My Skeptical Blindspot: People

There was an Afternoon Inquiry (or Inqueery, I can’t remember if it was Skepchick or Queereka) a few months ago which asked about skeptical blindspots–that is, things that skeptics don’t question enough or that they don’t speculate about which they probably should. For lots of other people, this thing is GPS or Wikipedia or a close friend. I have learned in the last couple days that People are my skeptical blindspot.

I thought I’d had my skeptic nerve sufficiently shocked into function when I was surprised with a nearly $400 fee on a blood test I was told would be $50 a few months ago. That was a shitty way to realize that I’m not skeptical enough of the medical community. My People blindspot was uncovered in a less unpleasant, but no less surprising way.

A few months ago, I wrote about some animosity from one of my coworkers that was really messing me up and seemed to come out of nowhere. All of a sudden, three days in a row, this woman I work with yelled at me, cried while telling me I’m terrible (the trigger word of trigger words), and made me feel like I couldn’t speak without damaging someone around me.

Clearly, it was very upsetting at the time. I couldn’t understand where it was coming from and it was shaking me just when I’d recovered from another episode.

After a bubble of time away from each other and a month or two of light treading on my part, everything seems to have died down. I’ve since figured that there was something going on at home (her parents are probably going to die soon) or something was triggering her in some way I didn’t understand. I’ve given her the benefit of the doubt because there’s no way for me to know what’s happening in her head, and I can empathize with being stressed out and on a hair-trigger.

It has recently come to my attention that this was apparently not a case of stress-induced, unintentional lashing out. My understanding is that these three days were the culmination of months of collaborated work against me between two of my coworkers. Their goal? Who the fuck knows. Maybe they wanted me to quit or change shifts. As it was, I never considered quitting and only a few times pondered going to day shift before deciding that I quite like my job as-is.

The thing about this that gets to me is that I had no idea this was happening. The abuse seemed to be randomly slung at me for no reason, with no cause, from nowhere. I had not been aware of any tension between any of us before that point. And perhaps more importantly, the coworker who didn’t freak out at me to my face was never a suspect to me. (It has also come to light that these types of things have occurred with this person before, and others that I work with.)

I can’t figure out if it’s that I’m totally oblivious and easily manipulated, or if I didn’t notice because it wasn’t bothering me until there was actually a confrontation right in front of my face. I have a tendency to be extremely introverted, especially at work, so it’s also possible that I’m so constantly wrapped up in what’s going on in my head that I don’t really care about what people are saying or doing when I’m in that state.

I’m a pretty easy person to be around. I generally don’t tell anyone any information about me that I’m not comfortable with the world knowing. Basically, anything I say to people in person I’ve probably already put on the internet for the world to see. I’m not distrusting of other humans. It takes quite a bit to give me reason to suspect someone of harbouring ill-will toward me, and I pretty much treat everyone as though they have good–or at least neutral–intentions.

Other people are not like that. Other people will mess with me for fun, or for spite, or to gain an advantage. My desire to see the good in people is not a practical virtue to utilise in every day life.

And one of the biggest things that’s upsetting me–something that makes my stomach turn and my chest clench up–is that my friendships and personal relationships have now been thrust under the microscope. How many friends have I had who never really liked me? Is it wrong that I tend to trust my father unreservedly(yes)? How many people do I currently know who only speak to me to collect information about me, to use later?

Another thing; this information obviously had to come from a source. I find this source very easy to trust and like, and I’ve almost always perceived them as genuine. How much of that is true? How much can I even trust that they were telling me the truth–that I was being handled? How do I know I’m not being handled for some reason by them?

How can I ever tell if someone is gaining my confidence for genuine purposes or exploitation? I really want to believe and trust the source of this information–but right now that’s just making me more skeptical. My emotions can get in the way pretty easily, and the fact that I find it so easy to be open around them makes me wonder if that’s an instinct I should go with.

This is all on top of already having self-esteem issues about being around people and having friends. Did I sound weird when I said that? Am I being too open about my personal life and weirding them out? Are people going to be okay with me being an atheist? Do I seem too desperate and clingy? Should I distance myself from this person to avoid making a misstep? Am I too fucked up and abnormal to ever have true companionship outside my marriage?

And for that matter, how many times could Chris have manipulated me without my knowing? I certainly recognize times when I could do that kind of stuff to him (and others), but I never do because that’s just not the person I am. I don’t hurt people intentionally. I don’t fool people into thinking I’m interested in them (unless in the loosest of “I have to be around you” terms). I try not to manipulate people and tend to instead manipulate situations, usually for personal gain or to aide someone else, and always with care not to harm anyone else in the culmination of my efforts.

This is all making me really uncomfortable. I really hate this feeling of elevated hyper-skepticism that has me doubting every relationship I’ve ever had. Despite my anxiety on the subject, I feel I can trust Chris not to do this to me, and my best friend Kate. Oh, and my dad. Everyone else.. I really, really want to not feel.. I dunno. Closed off? Betrayed? It’s as though I’m a snail who touched something by accident and hastily retracted into its shell. I can’t even help it, and it doesn’t feel good.

I don’t like having my judgement undermined. I don’t like the reality that most people are not Good in the same ways I am. I don’t like the idea of living with everything close to my chest, coolly distant from all but a few people.

I especially don’t like the part where I feel inadequate because someone could easily pretend to like or value or appreciate me while planning insidious things. It’s not as though it’s a failing on my part, but it sometimes feels like it is.

2 thoughts on “My Skeptical Blindspot: People

  1. It is really a privilege to be so trusted. You're the only one I trust with every part of myself. Every other person only gets the stuff I want them to see. I don't ever feel like I have to do that with you. You're my best friend and I love you :)


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