Another thing people love to be seen as is a philosopher. I don't know why. Philosophers are awful. At least the kind they're trying to play.
This is a character who supposedly looks at his cup of coffee in the morning and it causes him to think about how we all got here, or Plato's Allegory of the Cave, or something. Every fucking thing in life allegedly triggers some deep exploration of one of the issues that is covered in a freshman philosophy class.
Waiting for the train? Determinism. Cat peed on your bed? The problem of evil. Someone drank all the milk and put the carton back in the fridge? Consequentialism. Maybe euthanasia.
And this makes me think about censorship.
The Philosopher constantly starts discussions of far-fetched hypothetical ethical situations (if you had to pull a switch and a train would run over either an old woman with cancer or a young girl with cystic fibrosis) and retarded, abstract pie-in-the-sky discussions (which quantum mechanics particles God would be made out of if God existed and was female).
Some people are genuinely interested in these stupid questions, which is fine. I think it's a waste of time, but me playing computer games is a waste of time, too, so who's to judge? The Philosopher character, though, doesn't really care that much about these questions. He or she cares about looking like a person who cares about these questions.
You can tell from a number of things, like the fact that they often use big words when simpler ones will do, and the fact that they barely know how to use them, like a high school student writing a college application essay and attempting to use SAT words they'd just been given two months ago.
These words are usually sprinkled into clumsy phrases like "It gives me cause to ponder" or around grown-up sounding phrases like "due to" and "in lieu of."
Another selection in the "let's pretend" cast of characters is the Insider -- the person who has "connections" in the "biz." One of the most common bizzes they pretend to be in on is the movie industry, although politics is a popular one, too.
Usually Insiders do not really have the balls to straight out lie and say they work in Hollywood, because that leads to specifics -- "What studio do you work at?" or "If you've really blown Tom Cruise, what is the birthmark on his left testicle shaped like?" -- and they know they're going to get tripped up sooner or later.
Instead, they just adopt the language of a Hollywood insider, including many of the stupid slang terms used in industry rag Variety, like "prexy" for "president" or "sesh" for "session," because busy Hollywood types don't have time for wasteful syllables.
I couldn't even tell if this was positive or negative at first.
Or maybe they adopt the habits of another well-known insider source like Ain't It Cool News and the way they capitalize movie titles. Or both. Then they just write like they're slightly drunk and breathless, as if they just came back from a post-premiere cocktail party and they're good as gold.
They'll also conspicuously avoid giving sources for anything they say -- not just for opinions, but for obvious facts like release dates, where normal people would provide a link to the article they just read. If an Insider just read a press release saying Madagascar 3 opens on June 8, 2012, they'll say, "Word on the street is that DreamWorks' MADAGASCAR 3 hits theaters June 8!"
As if they just heard this from their good friend Ben Stiller after he wrapped up a recording sesh.
On the political side, you get a lot of "People are saying" and "I've heard" with no link to the article they clearly heard it from. "I've heard the Obama administration is about to release some numbers," where they're trying to make it sound like they heard it hot off their informants in the political grapevine and not off CNN.
#1. Master Manipulator
One of the worst things about the popularity of NLP, the pickup artist community and hypnotist shows is that they have stupid, socially inept people convinced that they are puppet masters.
These are people who are terrible at getting people to do things the normal way -- by maintaining a good relationship with them and having enough emotional awareness to know when it's appropriate to ask for things -- so they get excited at the thought that they can get people to do things by sitting in a certain posture or tracking eye movements or whatever.
"You are now my slave!"
On the Internet, people also try to pass themselves off as "manipulators." Some people do it deliberately after having messed up and taken a lot of flak, finding a safe cover story in "It was all a social experiment! Got you all!"
"Haha, I was testing you!" they might say. "I wanted to see how you might react to someone saying Jews weren't people! You all passed, brilliantly! I couldn't be more pleased with how my experiment turned out!"
But some people actually believe their own story about how they are good at manipulating others, which involves a lot of seeing what other people do and then inventing a reason why that's what you wanted them to do the whole time. It's a lot easier to fool yourself on the Internet, where usually the worst that can happen (if you're careful about your privacy) is some negative words, which you can convince yourself you were totally "trolling" for. It's harder to convince yourself you really wanted certain kinds of real-life consequences, like a kick in the balls.
"Haha! You ... played right ... into my hands. Oh God. Call a doctor."
I can understand why a person who doesn't have a lot of control in their daily life would be sorely tempted by the chance to pretend they are a wizard or puppet master among strangers. Unfortunately, you have a better chance of opening an old book and getting sucked into a fantasy world where you can find a luckdragon you can bring back with you to scare off the kids who were bullying you than of being able to actually manipulate the bullies, or anyone else, using psychology. (Exception: parents. Parents can manipulate their own children pretty damn well.)
So that's my advice to everyone who wants so hard to be someone they're not: Get off the Internet and start flipping through every antique book you can find. Hurry! Before someone else finds it!
For more from Christina, check out 6 Double Standards We're All Guilty Of and 5 Examples of Americans Thinking Foreign People Are Magic.