See, that's the thing about The Zone. That sense of ease always ends, and when it does, chances are you're going to feel clumsier than ever, because now you're comparing your general awkwardness to that time when you weren't that bumbling dork. Still, there's a lesson to be learned there, and shockingly, it isn't "Screw all people, I'll be in my pillow fort." It's this: "Holy shit, I can do this, at least sometimes." For the more socially awkward of us, that little meal can go a long, long way ... but not if you let that social crash dictate your perspective. You have to expect it, and knowing how to deal with it is the difference between growing as a person and building a lair in the nearest volcano.
Figure Out the Point of Controlled Unpleasantness
Todd Wright/Blend Images/Getty Images
There is a mode of social interaction that is rarely discussed but commonly observed in everyday life both on- and offline. I call it the "point of controlled unpleasantness," and it manifests as such:
Let's say I pop out to buy some milk, which for the purposes of this analogy we'll pretend is totally not whiskey at all. At the cashier line, a haughty, middle-aged suit starts inexplicably eyeballing me and harrumphing at my decision to buy a crate of milk at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, while still strongly emitting the whiff of the previous night's milk. Riddled with a calcium headache and feeling impatient, my first instinct is to arrange an impromptu softball match with my fellow customers, using the complainer as a bat and his briefcase as a ball. However, I choose the high road and refrain from throwing abuse at his face, and his face at his briefcase. I walk away with my milk and gleefully drink myself to oblivion, forgetting that fuckface far sooner than if I'd gone with my first instinct and had to deal with the whole high-speed chase with the cops that would inevitably have ensued. All is well.
Have you ever done the above thing, where you shockingly don't go ballistic on a fucker that you thought clearly deserved it? Do you think you can regularly do that? Congratulations! You have mastered controlled unpleasantness. I'm not being sarcastic; it really is pretty awesome, but surprisingly difficult to pull off. Because despite the fact that my name for it includes the word "unpleasant," it is by no means a negative thing. On the contrary, it's just a more honest name for the eye-roll-inducing word "civility." The point of controlled unpleasantness is realizing that you can never be civil to everyone 100 percent of the time, so you figure out the way to be the least uncivil instead. You can still snark, passive-aggressive, and cold-shoulder at your fellow men just as you want, but chances are you'll soon figure out that it's far, far better for your own well-being to learn the proper time and place.
Now, we just need to learn to do that online.
Pauli is a Cracked freelance editor and weekly columnist. Join his gang on Facebook and Twitter.
For more from Pauli, check out 5 Animals That Survived Shit That Would Kill a Terminator and 5 Disastrous Ways People Tried to Make Porn a Reality.
Are you on reddit? Check it: We are too! Click on over to our best of Cracked subreddit.