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The Trouble with Binary

·325 words·2 mins
Communication Relationships

“My child, I can live on a good compliment two weeks with nothing else to eat.”

-Mark Twain


The other night my husband told me that one thing that set me apart from other people when we first met was that I simply didn’t do bullshit. I was nuanced, sure, and always tactful, but I was very straightforward and direct.

“Aww,” I said, touched. “But if that’s true, then why would people have called me a ‘coward’ or a ‘liar’?”

“It’s because they don’t understand nuance,” he replied.

I considered what he said and realized he was right when I thought about the handful of people who had made such assertions — Michelle, Hilda, Crock, and GC. They were all inflexible in their thought patterns, committed all-or-nothing fallacies, practiced splitting and projection as chief psychological defenses.

I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

They jumped to conclusions as a matter of course. I found myself often thinking, “Woah, well, I don’t know about that,” when they’d go on rants against someone else. I’d try to find tactful ways to signal this, but they mostly steamrolled over it or read agreement in the qualification.

They couldn’t or didn’t want to understand me. And no amount of intention and care I put into that communication would make them see those shades of grey.

It didn’t help that they were not comfortable with ever being wrong – and that’s an impossible, indefensible position. Because all of us will be wrong sometimes. And sometimes we’re really wrong about something huge. For me, it’s kind of freeing to accept this… I don’t worry I’m going to make some big mistake. I just accept ahead of time that I’ll be well equipped to deal with the inevitable when it happens, and then I can’t be bothered to fret.

Anyway, it was a really nice compliment, and I’m set for the next fortnight.


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