Wednesday, January 28, 2015

One Three Zero: Long Con

There's a question worth considering tonight. Suppose you were standing at a party or a bar and someone fairly attractive and of your preferred gender came over and began speaking to you--- flirting with you. What would do you? Assume you're unattached and there on your own. What would you do?

There are nights where I'd very coldly glare at the person speaking to me and walk away. Not because I wouldn't be interested in flirtation and seduction. It's not that at all. There are nights when, the more attractive the girl was who was speaking to me, the more likely I'd be to snarl at her and walk away.

At some basic tactical level, why would I walk away from someone attractive who might be interested in me, who might laugh and flirt and dance and make out?  The answer is that I'd find the fact that she was approaching me to be...uncanny. Unheimlich.   There are arbitrary social rules and socially-approved courtship norms--- they may be archaic or oppressive or exclusionary, but they do exist, and everyone knows what they are.  I'd have to be suspicious of anyone who violates the arbitrary norms, for better or worse. Why would they do this? And why would they do it around me?  My thought process on some nights would be simple enough: this is out of the ordinary, and that's suspicious. There's always the possibility that something out of the ordinary, something that comes out of nowhere, may be a good thing. Perhaps the person randomly handing you the $100 bill isn't running some kind of con, some kind of scam. Perhaps the attractive person approaching you at a party isn't going to humiliate you in public or isn't setting you up for some cruel joke. But how much trust do you put in the possibility of sincerity and good fortune?

You can ask yourself why they'd do that to you, but the answers are easy enough: boredom plus because-they-can. Because for certain people, random cruelty is its own reward.

And yet we are social animals. You'll remember the experiments where, when given the choice between a cold, wire-framed replica of a mother that provided milk and a warm, soft, cuddly cloth "mother" than gave no milk at all,  infant monkeys bonded with the cloth doll. We need the social interaction and the belief in kindness. We need to think someone might want to bond with us in some way. And so we're...optimistic. And foolishly optimistic at that.

So, then--- how would you answer the question?

What would you do if someone (yes, attractive) began to approach you outside the approved courtship norms? Would you believe in possibilities, or in the likelihood of the long con being played?

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