackass in their lives. I mean, except for themselves, obviously. Everyone still gets to be one, but nobody should have to put up with anyone else. Because that’s just not fair! That’s not what we signed on for. Boo to toxic relationships! Boo to so-called friends who bring you down and take more than they give.

Yeah, no shit. Damn right boo to those jerks. When I was a kid, we called them “users”. This was before personal computers, of course. A fair-weather friend who was always there when they needed you. Yeah, you’d tell that guy exactly what you thought of him.

When I was a teenager and a twenty-something, those people had far less complimentary names.

Now, it’s “Emotional Vampire” and “toxic friendship”, and the way out of it is to cut and run and look after your precious self. Well, I guess that’s how the world works? But what about the people who are actually just being shits? You’re not helping them. What you’ve done is the cultural equivalent of raising a vicious junkyard dog and then just letting it loose in the neighbourhood.

Why didn’t you train the dog better? How about, the first time it bared its teeth at someone, you kicked it really quite hard in the penis?

It’s a metaphor.

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4 Responses to Back In My Day, Getting Stuck In A Toxic Friendship Was The Price You Paid For Being Too Wussy To Tell Your Friend He Was Being A Cunt.

  1. Linza says:

    I think the disconnect is the part where everyone is responsible for everyone else. Most people feel that people are only the responsibility of themselves and their families.

    I’m certainly not responsible for Wanky MacJerkface, the hipster nihilist that doesn’t want to recycle their literal toxics because we’re all going to die anyway. I would let that person wallow in their own shit as a way of making the point.

    There’s also the matter of mental hygiene. If you spend all day around someone who is constantly negative, OCD, neurotic, or bipolar, it becomes very difficult to consciously sort out what behavior is Civilization Approved(tm) and what is dysfunctional. There is a danger of dysfunctional behavior making its way into your own behavioral patterns, and then the people around you are exposed to the same. I’m not saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to just cut off everyone who annoys you, but after a point it becomes apparent that a person cannot be reasonably helped and isn’t going to help themselves anytime soon. Since all of us carry our experiences with us from home to work to public life to home again, it becomes our own responsibility to contain what can’t be healed.

    Or to kick people off your facebook for being racist twatwaffles so that you don’t spend the rest of the afternoon bitter about the state of the world.

    • stchucky says:

      Interesting idea. In this sense, psychological ailments are contagious in much the same way as viral or bacterial ones. If only insofar as they turn you into a carrier.

      And your final point about defriending people, that’s even more interesting. Because one of the main things I noted in the lovely Facebook response to my posting of this story (aside from several private messages saying “is this about me?”) was that the definition of “friend” is whatever you want to make it. In the age of social media, a “friend” can be one of four thousand people you’ve just gathered up from random places, none of whom really see anything you post or know a damn thing about you. If one of them regularly has toxic stuff that you engage with in an attempt to fix it, the Algorithm means you will see it more and more and it will make you more and more miserable, as you say – an afternoon, week, or general worldview ruined. So defriending that douchebag can be the only way out.

      On the other hand, does that translate over to actual friendship? I’d argue no. It may take years, but if they are a friend, I want to help them more than I want to protect myself.

      This is easy for me to say, of course, because I am an arrogant cuss and I have yet to meet a bigot who had even the slightest risk of hurting me with toxicity. Putting me in a bad mood from time to time, sure – but he or she is usually more likely to just inspire a blog post.

  2. Linza says:

    I’m not sure where I was going with the Wanky MacJerkface example. Perhaps a behavior with a physical result rather than an emotional one.

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