Socrates & Cussing

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Chapter Three

[In which I get cussed out again, this time because I won’t give my phone number to a stranger]

~ One of the inevitable consequences of hanging out at the same coffee shops all the time is that you end up meeting people, a lot of people. This can be both good and bad. Since humans are decidedly social creatures, meeting new people is an important component of being human.

One day as I was sitting at coffee engrossed in a particular philosophy book I was working through, a mid-thirties woman sitting next to me started up a conversation, “Hey what are you reading?” she asked, at coffee shops “hey what are you reading” is one of the most popular discussion starters among strangers.

The two of us chatted for a bit about ethics (which is what the book I was reading was about) and then upon a friend of mine sitting down at my table, the three of us ended up having a long conversation about what it means to live ethically, and how this is different than the subject of morals.

I noticed the time was slipping away and I politely stood up and excused myself from the table with a ‘farewell’. The woman smiled appreciatively and expressed her thanks in meeting me, and asked if we could become “Facebook friends”,

I’m sorry, I don’t have a Facebook, I used to have one, but I gave it up a year ago, along with Twitter, Tumblr and all the rest. I’m just not into social networking” I said

Well, could we exchange emails then? I’ve had such a great time talking with you and your friend, I would love to sit down with the two of you again” she said

Perhaps my friend is interested in give you his contact” I nodded my head toward him, “But I don’t give my phone number or email out to anyone. I simply meet too many people to do so” I said

My response seemed to perplex her, and a shriek of anger crossed over her, “What the f**K! Who the hell do you think you are! You won’t even take my email?!”

I’m sorry, but no. I could have taken it and thrown it away when I walked out the door, but I decided to just be honest and tell you the truth; I don’t exchange personal information with people at coffee anymore. I did years ago, but I haven’t in a long time. However, I hang out at this coffee shop quite a bit, and you’re always welcome to sit at my table whenever I’m here” I said

And how is that ETHICAL?” she continued, “We just sat here for an hour discussing ethics and now you’ve refused to take my email address!” she said

Well, the ethical issue is me being an adult and the type of individual rights I have to my own personhood. You see, I have made personal choices that I live by, and in order for me to live by them, I must make decisions regardless of my feelings. You see, I did enjoy our conversation, and that involved feelings; i.e. the feeling of camaraderie with a fellow human, the feeling of mental stimulation with regard to the topics we discussed, and more. Now what would happen if I allowed everyone I meet at coffee to have my personal information and be able to contact me, simply because I “felt” like doing so? Well, the consequence I suffered a few years ago was receiving an onslaught of phone calls and emails from so many people that it became too overwhelming for me. We can only extend ourselves so much before it can push us to our emotional limits” I said

People in Western Culture tend to only look at things through a self-centered lens. Some of these people we call drama queens, others we call overly-emotional, or selfish. The label we use is less important than the concept; people feel a sense of entitlement over others.

Living an ethical life means that we do not allow others to control us. It means we must set the limits of our friendships, relationships, and interactions with other people based on our personal ethical standards. To allow other people to use us, or to allow them to dictate what we must do is simply unethical.



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10 replies

  1. Ha! I’m so sorry you got cussed out, but this chapter made me laugh. Been there and done that.
    “I’m impressed with your ethical setting of boundaries and your self care,” said absolutely no one ever. 😉

  2. Love your writing! You get cussed out a lot! 😆

  3. Ah there you go, humans and our entitlement. Why did I expect her to explode? Seems everyone explodes when you refuse to give personal information– “Who do you think you are?”
    Lol a human with a right to set my own boundaries, and one who expects you to respect them.

    Good read, Kenneth 🙂

  4. My last “poem” brought up one I wrote about slicing up ape brains. Such a silly post defending scientific ethics. Now we have to fight for planned parenthood to get continued funding because “others” think they are unethical. I think that individuals must practice their private ethics and not bully others for disagreeing. Fun to read you this morning. Happy Holidays

  5. So sorry Kenneth… it’s so sad that people can be so unreasonable about boundaries. I’ve done that too, where I got too close in “feelings” to my readers and wrote back in forth with one woman in email, only to have her actually lie about what I said and twist our topic to fit a very bad narrative she was spreading about me to other people in the blogging community we both blog in. She managed to ruin my reputation to a few others, and because she’s blogged for years longer than I have, her words were powerful and very believable – I came out looking like some crazy person!

    It was a massive betrayal of trust and ethics of course, and I feel so stupid for trusting a perfect stranger, but when people comment on your blog for a year+, seem kind and honest in all their comments, it’s hard to keep a firm boundary up in how much you’re willing to communicate your personal thoughts. I just trusted way too easily, and boy did I get burned!

    It’s so good to have boundaries, it keeps us from getting into situations like this where we can get hurt or have unnecessary drama in our lives. You’re smart to tell it honestly. Even if you had taken her email and never contacted her, she still probably would have hounded you for why you were blowing her off, and there’s no guarantee that you would have avoided a nasty confrontation like what happened.

  6. She just exhibited one of the exact reasons for not giving out your personal information! I’m sure she couldn’t see that about herself. Yes, people certainly have a sense of entitlement, don’t they? And i perfectly agree about good self care and not allowing others to trample us. That can be a lifetime in the learning, but most, sadly, never even begin, and talking to them about this is like talking to a wall. They just don’t get it.

  7. Your story reminded me of the saying, “No person is an island.”

    She got upset, by doing so you’ve felt that she proved a premise of yours about society. Your analysis of whether she could understand what you belief to be a violation of some sort of societal rules (perhaps ethics? Although, you may have some different definition you’ve concocted in comparison to Webster) is cold and lacks compassion.

    It’s true that Emotion and feelings have been running amuck. However, those attributions give the world life, they give the world culture. Rationalism is by this manner is extinction. A philosophy that led to the ‘wisdom’ of materialism.

    Instead of asking what’s wrong with the world as it seems adverse to your perception. You may want to ask what’s wrong with my philosophy? You admire the rationalists, “I think, therefore I am.” However, it’s just as likely that “You are, therefore you think.”

    Of course, perhaps it’s impossible for you to understand that it’s your existence that defines your thoughts rather than the reverse.

  8. To stand by your own choices is the hardest to do.

    But what happened with chapter two?

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