Is is good to be cynical?
See that puzzled look on that face? That’s exactly how I feel about this question
The word has two meanings:
|cynical: adj: disapproving
1. believing that people are only interested in themselves and are not sincere.
2. describes a tendency to use someone’s feelings or emotions to your own advantage.
Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
For the purpose of this post, I’m sticking with the first meaning of being skeptical of the motives of others.
The older we grow and the more we interact with people, the more we seem to meet up with people who are insincere or take you for granted. For example:
1. The ‘friend’ who borrowed a largish sum of money from you to buy a car. Then goes on to buy a house and establish herself with no sign of returning your money. When asked for the money, saying that she now seems to be quite well off, she turns on you with a ‘Oh, you’re just jealous of my good fortune.” Phew!
2. The ex-colleague who calls only when she needed a favor. She prefaces her request with some inane niceties. After about five such calls, you ask her, “What do you want now?” She’s ‘offended’ and then goes on to ask for a favor anyway!
3. ‘Friend’ A who keeps conveying all the nasty things ‘Friend’ B says about you, as well as all the stuff she does to him. Suddenly, ‘Friend’ A stops taking your calls for no reason – instead you get long, convoluted SMS messages from him explain his busyness (doesn’t it take longer to text?). A month later, you learn that ‘Friend’ A is setting off for a holiday to visit Friend ‘B’ and that’s the reason he was avoiding you! Phew, again!!
These experiences and many such others, make you a bit distrustful of people’s motives.
Cynicism, while not being a classic defense mechanism, is a means by which we protect ourselves from getting hurt. We don’t want to face a similar situation or person, so the moment we meet someone whose behavior (or looks even) reminds us of the person who hurt us or took advantage of us, we avoid them.
If we get cynical to avoid getting hurt ….what’s wrong with that?
I asked José and a friend if it was a good idea to be cynical. They both said it was, because not being aware of the motives of other people would be too naive…..Hmmmm…..
My confusion about whether cynicism is good or bad stems from the fact that I’m afraid that if I get cynical, I’ll lose out on a lot of my personality. By nature, I’m open and trusting of people. I easily warm up to people and vice-versa. So if I get cynical, I would, in a sense, be changing who I am. …Do I want to be defined by the behavior of others?
More on this topic in Part 2 of this post.
May you be inspired – everyday!