Patrick's behavior is often cynical, pessimistic, depressive, often mean-spirited, and caustic. When he behaves this way, I can't stand to be in his presence. He mocks others, he mocks me, he mocks himself -- and not just friendly ribbing, mind you, but mean remarks, that are unworthy of anybody.
He's not a bad person, by any stretch. In fact, he's quite a good person, on both a personal level, helping out people in need, and in terms of working to better his community (he's very active in the writing community around here and organizes a lot of events) and generally make the world a better place. But he still has this nasty streak, which I can't tell if he realizes is nasty, or if he thinks "is all in fun." Patrick's idea of fun is computer games that involve inflicting pain as viciously as possible. His idea of the perfect game would probably involve torturing the Care Bears to death or something. As if that joke hasn't been run into the ground in the past ten years and just plain gotten old, geeze Louise!
Of course, if I commented on it, he'd just respond with a caustic comment. "Must be why nobody likes me," or some such thing. My instinctive response is to say, "Of course people like you! I like you myself, when you aren't acting this way." But I've responded that way time and again to his self-deprecation, to no avail. One of these times, I'm going to get fed up and respond with, "Yeah, maybe you're right."
Which of course will just feed the negative self-image he has which causes this poisonous behavior, and reinforce the cycle. It doesn't seem to matter how many positive comments, friendly gestures, and goodwill I extend toward him; all he seems to see is bad things about himself and the world around him.
I suppose I should just resign myself to the fact that he's like that and avoid him. I don't want to write him off -- I really wish I could somehow get him to lighten up a bit instead. Being pleasant doesn't have to mean being bland ... being nice doesn't have to mean being saccharine ... being optimistic doesn't have to mean being patronizing or stupid. I like to think of myself as a fairly charming, intelligent, and witty guy, but I try to never be nasty, rude, mean, or coarse, and I've reached the point where I have little patience for those who are.
What I would prescribe for this guy, if I thought he would listen to me and not just mock what I had to say, would be a six month abstinence on anything mean. He would neither engage in, nor remain in the presence of people who were:
- Bitching about stuff
- Engaging in nasty gossip, whether accurate or not
- Laughing at somebody in real pain
- Play any games where death, particularly gruesome death, is played for laughs
- Holding grudges against people
- Watching TV shows where cruelty or bathroom humor is the primary purpose (e.g., South Park)
To fill the immense void that this would premusably leave in his life, he would instead:
- Listen to beautiful music
- Read authors such as P.G. Wodehouse
- Play games where puzzle-solving and character interaction are vital to moving the plot forward -- I would particularly recommend things like Escape From Monkey Island, which has an edge, but isn't vicious
- Say only good things about anybody, including himself -- even when asked a direct question, like "Isn't your boss a butthead?" (To this, he would respond with something like, "We don't see eye to eye on some things, maybe, but I don't think it's appropriate to call him names.")
I pick six months, because if it's a shorter amount of time, he would just lapse back into his previous habits. It takes at least that long for somebody to make a real change in their behavior, if the change is going to happen. And if it isn't going to happen, well, then his true core personality is just a nasty, bitter jerk, and I've got no reason to waste any more attention on him.
Alas, there isn't any way to tell him this without his personality deflector shields going up, and it's not really my place to go around telling people how to live their lives anyway. It just irritates me to be around somebody who is so close to being someone I'd really like to have as a close friend, only to suddenly have them walk all up and down my spine with a vicious offhand comment.
Oh well. Life is what it is, not what I would wish it to be. Patrick probably thinks I'm a smarmy goodie-goodie anyhow. :P
-The Gneech, smarmy goodie-goodie