Thursday, June 23, 2011

Basic Instincts

  Remember what I said about tolerance a while back? Forget all that. Just kidding. [PS: Apologies for not posting lately. My internet's been down ): ]
    Why is that we feel it's okay to stop tolerating people? Or not tolerate certain people. Certain people "bring it on themselves" or "have a bad attitude" or are just "different" that they don't deserve our acceptance. At least, this is what we like to tell ourselves. I'll admit, as preachy as I may get, I'm guilty of this one. Every now and again, I'll meet a person who I immediately just don't like. This dislike may occur for various reasons--while I like to blame it on pheromones, that may not be the entire truth of the matter. It's physiologically possible for us to dislike people based on the pheromones they excrete, just like it's physiologically programmed for us to be attracted to certain people based on their pheromones. It's a tactic we've evolved to help us find the most suitable mates and most evolutionarily compatible (i.e. non-threatening and non-harmful) companions. But pheromones may also warn us to stay away from certain people the way taste buds warn us about harmful foods.
    I'm no scientist, by anyone's standards. So, take this scientific speak with a grain of salt based on my limited understanding of how the body, and brain, work. If something is bitter, our taste buds let us know, and many times we will tend to avoid that food in the future. If someone's pheromones are distasteful, so to speak, our brain tells us we may want to avoid that person. Here's a question: should we trust our initial physiological instinctive reactions, or should we give people a second chance and try to let them overcome their biology with their psychology?
    Normally, I'd say the latter, but these physiological reactions exist for a reason--self-preservation. Maybe these people aren't all axe murderers or evil geniuses, but what is the reason that our bodies react against them? Perhaps they aren't physically harmful, but psychologically, it's possible. Misery loves company, as they say, and these people we instinctively dislike may be psychologically harmful, if they are negative people, pessimistic people, or just unhappy people. The question is, does our biology pick up on this negativity and send a message to stay away from them so as not to pollute our own psychological well-being? Or am I just whistling dixie out of my ass to justify why we dislike some people?
    As much as I'd like to believe that we all have it within us to be kind and generous and good-hearted towards everyone and anyone, I do believe that there are some people that we will just never like. We may be able to be civil to them and put on a good face, but there will always be something about them that will rub us the wrong way.
    While there aren't too many people out there, I'm talking real people that you meet--not celebrities, politicians, or athletes--that I honestly dislike for whatever reason, there are a couple. I can get along with most anyone, and I try to. I hate confrontation, and I suck at arguments, so staying on people's good sides is something I work very hard at. But every now and again, there comes a person that I genuinely just don't like. I can never put my finger on exactly why. I can give reasons, they have a bad attitude, they're too cocky, they're disrespectful, etc, but those things are not the whole story. They're reasonable reasons for not liking someone, but the dislike goes beyond that. There is just something about them, a je ne sais quoi, but in a bad way, that turns me off about them.
    Clearly, I haven't really made much of an argument for either side of this topic, whether we dislike people for a real physiological reason or whether we make up reasons for why we dislike them, and then there's the further thought: do we trust our instincts about people or should we give them the benefit of the doubt?
    Personally, I think we do dislike people for physiological reasons sometimes, and when that happens, we ought to give them a second chance, or even a third, to redeem themselves. Sometimes they'll surprise you. But sometimes, you're not going to like them no matter how hard you try, and the most you can do is just be nice to them as best you can, and not let the negativity you get from them eat away at you.
Attraction or aversion: which is more easily overcome?

2 comments:

Outnumbered said...

I have this problem - I love everyone I meet. I am not judgmental, I believe everyone has a story and a journey and it's awful to assume you ever really know someone, even those close to you.

The problem? Ever so often, maybe once every couple of years - I come across someone, and from the moment I meet them, they rub me the wrong way. Maybe it's physiological, idk, but as soon as I shake their hand I know, this is a bad person. I feel it deep down in my gut and through every bone of my body and I go into "survival mode" and put as much space between me and them as possible.

I would never ever be outwardly mean to anyone - I will defend myself verbally as well as physically if I feel attacked but if I come across someone who I just instinctually don't like, I create that space between us to prevent being mean or unnecessarily callous toward them.

Constant Writer said...

A lot of people I meet for some reason give me a bad impression, but I always give them a second chance, and there aren't too many that I continue to dislike after getting to know them, but I agree, every now and again, there is that person that you just feel like you shouldn't spend too much time around.
I guess I'd like to point the finger at biology just because I think we like to give psychology too much credit sometimes....

+Constant Writer

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