There is nothing amiss in being selective and choosy when we are to befriend others. As homo domesticus, man needs social connections and links. Making social connections is intrinsic to all Homo sapiens. But while knitting them, one must be wary. One should be able to differentiate between the ethically dross and ethically good people. One must tell the shallow and toxic people from the deep and non-toxic ones. Failing to do so, one may become fodder for social insult and disgrace.
Defining the shallow and the toxic people
Who are these shallow and toxic people? What are the subtle marks that define them? Are they gender specific? Are they community specific? To answer these questions, I must tell you in the first place that they are very elusive and subtle in their characteristics. Understanding them is a very arduous endeavor. But once we live with them for some time, we come to know who they are behind the façade. Behind the veneer of veneration and virtue, they are donning the obnoxious persona; the persona that is out to victimize others not physically but socially and psychologically. To answer the third question, I must tell you that such people are not gender specific. They are found in males, females, and third-gender as well. Besides this, such people are present in all communities. They are not specific to any community etc.
Some marked features of such people
They are the people who always try to assassinate and slander the character of those who have made some successful strides in their lives through hard work and perseverance. They are the people who always try to demean others through fabricated and concocted narratives. They are the people who abruptly make negative judgments about the character of others. They are the people who harbor a hidden ill-will against others. They are the people who are wont to comment negatively on the character and attitude of others without having any substantial proof at their disposal. Besides the above-enumerated characteristics, such people are self-obsessed; they are quite mistaken about their abilities and virtues. In addition to this, arrogance, insolence, quarrelsome nature, moral pettiness, backbiting, jealousy, and social impertinence are some other explicit epithets of such people. “Such people create chaos, point fingers, shift blame, and avoid taking responsibility”, says, Ann Brown.
One can find such people anywhere. They do not inhabit any particular ghetto. They live with us and throng the places everywhere like other people. They socialize with others but in a very mechanical and methodical manner. Hypocrisy, affectation, duality of nature, and verbal irony also define them. William Shakespeare, one of the greatest dramatists of all time, has created several such characters/people in his plays. Iago in ‘Othello’ is one the greatest and prototype examples of a shallow and toxic character in literature. His most famous quote connoting shallowness and toxicity is: ‘I am not what I am’. Such people always say one thing and mean another. They use double-talk/ verbal irony to swindle and satirize others. And they always intend to make others quarrel. They wedge discord in other people and make people butt their heads with each other by poisoning their ears through slandering and all that. They get a thrill and enjoy the misfortune of other people like the Shakespearean Iago.
Why do we need to avoid them?
Keeping any kind of rapport or association with such kinds of people may prove hazardous; hazardous not only in terms of one’s social life but also in terms of one’s mental poise and equilibrium. At the workplace or any other social stand, we are encircled by those who are morally, socially, and ethically good and also by those who are socially mean, ethically niggling, and mentally ill. Such socially mean, ethically niggling, and mentally ill people are termed ‘sociopaths' or ‘social nuts’. They are markedly shallow and obnoxiously toxic. Mind these people! Keep them at arm’s length! Distance yourself from them, if you hold dear your respect and grace. Such people are always out to tarnish and smear others through the process of ‘social slandering’. They do so because they are social misfits.
Never give a fig to such people. Keep them at bay. Teach them a lesson not by any tiff or brawl but through sheer avoidance and intellectual acuity. Keeping any sort of relationship with such people is always detrimental for us both in terms of social respect and psychological health. Such people always aim to tease others by using a very caustic and satirical lingo. This satirical lingo affects the mental stability of the people. Once people lose their mental stability, they fall prey to depression, insults, and all that. There are a range of such reasons for which we need to shun and avoid shallow and toxic people.
Avoiding and shunning such people will surely help us to live our lives in a poised, respectful, and graceful manner. Any sort of association with these people will always end up in disgrace, embarrassment, existential ennui, and crisis because they time and again try to make a fuss on petty issues. They are always in search of weakness in a person to exaggerate and expose it for their ulterior motives and selfish gains. Plus points in a person are like daggers to such people and any sort of flaw in a person thrills them highly. Such people are wolves in sheep’s clothing. We must identify them and dislodge them from our lives. It is better to sever poisonous relationships, for keeping good terms with a snake results end only in death.
If you dream of living a successful, respectable, and socially graceful life, then stop spending time with the people whom you think are shallow and toxic and it is crucial to let them go as soon as possible to live the life you’ve always dreamt of. Thereby hangs a tale!
Postscript: Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
(The author works as a Lecturer in English. He has qualified UGC-NET and JKSET in English and did Ph.D. and M.Phil from AMU. His book of poems ‘Sounds of Silence’ will be published in 2024 by BlueRose Publishers. He can be mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org)