I poke and I prod the oblivious around me. I want to see what makes them tick. I want to see what makes them happy and what makes them sad. I am eager to learn why people work the way they work for many reasons. In addition, I seek out situations that would invoke empathy or strong emotion in others to see how it would resonate with me. I am constantly trying to learn, for my own introspection and for the advantage gained by understanding how others operate.
Sometimes I will intentionally remove my mask and make a very nonchalant remark about an objectively unfortunate event. I want to see how others around me react. I want to see whether they are shocked or relate any emotion related to the event I’m being indifferent to. I want to see how they are functionally different. It amazes me how emotionally invested people can be in events that have no bearing to them. This is an aspect of emotional empathy that I will never understand; to me it is completely illogical.
Along those lines, it is often too easy to forget the ways in which I am different than the vast majority of society. These ‘experiments’ also serve as a reminder in case I become complacent. It is not necessarily celebrating difference, per se, but rather refreshing myself on how I need to mask and why. The looks of horror when I casually, and without emotion, describe some deleterious act that I must do, such as taking a pet to be euthanized, or have witnessed, such as seeing, firsthand, dead homeless people on the streets of a city I’ve visited tell me volumes of the condition of others. I need these perspectives in order to see that I’m different and in order to better understand how to manipulate others.
These experiments need not revolve around the macabre however. Feigning empathy or giving praise to others whom I could care less about is also enlightening. Yes, I love anything that fuels my ego, but I realize that it is at a different level than most. Seeing how positive rewards affect others puts more tools in my toolbox for manipulation. People are no different than domesticated animals: the slightest praise erases so much damage that it is comical. Rather than petting them, yielding a few choice words can get them to bow to your will and to forgive any past transgressions. It’s adorable.
I will often put myself in what would be difficult situations for others to see how I react. I remember when my childhood cat was dying. I watched him nearly drown trying to drink water as he did not have the strength to lift his head. I watched as the decrepit fleshbag walked with such labor from water bowl to bed and back. He was dying before my eyes. Yet, I felt nothing. I sat intently for hours watching the dying animal’s movement hoping to gain some insight into the way my mind functioned. He and I spent many years together and I was as fond of him as I was anyone. However, in the end it did not matter. He was no longer a cat but a grotesque mass of writhing pain. I simply could not feel anything about the situation. No sorrow, no wish to end his life sooner to end his pain – nothing. This spoke volumes. Just as I could not get worked up over a dead grandparent, I could not get worked up over him either. Sometimes I forget my callousness and sometimes I need to be reminded.
And so I will continue to perform such experiments. I want to learn what positive and negative actions can do to another’s weaker mind. I want to know how non-sociopaths tick. I want to learn how I function. Like choosing the right strings for an instrument, the right pokes and prods can lead to wonderfully haunting music.