A few days ago, as I scrolled rapidly down my Facebook newsfeed, I was arrested by this sentence:
You are heartless if you scroll by without hitting a ‘like’ on this post.
Under this sentence was (as you can guess, I’m sure) a pathetic and sad photo of a wounded dog. Normally nonsense of this kind swishes by my ears but for once I stopped, thinking at the motivation of the person who created the post… and of those who fell for his/ her trap.
While I have as much compassion as anyone else- and often a tad smidgen more- such posts leave me absolutely cold. In the first place, there is nothing I can do to alleviate the pain of the sufferer. In the second, I intensely resent any attempt to jab me with a guilt needle. And lastly, the fact that someone would want to post something as pointless as this, in an effort to provoke an entirely pointless response from people they don’t know from Adam, plumbs the deepest depths of revolting pointlessness!
How often do you let yourself be Guilt-Tripped by a sly manipulator? Click To Tweet
How many times have you come across posts like “Type an Amen and ‘like’ the post”? How many times have you been accused of apathy by default where you must prove to the contrary by sharing/ forwarding/ liking/ blah-blah some wretchedly pitiful message on social media? And we’re not even starting on the forward this post to at least 10 people in the next ten minutes or else posts!
What gives them the right to accost me thus? What makes them think it is my job to reassure them of my compassion and ability to care- specially when they have already concluded the opposite?Why would I even bother? What makes them think that by waving their misfortunes in my face they would automatically win the right to demand anything of me? If they choose to believe me (and the rest of their hapless audience) cold and unfeeling, so be it! Why should the audience hasten to disprove an unsubstantiated accusation?
You were never created to live depressed, defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed or unworthy. You were created to be victorious.
~ Joel Osteen
There are those who create and use baseless conclusions, yes. What makes them tick is the hoards of well-meaning folks who fall for their trap! Without the latter, the former wouldn’t get off first base! Yes, I’m speaking of you! You and I, my dear. Don’t look around, we’re alone here, you and I, in your mind-space. It is we who make the Guilt Inducer’s game possible. You and I. Not the Guilt Inducer, but us.
Many years ago there was a phase when many door-to-door marketing companies had sprung up in my town like wild mushrooms during monsoon. These companies functioned by offering on-job training to young boys and girls for a nominal fee with the promise of an assured job at the end of training. It worked out for both parties and so it flourished.
The upshot of this was that budding, enthusiastic door-to-door salesmen-to-be blighted our door step all through the day. They would be carrying low priced items- cooking implements, spoon sets, books or other simple household items. Sometimes I bought stuff from them because I needed/ liked what they were offering. Most often, I refused to buy.
One day when answered the doorbell, I found one of the boys of the door-to-door fleet about to languish on the doormat. The lad began his sales pitch with tears in his eyes. He had to have the sales it seems, otherwise they would kick him out of the course. Please, please, would I buy? Please? And he stood there, languishing, looking totally and utterly fake.
He couldn’t have known whether I would refuse to buy or not, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Unfortunately for him, raising three kids taught me well how to distinguish fake tears from real ones. I remained unmoved.
I gave the boy a glass of water and asked him to come in and sit down. I asked him if there was anything hurting or bothering him. When, a little surprised, he answered in the negative, I asked him why he was trying to cut a sorry figure. With a sly smile he told me he always used that ploy- specially if the person answering the doorbell was a lady.
“How did you dare”, I asked him indignantly, “to provoke me into feeling guilty so you could further your own agenda? How did you think that by projecting yourself as an object of pity, you could get me to buy something I don’t need?”
I don’t know why people let others make them feel guilty at the drop of a hat. I don’t know why they rush to justify themselves to people they neither know nor care about. I know why the Guilt Inducers do what they do, but I am yet to understand why the victims of this particular sham allow the game of the trickster to be successful.
Even admirable human desires for love, for belonging, and for meaning can be manipulated by unscrupulous individuals to benefit themselves.
