"More of me comes out when I improvise." - Edward Hopper
Having gone to the beach for the weekend, I thought the 6 combined hours of sitting in a car would make for an excellent opportunity to catch up on a couple episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour (and then be bored for the other four and a half hours in which I did not have another episode).
One of the people on said podcast was talking about how excited he was about Kung-fu Panda 2, and I'd seen on his Twitter feed a few days before that he apparently cried more than once during the movie. I love this for a couple of reasons.
1. This is a grown man who is legitimately excited about Kung-fu Panda, unrelated to the fact that his kids probably also wanted to see it.
2. This is a grown man who is willing to admit that not only did he cry, but that he cried during an animated movie.
I don't particularly care whether you're a person given to crying. Some are, and some aren't, and that's fine. However, it makes me very happy when people (especially guys over the age of 13) admit that they have/do, regardless of how frequently. So yay for Stephen Thompson.
There's this weird cultural thing going on where crying is associated with weakness, and fragility, and irrationality, and a lack of masculinity. Which implies that a) emotions are bad, and b) emotions are not a manly thing to have. Both of which are absolutely ridiculous.
That being said, strong emotions certainly can and do have negative side-effects. They can cloud your judgement, consume your mind, and utterly destroy your ability to empathize.
And that's what I think it is: the temporary loss of empathy. It's not that you're being irrational, strictly speaking. You've just undergone a significant shift in priorities that says "I do not freaking care what's going on in your head. I'm not even going to try to see things from your point of view, because what I'm feeling is far more important."
It's just an evolutionary thing-- emotions are there for a reason, and our reactions to them are there for a reason too. We "irrationally" hate that which causes us pain, and we get "irrationally" upset when something we value is taken away. The hate drives us to get as far away from the pain-causer as possible, and the loss we feel drives us to replace the stolen thing- or steal it back.
Once the strong emotions subside, empathy returns, along with our "rational" mind. (Hold on...there's more to the world than just Me?) The trick is to be able to recognize what's going on, and to keep from acting on it until it's passed.
It's not a weakness to be sad, and it's not wrong to have powerful reactions sweep you off your feet. What is a weakness is to not be able to cope with it in constructive ways. Emotion is probably both the best and worst part of being human. It's perfectly natural, though, and I think that if more people really believed/accepted/understood that, there'd be less hard feelings across the board.
So I apologize for any and all past and future cases in which I have failed to empathize with any of you. I don't condemn myself for it, since I do believe that it (in the type of situation discussed above) is an unavoidable part of life, but all people deserve the respect of being viewed as a fellow person trying to make his or her way in the world.
And because I am a massive nerd, I am now deciding that it shall be my new goal to remember that we all wear the same figurative bow tie, which is cool. Because bow ties are, and always will be.