Vegan ManifestoNovember 5, 2014
Pet Friendly FloridaApril 22, 2015
There are two main threats to interpersonal well-being: insecurities, and INSECURITIES. People have a hard time getting along with others because they fear that at some point they will be wrong, and God forbid, they may have to apologize. People hate to be wrong, but hate to apologize even more. As a social scientist intrigued by these phenomena, I developed a mathematical formula according to which the “need to be right about everything all the time and never apologize” is inversely related to looks, smarts, or money.
The more insecure you feel about your looks, intelligence, or pocket book, the more you feel you have to be right about everything else in life. This is called a compensatory model. You compensate for your foolishness by feeling that you are right about everything.
Sometimes the need to be right about everything all the time is conflated with smarts. Take universities for example, where most professors think they are brilliant. In that case, our subjects compensate for being obstinate and underpaid by coming across as smarter than they really are, which only reinforces the need to be right about everything all the time, which makes universities as much fun as the inquisition.
Sometimes, looks and money are not enough to conquer insecurities. People work hard to come across as smart. A wealthy acquaintance, with the intellectual curiosity of an ant, was spotted lounging next to a swimming pool pretending to read From Nietzsche to Foucault.Either pretentiousness got the best of her, or she thought Nietzsche and Foucaultwere the latest European shoes. But I shouldn’t be saying these things. It probably means that I have no money, or don’t look great, both of which are right, and for neither of which I’m going to apologize because I’m a university professor.
Another acquaintance, big on money, has a very bad case of need to be right about everything all the time and never apologize, including things he has absolutely no idea about. But if might makes right, money makes wise. Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof got it right: “When you’re rich, they think you really know!” Worse than that, when you’re rich, you think you know.
“If I were a Rich Man” is the most evocative and artistic expression of my mathematical formula. “If I were a Rich Man……I’d see my wife…looking like a rich man’s wife…..supervising meals to her heart’s delight…..screaming at the servants, day and night.”
Primal insecurities get in the way of enjoying vulnerability and the liberating ability to say “I’m sorry” or “I don’t know.” We fear that if we admit ignorance or mistakes something terrible will happen.
Sometimes I feel that if I make a mistake I will be fired, Anti-Semitism will rise, Jews will be deported to Iran, UPS will change the color of its fleet, and the pharmacy will run out of Senocot.
Beset by the need to be right all the time, and the obsession with money, looks, and smarts, humanity has two options: Elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — who is now available — to replace Barack Obama, or move to Miami, which leads me to a local corollary of my main thesis: Cognitive function in Miami is inversely related to the number of plastic surgeries, which says nothing about money, because in Miami Medicare pays for everything, including colonoscopies for dead people in Havana.
It is really too bad that we spend so much time compensating for our insecurities that we miss the entire point of relationships, which is to have someone who can love you despite your big ears, someone who can put up with your terrible real estate decisions, and someone who lets you think you are funny. What really matters in life is not how we look on the outside, but what happens on the inside, like your digestive system. If more people could talk about their bowel movements without feeling defensive, or self-conscious, we could reverse the divorce trend and bring peace to the Middle East.
To conclude, what I really want to say about relationships is this: stay away from university professor