Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Games People Play

David Brooks is writing about his divorce again:
If you are like me you know a lot of relationships in which people haven’t managed this sort of transition well. Communication that was once honest and life-enhancing has become perverted — after a transition — by resentment, neediness or narcissism.
Or maybe about his former employer, Bloody Bill Kristol, whose profound influence on his career Mr. Brooks actively avoids mentioning:
We all know men and women who stalk ex-lovers online; people who bombard a friend with emails even though that friendship has evidently cooled; mentors who resent their former protégés when their emails are no longer instantly returned; people who post faux glam pictures on Instagram so they can “win the breakup” against their ex.
Or maybe it's about Bibi Netanyahu.  Or Barack Obama no longer returning his calls.  Or some coed.  Or...whatever.
Instant communication creates a new sort of challenge. How do you gracefully change your communication patterns when one person legitimately wants to step back or is entering another life phase?

The paradox is that the person doing the leaving controls the situation, but greater heroism is demanded of the one being left behind. The person left in the vapor trail is hurt and probably craves contact. It’s amazing how much pain there is when what was once intimate conversation turns into unnaturally casual banter, emotional distance or just a void.

The person left behind also probably thinks that the leaver is making a big mistake. She probably thinks that it’s stupid to leave or change the bond; that the other person is driven by selfishness, shortsightedness or popularity.

Yet if the whole transition is going to be managed with any dignity, the person being left has to swallow the pain and accept the decision.
It's 800 words of real estate on the op-ed page of the New York Times about breaking up being hard to do what with the Twitter and the Instagrams and the Tinder and such.

Go figure.


Brian D. O'Neill said...

"No Compassion" by Talking Heads works perfectly here.

In a world
where people have problems
In this world
where decisions are a way of life
Other people's problems they overwhelm my mind
They say compassion is a virtue, but I don't have the time

So many people...have their problems
I'm not interested...in their problems
I guess I've...experienced some problems
But now I've...made some decisions
It takes a lot of time to push away the nonsense
Take my compassion...Push it as far as it goes
My interest level's dropping, my interest level is dropping
I've heard all I want to, I don't want to hear any more

What are you, in love with your problems?
I think you take it...a little too far
It's...not so cool to have so many problems
But don't expect me to explain your indecisions
Go...talk to your analyst, isn't that what they're paid for
You walk, you talk...You still function like you used to
It's not a question...Of your personality or style
Be a little more selfish, it might do you some good

In a world where people have problems
In this world where decisions are a way of life
Other people's problems, they overwhelm my mind
They say compassion is a virtue, but I don't have the time
(Here we go again)

Jerry B said...

Did he and Mark Shields break up?

steeve said...

If that column was assigned reading in a high school class i didn't want but was forced to have, i'd expect it to be empty and boring and still complain at how empty and boring it was. No textbook is this bad.

Neo Tuxedo said...

Woody Smith says in his Notebooks: "Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of -- but do it in private, and wash your hands afterward." It's hard, sometimes, not to think he somehow had David Fucking Brooks in mind.

Anonymous said...

The Tinder? Now there's something else I have to pretend I understand?

Scott Drager said...

Nice work... if you can get it.