Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Distance Drug

In a world where it is impossible to be anywhere without touching something, we as people have a funny addiction to creating space around us, whether real or imagined. From the time we are small children we begin building our own private fortresses of perceived  protection. It's no shock really, the world is a harsh place. Coping skills (or the lack thereof) determine what our life experiences ultimately distill into, and distance seems to be a popular way to go about it. So what are the most common forms of using distance as a coping tool?

  Some of us build castles of passive protection- featuring a carefully crafted moat. This moat contains a magical substance which instantly turns into the favorite beverage of the beholder, yet remains nearly impossible to swim across.

  Some seek aggressive absence- insured by pompous parapets lined with rows of contentious cannons, ready to fire off a variety of heart-seeking munitions.

  Yet others manage to combine the two, forming a passive-aggressive labyrinth where only the bravest of adventurers dare navigate. The paths through such a daunting dichotomy are often lined with pleasant sights and sounds, but chances are: all the doors are locked. What is kept behind these doors is anyone's guess. The visitor who ventures past the initial niceties far enough to have the opportunity of knocking on one of the inner doors is pretty brave just for getting to that point. But knock long enough to illicit a response from within, and you may be met with anything from your favorite meal and a back rub, to a World Cup caliber kick in the shins.

  Additionally, something worth noting is the order of execution in which the passive and aggressive methods are combined. The most commonly observed is the passive trait being the default mode of operation, with the aggressive manifesting in various unexpected and intricate forms (often driven by the subconscious mind, despite the best efforts of the individual). Now on the other hand, seeing the aggressive behavior manifest primarily, and passive traits follow, throws an interesting spin on things.

  It would not be hard for those who know me personally to furnish examples of me exhibiting passive-aggressive behavior. (Yes... admittedly, I fall into this category.) However, I would point out that for me the process usually flows the other way around- starting out assertive, and ending up rather passive. For example: I have no problem speaking my mind, often to a fault. But if the encounter goes south, I often tend to avoid that person or situation thereafter as a means of avoiding "uncomfortable conflict" which has supplanted the healthy intellectual debate I prefer.

  All of us have come in contact with one or more of these forms of distance at one time or another, whether we knew it or not. One thing is for sure though- regardless of the method or the means, we humans have an obvious need to feel something that this "distance" creates ...or at least simulates.

So which flavor of the "distance drug" is your favorite?  ;)


  1. I don't know that I use that drug... I tend to suck people in. Be my friend! Be my friend! :)

    1. Good point, I should write a piece on the opposite inclination too! :)

  2. much to say about this...your "example" of how you deal, tastes very familiar.