A wise piece of general internet etiquette reads: “Do not feed the trolls.” One would do well to remember this…
… but what of the petty, manipulative people you meet in your everyday existence? What of the pathological liars, the drama queens, the shifty gossips, and the parasitic leeches who pass themselves off as salesmen?
I do not know the solution – how they may somehow help themselves – but I can say with absolute authority on this matter, to those affected by manipulative people: get them out of your life.
I was looking for a way to segue into an exposition on predatory sales and marketing tactics after reading What I Learned Buying a Rug in Turkey (still working on Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior – a book which categorizes emotional loopholes which rob people of rational thinking).
So, to preface the following, I present the lessons from the Turkish Rug Merchant (these guidelines are textbook-grade material for the manipulatively-minded):
- Reciprocation: we try to repay what another person has provided us
- Commitment and consistency: we desire to be consistent with what we have already done
- Social proof: we tend to rely on what other people are doing to determine our own actions
- Liking: we tend to go along with and follow people we like
- Authority: we feel a sense of duty to follow someone who has authority
- Scarcity: opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited
- What I Learned Buying a Rug in Turkey
by Mitchell Weisburgh
Now, to the grist of the post…
Protecting the Guilty: The following text message conversation is provided with one omission. A name has been removed. If you were a party to this conversation, you can rest assured that no one else knows exactly who you are.
… but the clever ones may very well make educated guesses.
Background: Unnamed works in sales. (Or did, last time I checked)
Unnamed has been romantically involved with several people with whom I have had long acquaintance. For my part, I tried to be tolerant. I have had multiple discussions with those of my acquaintance regarding the negative influence Unnamed had upon their lives, especially following Unnamed‘s “desperate cry for help”.
The event in question happened loudly, aggressively, and in perfect synchronization with Unnamed‘s then-ex-boyfriend’s attempts at dating others. Apparently, Unnamed wanted him for her company still.
Unnamed‘s ploy effectively brought her then-ex-boyfriend back to her side… it was clever enough, but we all know that one who truly intends to die does not call others to say “I’m going to kill myself now” before unleashing razors and pills.
Unnamed has gone on to interfere in my own romantic relationships, when she decided she would be “best friends” with my girlfriend at the time. The sheer volume of “let’s be friends” messages and calls seemed disproportionate, given that Unnamed had never spent much time getting to know her.
I knew this was coming sooner or later, I just did not expect it to be so virulent…
A Hard-Selling Ophelia versus The Operator
Who are you and what is needed?
I an Unnamed and i an broken. Not that zak Would acre. But i need Help. Where do i find it?
Nothing happened. I just can’t Help me stop me from me. Not that that makes any sense
If you need an ambulance I can call one for you, but I will need your address first.
I hope you’re not bleeding all over someone’s carpet.
I don’t need an ambulance. I need mental help not physical.
Sometimes you need an ambulance for those, too. I know I have been for a few rides.
I have too. I don’t need an ambulance. I just need support. Which is why you are the wrong person to have asked
So… why did you start text messaging me during work hours on a Friday? The “Help me” message is the first I have heard from Unnamed in months.
Yup. I cannot claim perfection, but I will claim to know that you are the only person who can fix you. Maybe you just needed to hear that?
This is advice I would give to anyone who had attempted suicide. In the case of other would-be dead people, I have never had to – most are embarrassed to burden others with such foolishness.
Read ‘If you Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!’ by Sheldon B Kopp
Sure! How many Times have we heard that? What difference Does it make. Really?
Why all of this capitalization… is it for emphasis?
The difference between being in control and being helpless for life. The weak endure what they must, the strong do what they can.
Help. You are the only one as crazy as me.
Everyone is crazy in a different way. When you say ‘Help’ is there something in particular that you expect?
I don’t expect anything. I WANT.
What do you want?
Saw that coming a mile away.
I want Help. I need to be put back into one person. I am shattered and try as I might- i can’t fix me
Hello? Why Did x
I know you think I am somehow part of your little equation, but I am not. You have imposed unforgivably. Lose my phone number and seek professional help.
What is your problem? You have looked to me for Help enough Times in the past.
What is your problem? You have looked to me for Help enough Times in the past.
A lie. How novel.
Reciprocation: we try to repay what another person has provided us
So i think you are one of the few people that Can understand my derangements.
I am right- as you are as broken as me. We have shared Times that you block from your memory. But don’t for one second judge me
I must have forgotten? No, I recall that you started lying a moment ago.
I don’t want anything. I need Help. And I’m scared.
From “WANT” to “don’t want anything”… oh, now it’s about your needs? Clever girl.
Commitment and consistency: we desire to be consistent with what we have already done
I agreed to help already – or did I? What is this Capital-”H” “Help” (as opposed to regular “help”?)
Zak. I’m Sorry. I’m So scared. Everything is closing in around me and i don’t know What to do! You do?
I have Nothing to loose i texting you. You used to be one of my most valued friends. Now you are a figment of my imagination. Wit happened?
Valued friends? Another lie, but it still counts toward:
Social proof: we tend to rely on what other people are doing to determine our own actions
She is asking a friend for Capital-”H” “Help”? I’m having some difficulty reconciling all of these inconsistencies with reality.
I want Help. I want someone Who understands me.
Liking: we tend to go along with and follow people we like
… or those who feign liking us.
Life lesson number one: No one cares about what you want. Now, if you will excuse me, I am changing my phone number.
Go for it. no one cares about you either.
Flattery didn’t get you where you wanted it to, eh?
No one who matters, anyway.
Okay, I fed a troll.
No one period. people try for you zak, you just never try back. And people abandon you for it. Look at you life. What do you have to show? Nothing. Like me.
Scarcity: opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited
In this case, false scarcity. Sadly, people like Unnamed are a dime a dozen…
… though few match raw, unbridled manipulative intent.
Unnamed is a reasonably attractive woman (though, borrowing from Frank Zappa, “What’s the ugliest part of your body?“).
Her “damsel in distress” ambush would work on most any male who did not have some concept of her past exploits and the damage she has wrought in others’ lives… and she knows this. This act was her trump card.
Unnamed and those like her are gangrenous limbs: they must be amputated from society before they infect others.
Deal with the manipulative people in your life. Dispense with the bad blood in your family, the ones who use their filial ties as part of a guilt trip. Create as much physical space as possible (you know, before the Earth’s curvature works to your disadvantage and you start getting closer again). Leave no forwarding address. Change your phone number. I know I will.
Any manipulator who has his or her act together has a good shot at politics, and it is likely that people whose moral compass is skewed in the way Unnamed demonstrates are already running this show.
Manipulative people have taken the time and effort to learn how to deal with those around them. Learn to recognize manipulation and defend yourself.