~ Noah Berlatsky
The purpose of the manipulator could be anything; the method they use may differ; the context- and hence the content- of the inducement may be different. They deliberately induce a feeling of unjustified, unearned guilt in you so they can manipulate you into doing what suits them best. It could be for something as simple and innocent as a quick financial gain and as complex as a desire to gain moral ascendancy and power. Whatever be the purpose, the method remains the same.
When you let an unsubstantiated, blanket accusation from someone- whether a stranger or someone you know well- provoke you into a hasty apology, a belligerent refute or an abject justification, you say more than you ever intended to say. You declare that you are so precarious in your opinion of yourself that any stray kick can topple you to a heap. You tell the world that since their opinion matters the world to you, all they need to do in order to manipulate you into doing their bidding, is to accuse you of something and sit back.
You will do all the rest. You will bend over backwards to refute their unfounded accusations and unflattering conclusions. You will not question their right to judge you, you will curl yourself into a ball and beg to not be judged unfairly. In the process, you will let yourself be pushed into doing things you’d never have thought of doing otherwise. Things, which you actually consider unfair, base and downright wrong if you saw someone else do them!
In the hands of such skilled manipulators, you become putty. You lose your rationality and objectivity. You become incapable of reasonable value-judgment. You strongest- and often the only- priority becomes the need to justify, clarify, refute and explain your stand. And you jump into it with all there is in you, without a thought of what you are jumping into. The manipulator watches on with an inner glee while an expression of lofty disgust remains hitched into place outwardly.
So often victims end up unnecessarily prolonging their abuse because they buy into the notion that their abuser must be coming from a wounded place and that only patient love and tolerance (and lots of misguided therapy) will help them heal.
~ George K. Simo
How easy you make it for the tricksters to perpetrate their tricks on you! Do you really want to be such an easy mark? They use guilt to further their agenda because you let them make you feel guilty. Click To Tweet The power was always yours, why give it away? The good is not served when you so abdicate your power, you surely know that.
Your benevolence is being used against you. Beware!
Oh yes, l’ve meet these kinds. Very silly when people pull such tricks on FB. And you’re right, raising kids makes us catch these false tears in a jiffy.
I sometimes wonder what such manipulators tell themselves when they are so obviously fake. Such confidence! Where do they get it?
Well, you know how I feel about this and many other kinds of stuff people post on FB ? Like you I also just go on scrolling without giving a second thought to such updates. But you are right sometimes one does wonder about the kind of mindset that seeks this type of attention from acquaintances or even strangers. Is it really a deep loneliness somewhere inside or is it just a “me me me” type of thing? Maybe the two are connected.
I don’t care about those who do it. Their motivations are bound to be shallow. I do wonder about those who permit this idiocy to survive and thrive. Why do people feel compelled to clarify and justify themselves to any stray Tom Dick and Harry that comes along? Why do the opinions and accusations of absolute stranger matter so much? What happens to their own objective evaluation of themselves?
Your self-conception must be the core out of which all your value-judgments spring. In the absence of a substantial self-conception, the core is a feeble and weak vine instead of a solid oak tree. Do people operate out of a vacuum? Somehow, I find the thought scary. It seems too zombie-like.
I think it all boils down to being noticed, whether for positive or negative reasons is immaterial.
Yeah, even if you kick me in the mouth I’m happy because at least you noticed my worthless existence!
This used to be in the form of chain post cards when I was growing up. My mother had fallen for it once before stopping and making others stop too. But that it has just changed form half a century later is what is astonishing. Have people not evolved at all? It is not just the ‘or else’ stuff, even the forwarding of posts to the best friend, best mother and so on get my goat. This is somewhat like the boys/men/women who come with a printed piece of paper with their sob stories and try to get your sympathy and money. Anyway, I simply ignore these posts and forwards and if that means some ‘or else’, bring it on!
Your last sentence made me grin with a wicked and wholesome joy! Yeah, ‘bring it on’ is what I mutter too, chin duly jutted. And I know exactly what you mean by those who go about with a placard/ printout of their sob story and try wheedling money out of you. I shoo them away… and I don’t give a damn if I’m thought callous by the ‘milk of human kindness’ brigade. Bah to them! 😀