It’s very common that I have a loose concept for a blog post without a real idea of how to put it into writing. When this happens the idea usually rattles around in my head like catchy song lyrics. Over the summer I had an experience that caused me to question a friend’s character. More specifically I thought to myself “Maybe he’s just a horrible person?” It was one of those situations where you justify the bad actions of someone you know because it’s easier than dealing with the truth. The question stuck with me for months. So much so that I started to exam other people in my life more closely and discovered other horrible character candidates. I discovered the problem with this question is that the answer is never really clear. Although I thought of it I continued to keep up appearances in person because there is a possibility I was over reacting or jumping to conclusions. The idea however would not unglue itself from my brain.
Much like sexuality being a horrible person exists on a spectrum. If asked to describe a horrible person most of us would describe a cruel angry person who is prone to violence and hatred. Those people are at the far end of the spectrum whereas the people I’m talking about exist somewhere in the middle. It’s the point when it goes beyond an annoying personality quirk (he ignores your text messages) and becomes something indicative of a deeper problem (selling cocaine to high-schoolers). Questioning someones character can also happen in reaction to a major event. I remember several years ago when a close friend’s father died. At the funeral he remarked how it shocked him who showed up and who didn’t. He said there were some causal acquaintances that drove several hours to show their support and other friends of several decades who couldn’t find the time to even send a card. It’s one of those moments when you look at a friend and realize that years of comradery were based solely on vodka and Fritos.
Cut to yesterday when I spent a lazy Sunday watching a marathon of The Real Housewives of Melbourne. The show was exactly what you’d expect and the two part reunion followed the same format as every other Housewife franchise. Each woman was confronted with video revealing her true thoughts and feelings about her fellow cast mates. Arguments and tears ensued and inevitably someone walked off in distress. That’s when it hit me. What if each of us had to sit through a reunion style episode where we were interrogated about our honest thought and opinions of people we know? Incriminating text messages would be read and we would get questions like “Why did you tell Todd that you find Steven’s DJing boring and reductive?” or “Why didn’t you give money to Anthony’s Kickstarter?” We would have to own up to the fact that we think his Kickstarter is actually subsidizing his foreskin regrowth addiction and not the children’s charity that he claims. We would have to admit to the world that while Anthony is fun to hang out with on a Saturday night, deep down we can’t help but feel that he’s just a horrible person. At that point in the show Anthony would no doubt lunge across the stage and try and rip out our weave.
The host (my pick would be Tim Gunn) of the ambush reunion would undoubtedly ask, “If you think he’s horrible, why are you still friends?” It’s a valid question with numerous possible answers. Horrible people can be fun to hang out with every so often. Maybe he gives really good Christmas presents or maybe he’s so cute that you overlook the bad parts. Sometimes the horrible details legitimately have nothing to do with us and can be brushed off as non of our business. Other times it’s pure avoidance and laziness. In addition there is always the possibility that we’re wrong about our assumptions. There may be information we don’t know or false gossip clouding our judgement. For all we know Anthony may in fact be giving every cent of that money to the needy Himalayan whistle kids. In my case the person was not that close of a friend to warrant a major breakup or investigation so instead I just sort of faded him out and quietly unfriended him on Facebook. Luckily I’m not on a Bravo reality show so my newly unfriended enemies won’t be paraded before me in a surprise attack.
Despite what they may think (and in some cases what we tell them) we don’t always agree with every aspect of a person. Most of the time that’s just part of being human but in certain cases it becomes unhealthy to keep those toxic people in our lives. Horrible people can be everyone from the guys who sells cocaine to the guy who’s funny but deep down cares nothing about anyone else’s well being. Either way don’t be tricked into thinking that horrible people are easy to spot. Sometimes it takes years for them to show their true colors.