Monday, June 25, 2007

We are not who we are

(as a side note, I know I said I was going on hiatus, but you just can't keep a blogger down).

There's an x-files episode where some scientists are trapped near the Arctic circle. They're studying the ice core. They all start to go crazy. In the end of the episode, we find out it's because of a parasite - an alien being. Scully and Mulder are saved again. Who knows how many shots someone would have done during the program (there was a chain email, from back in the day of Pine/pico)of when you would do shots during the program. Scully was trapped, Mulder was trapped, Mulder calls Scully "Dana", etc.

Trust is a delicate thing.

I tend to take everyone at face value. So you say you're from a small town in Ohio? You're a part-time artist? Chances are I'll believe you. Both in person or on the internet (much more risky).

I have gotten in trouble for this before. I tend to take people at face value, trust them until they give me a reason not to trust them anymore.

And truly, it doesn't matter. When I just work next to someone, or talk with a waitress at a restaurant who is a triplet, or respond to a poster on rfm who says they grew up in a polygamous community, it doesn't really matter to me whether or not they're telling the truth.

But when there is someone who I care about deeply - who may be lying to me, what can I do? And what happens if that person is suffering from mental illness, which may or may not impact their perception of the truth?

I find myself hastily erecting boundaries that were not there before.

I don't think that I can change this about myself. That I always give someone the benefit of the doubt. Mostly because I've tried to change it in the past and I haven't been able to.

As an adult, the line between "someone I work next to" and someone who is close has become blurry. It was easier when friends were the people who I sat next to at lunch during the school day.

On top of the relationship itself, in a matter determining who is telling the truth, there is the tenuous nature of memory. Two or three people can see the exact same incident and have completely different recollections of what happened.

In my Psych 101 class, we had a lab exercise about memory. In the middle of the workshop/meeting, a fellow college student (not in the class) came in and banged a stuffed animal on a desk, making wild statements. The lab instructor ignored the outburst. Ten minutes later, he asked us to write down what we remembered, the color of the person's shirt, what kind of animal it was, what was said. It was astounding how different the memories were, not ten minutes later between all of us. So what about recollections in a court of law, a year or ten years later? On the other hand, there are things I remember vividly.

If truth is in the eye of the beholder, what then? It seems to be a circular dilemma to me, without a way out.


Freckle Face Girl said...

Sounds like your own episode of x-files.

Anonymous said...

Thanks FFG! It is like an episode of the x files.