Hurting Others to Protect Yourself Never Works

backyard-wrestling-kellyshibariSunday television is funny. It’s usually a marathon of reality television, followed by movies from the 80s. But it was the reality television that got me thinking. I was watching “Operation Repo” (don’t ask, my brain was flatlining after a particularly long week) and I realized something really depressing.

We’re becoming less tolerant of each other, and more worried about our own self-image.

By allowing our egos to get the better of us, we tend to fight rather than try to understand. We jump to conclusions, are quick to accuse, and are less likely to be the one to back down. Does this come from a lack of understanding? A fear of looking like an idiot? A need to appear cool in front of their friends, the camera, the world?

A television documentary about reality television actually showed that the public prefers drama. Producers are known to convince a reality show participant to behave differently than they would, or to be bigger than their real personalities, in order to boost ratings. The people that the audience remembers tend not to be the nice girl, but the crazy one that keeps getting into fights. Much like kids who watch professional wrestling or shows like “Jackass”, and then jump off of their house onto a wooden table and wonder why they have to be taken to a hospital, people are more likely to start a fistfight before talking things out these days. Remember those parents at kids’ sports games that are kicked off the field for fighting?

On “Operation Repo,” the main draw for the audience is seeing how people react when they realize their vehicle is being repossessed. The snippets range from a stockbroker who’d lost his job and was living in his car, to a guy who hadn’t paid his girlfriend’s car payments. I’m sure they knew that the repossession was going to happen. But in all the cases, you never see someone just hand the keys over. They argue, fight, accuse, and throw things at the repo agents. The repo agents are just doing their job – something they wouldn’t have had to do had the person actually made the payments. It’s actually more sad than entertaining to see these people struggle to hold on to their dignity by denying that they were behind. The interesting thing is, it would have been more dignified had they just accepted their fate and acted like adults rather than wailing, screaming children.

Part of the show also included the arguments between the repo agents themselves. They talk about how people should just be calmer and behave like adults, but then they turn around and scream and accuse each other of everything from not picking them up while they were walking (the other person was busy hitching up the car) to just looking at them the wrong way. It may be interesting to watch, but I’d rather watch a team that behaves like a cohesive unit, whether it be working partners or life partners.

I know this may be boring, but there’s more to be said for a person who is willing to take a step back and try to understand the other person before resorting to name-calling and flying fists. It may be boring to the rest of the world, but at the end of the day, it’s a better tactic. 9 times out of 10, people will walk away from a conversation feeling that even if the other person didn’t agree, at least their opinion was heard.

Sometimes, I think that people purposefully bait others into admitting fault, or have some sort of conspiracy theory in mind when they have insecurities. That person that questions something innocent that you’ve said tends to say more about what they think about you, and what they think about themselves, rather than the truth. Like they say, those that think others are guilty are often guilty themselves. The worst part is that most of the time, everyone ends up walking away hurt.

Tolerance is a rare thing these days. We say we teach our kids to be tolerant, but then we send them a mixed message when we can’t control our own emotions. Take the time. Learn tolerance in all its shapes and colors. Take a moment before reacting, screaming, shouting, throwing, and accusing. I think that you’d be surprised to find that most of the time, there was nothing to get all riled up about in the first place.