Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sociopaths and Me

Okay, so I know that 'advertises for massage on Craigslist' is code for 'freelance hooker.' That's why I don't advertise on Craigslist. I have still had more than one client who expected, and requested, a hand job; those clients get sent home with a flea in their ear. Usually I can prescreen male prospective clients over the telephone by the simple expedient of asking why they want a massage. If they say, "My back just went out, and my wife recommended you," they get an appointment. If they say, "oh, I just want to relax..." I'm booked up until the year 2020.

But the 'Craigslist killer' still could have gotten me. It is a measure of my extreme naivete that the first thing I thought was, "why would anybody try to rob a massage therapist? We're not known for carrying large sums of cash."

Actually, that was my second thought. My first thought was, "Oh, a pervert who rapes vulnerable self-employed women in hotel rooms and kills them afterward."

What a checkered life I've led.

I don't want to presume a person is guilty until it's been proven. Thus, it's difficult to comment on the interviews with all of the accused's 'friends', who say what a nice guy he is, how he smiles all the time and always says hello. But it struck me that nobody yet has mentioned any concrete good of the guy. Nobody tells the story of working side by side with him at Habitat for Humanity, or recounts how he let them crash at his place for three months when they got laid off, or helped them move at the drop of a hat, or set their broken bone for free.

No, it was all superficial. He smiled, he said hello, he went to parties and asked how you were doing. It struck me that none of the persons interviewed knew him any more deeply than that, and how it hadn't seemed to occur to them that there was any more depth than that.

Two things: one, that many or most sociopaths come across as 'really nice guys.' Sociopaths are expert manipulators. They smile, they say hello, they ask how you are. Why are more people not aware of this?

Two, that our social habits, as a society, don't encourage deep engagement with one another. To the point that most people don't even know what deep engagement is, let alone notice the lack of it.