Don’t go pricking my balloon
@ayjay asked on twitter the other day why people are possessed by the urge to pop another’s balloon. A: “The weather is nice today.” B: “Well you should have seen it last year. Record highs!” A: “My dad is a great guy.” B: “Don’t forget when he was a royal pain in the patoot that one time.” I won’t pretend to be able to unpack the whole impulse, but here is part of an explanation.
It is interesting to me that few possess this urge when it comes to children. Most love for their children to believe in Santa Claus (there are people who act to the contrary, and they are generally regarded as cruel).
One guess: once a child becomes old enough to become truly blameworthy (meaning, to be able to do something wrong in such a way that says something about his or her life-long character) , that child is no longer fit to enjoy Santa Claus.
Nor should that child be able to entertain other unvarnished ideals. The child is culpable for his or her part in this whole mess, and shouldn’t pretend otherwise (and to enjoy Santa would be to pretend otherwise).
So maybe the urge to remind someone of something that is wrong has much todo with wanting him or her to share in the misery of the human condition, for which he or she shares part of the blame.
The idea isn’t so much for the person to come to appreciate the problem that is pointed out - it is to prevent him or her from deriving more share than she should in this train wreck of a world.
I think that this helps to explain the aggressive nature of the balloon-pricking - there is the insinuation that the naive person is somehow at fault - a reaching out to pop the other person’s bubble.
So maybe this will help me to speak more “naively” about good things - the pricks aren’t a sign of intelligence, but out of a strange understanding about the way the world works.