I think I’ve had an epiphany of sorts – or maybe I was just able to put into a simple, tidy little phrase something I’ve known all of my life, but haven’t quite understood so simply. That is, I love individuals, but I don’t care for groups of people. In fact, I really don’t like groups of people much at all. I may even hate them – mostly. This is why I’ve always said, and with some weird pride, “I’m not a joiner.” I would often then go on to enumerate that which I will not join: I don’t want to be a part of your religion, book club, biker gang, ultimate frisbee team and so on and so on. It is not that I don’t like those in and of themselves, but I do not want to be a part of them. But at the same time, I love the individuals who make them up. Well, not all of them of course, but would give them all the benefit of the doubt, not as the group, but as individuals, in the beginning.
I am definitely suspicious of groups. They are unnerving for a host of very good reasons: They are dangerous; they are often possessed by mob mentality (even in small groups); they are often self-righteous; they allow individuals to be lazy and force others to pick up their slack, they are physically large and can lose control of that physicality, and on and on. Think groupthink. That is not to say that I am some sort of whacked-out every man for himself libertarian, or rugged individualist (whatever that means) as I’m really not all that rugged and I do love those I love dearly – my family, my close friends and co-workers – and I love to be around them. I even understand the need for and desire to help one another as individuals and even as a society (big group, that one).
But still I chafe at the little trappings of groups; god save me if I have to dress like a group of people beyond whatever I would normally choose for myself; scheduled and regular meetings I am certain each knock a good 20 minutes (beyond the wasted time of the meeting itself) off the end of my life; I can feel my ultimate demise inching toward me each time I am forced into a group experience not of my choosing. Little bits of me die within.
And I wonder even at the logistics of it all! How on god’s green earth do people round up large groups for biking, or ultimate frisbee, or to re-enact some bygone battle with muskets and period outfits(!) for that matter? That is a great mystery to me, but then again I am imagining 45 me’s at the end of the phone line receiving the invite: “Hey, wanna come out and meet a bunch of us at…” Nope.
But let me say again, I’m not anti-people – just anti-bunches-of-people. I’m also averse to concerts, sporting events, bullfights – wherever great hoards of humanity pile into a confined space. One could be crushed! I love the idea of Woodstock, but would have blown my head off to have had to be there for more than 15 or so minutes – even clean and sober; add some acid or mushrooms or even whatever weed they were smoking back then to that experience and I might have simply physically honestly exploded into individual atoms rather suddenly, simply ceasing to exist entirely.
People who know me gave up long ago inviting me to join anything. And I don’t think they love me less for it. I think they, as individuals, accept that. As a group, they could turn up at my door in the middle of the night with pitchforks and torches and stakes and demands of my skills for ultimate frisbee every other Thursday down at Como Park – rain or shine! What a nightmare!