First, the disclaimer. My life would be utterly devoid of meaning without the connections I have made. The energy exchange I enjoy with my partner, my family members and my friends is a non-negotiable requirement for my day to day happiness. There’s nothing quite like a long chat with a loved one who knows your entire history and totally gets you.
I’m lucky enough to have a handful of close life-long friends, all of whom I trust completely and would do absolutely anything for, and some of whom I have known since kindergarten. These people don’t just keep me entertained, they also keep me honest, and I love them for it. I don’t even need to be in super-regular contact with some of these friends for our connection to remain as strong as ever. Sometimes our lives get busy, as lives tend to do, and six months or more can go by without any contact whatsoever, but the moment we do connect again everything snaps back into place instantly and it’s as if we are just continuing the last conversation we were having.
Over the course of my adult life, for a variety of reasons, I have let some friends go, and some friends have let me go, and that’s OK. You don’t always grow in the same direction as the friends you had when you were in your teens, or as your life circumstances change a friendship that once seemed vital might feel a lot less so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you just drift apart slowly and sometimes there’s a definite end point, like a big fight that the friendship can’t recover from. It happens. Actually, it needs to happen. Who the hell even has the time to stay connected to every single acquaintance they have ever made? For me, the occasional culling of my circle of friends, as brutal as this may seem, feels necessary and healthy.
One of the things I would like to think I am getting better at as I get older is working out which connections are helpful and enriching, and which ones are actually much more toxic and draining than they are worth. In other words, I think it’s important to work out who the psychic vampires are in your life and unapologetically ditch them.
Psychic vampires are those people who leave you feeling strangely depleted after you have spent time with them. They will make every conversation all about themselves and their drama du jour and they will drain every last drop of energy you have if you let them. Sure, sometimes a friend might be going through a tough time and it needs to be all about them for a while. We all have times where we need to pull focus in our friendships, and the willingness to hear a friend out when they are in need is an important part of what makes a long term friendship tick. Occasionally you’ll need to lean on each other, and the balance of the conversation tilts accordingly. But the difference between a real friend and a psychic vampire is that a real friend at least knows how to stop talking after a little while and ask, “…and how are you?”
Psychic vampires are one of many personality types I tend to avoid. I’m also super-wary of anybody who makes sweeping statements about themselves, because it is usually pretty obvious that the underlying truth is more often than not the exact opposite of whatever they are telling you.
I’ve never met an honest person who says “I’m a straight shooter” or an intelligent person who feels the need to tell you how smart they are. People who say things like “I really need to focus on myself for a change” are some of the most selfish people i’ve ever met. It’s been my experience that people who say “I hate drama” love starting it. Whenever I hear someone say “I’m fine” it immediately makes me suspect that they are far from fine. I point-blank refuse to to trust anyone who says “trust me” and I am utterly convinced that anyone who says “I’m always happy” secretly cries themselves to sleep at night.
It amazes me how often I hear people make proclamations about themselves that are the exact opposite of the truth. If you want to put this theory to the test, listen carefully next time you hear someone say “I’m not racist, but…” and there’s a pretty decent chance that whatever comes out of their mouth next would make a KKK member blush.
If, like me, you try to avoid stupid people where possible the good news is that the signs of stupidity are generally pretty easy to spot. Stupid people love starting sentences with phrases like “Not a lot of people know this…” immediately followed by something that anybody with an IQ above room temperature already has already been well aware of for their entire lives. Stupid people have a tendency to over explain the basics, assuming that everybody else is as dull as they are and that they therefore require a detailed explanation.
Stupid people don’t learn from their mistakes, expressing shock when they get the same result over and over again. In an office environment, stupid people will use made-up buzzwords to mask their lack of knowledge. Stupid people will present you with a fully formed passionately presented opinion on a news story they haven’t fully read, lacking the ability to filter information and sort facts from bullshit because they get their news from their Facebook feed which they themselves have curated so that the news stories they see all support their pre-existing beliefs.
I recently had an Uber driver who revealed himself to be a flat earther. That was a pretty excruciating trip home. If I’d have been in a taxi I would have told him to shut the fuck up about thirty seconds into his inane ramblings, but concern that my Uber rating might be impacted if I told him what I really think had me sitting there silently nodding along to his bullshit.
He repeatedly used expressions like “everybody knows that…” when describing things that there is absolutely no verifiable proof of. “I saw this documentary and it said…” was another favourite go-to expression, and he finished each thought with “that’s a fact!” despite not presenting anything that seemed even remotely verifiably factual. He even offered to send me the YouTube link to the documentaries he was talking about, “…so you can learn more about it” which made me shudder slightly when I remembered that as an Uber driver this guy already had my phone number. I mumbled a lie about looking those documentaries up myself thanks very much, and got out of the car as quickly as I could. Zero stars for you, my Uberlosipher friend.
Stupid people can’t tell your from you’re or there from they’re from their, and when challenged on this they will often respond by wearing their stupidity as as some sort of bizarre badge of honour, as if their lack of education somehow makes them more ‘real’. Stupid people also have a bizarre habit of putting the letter K where it does not belong, resulting in made-up words like ‘ekspecially’ and ‘somethink’.
Stupid people think it’s a great idea to advertise their dislike of animal cruelty by posting sickeningly explicit images of animal cruelty all over your Facebook feed. I’m sure you know people like this. These are the kind of people who fear change, exhibit a victim mentality, make excuses, fall for every conspiracy theory doing the rounds, spew hypocrisy based on their lack of self awareness, and just generally annoy the living shit out of everybody who gets sucked into their orbit of idiocy often without even realizing what they are doing. That’s the funny thing about stupid people; they’re usually much more blissfully unaware of their own limitations than the smarter people around them. It reminds me of the movie The Sixth Sense.
“I see stupid people. Walking Around Like Regular People. They don’t know they’re stupid.”
Pause: Now that I’ve totally ruined the end of that movie for anyone who hasn’t already seen it, time for a quick reality check. If you’ve just read that laundry list of annoying habits of stupid people and seen yourself in some of them, well… you’re not alone. I’m putting my hand up and copping to having exhibited at least half of those traits at some point. I mean, who wasn’t at least a bit of an idiot in their early 20’s? I know I was. Unpause.
Here’s another curious thing I have noticed about stupid people over the years. When you meet someone who is highly intelligent, it’s usually pretty evident right away, but sometimes dumb has an odd way of creeping up on you slowly. There have been occasions where I’ve known someone for six months or more before I have come to realise just how stupid they really are, at which point I start backing away slowly.
But it’s not all bad. In a roundabout way I actually learn a lot of important life lessons from the stupid people I come into contact with in that they have a strange way of reminding me how not to behave and what not to become. That’s why I call these people (behind their back, of course) my challenged zen masters, a term which is admittedly way more offensive than anything these people did to deserve that title in the first place. And in case you’re now wondering, no, I am not in the least bit concerned about offending my challenged zen masters because I have hidden my criticism of them in a place they will never find it; sixteen hundred words deep into a blog.