Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Danger In Shielding Oneself

In a story I recently read, Pandora's Star, the human race becomes concerned about a shield -- an apparent force field -- that envelopes another solar system. Why would anyone need to be shielded unless they were a threat? If the shield is a defense, then -- so the reasoning goes -- they're likely to go on the offense.

Although it's only a story, this sort of reasoning is applied to people like me on a fairly regular basis. I've tried to understand it over the years. If I spend too much time alone, or if I don't spill my guts to everyone who wants them spilt, it tends to make people uncomfortable. Liking my privacy has never been an acceptable answer. I think the reasoning goes like this:

I can be private as long as I'm not noticed. If I choose to be in the company of others, or to make myself noticed, then I'm asking to be questioned. If I choose to remain quiet in company, or to remain apart, shielding myself from others, so to speak, then I must be hiding something. And if I'm hiding something, then there must be something troubling me; anything troubling me is likely to become dangerous for others later on.

Or, at least, that's how I imagine the onset of fear progresses.

Not everyone minds having a quiet person around. But it's a rare find. It's a kind and accepting nature that allow others to just be -- to join when we want, to talk when we have something to say, to stick around even when we're not entirely involved.

A shield isn't necessarily a danger. Sometimes it's just a way of life.



Jonathan M said...

I'm not even sure it's that...

In my experience, people are uneasy around the withdrawn because withdrawn people send out those 'weirdo' vibes that tend to make people uneasy. I've managed to find a place in the world that guarantees little unwanted human contact and I've found that if I don't force myself to interact with humans, I'll usually just sit there quietly in social gatherings and that freaks people out slightly.

I don't think people genuinely believe that we have these forces building inside us while we're quiet, I just think people are put-off by our quietness and so assume that there's something wrong with with us, which places them on their guard.

Zeri Kyd said...

Jonathan, I don't know about "weirdo" vibes :-), but I agree that quietness tends to make others uneasy. It seems like a silly thing to be freaked out about, but such is the way of things, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Years ago I accidentally developed a defense against nosy people. When I get anxious, I babble. I babble about inconsequentials and bookish boring things and scifi tv shows until whoever is bugging me gets tired of it and goes away. More recently I've graduated to extreme honesty and overt rudeness. It works. They tend to go the f*ck away and leave me in peace.

Zeri Kyd said...

Hi, Anon, your kind of defense is one that I'd probably enjoy seeing in action. I get it, though. Sometimes we do awkward things as we adjust to dealing with others.