Answer to the Question: “What do credit cards, Facebook, and abortions have in common?”


The answer is that they all cause a very particular phenomenon that I have not found a name for yet, other than the fact that I call it a masking of emotional reality. It’s a psychological phenomenon characterized by a suspension of inhibition and an ability to allow ones self to engage in behaviors that one would other not engage in due to a certain masking effect that lessens the emotional response to a given situation because there is one or more layers removing the individual from the true emotional consequences of experiencing the given activity directly. However these consequences are not lessened in the real world. All the same effects occur but they are not felt immediately as they normally would. In fact are often compounded because of the delay.

 

Credit Card: It is well documented that most people run into more problems with credit and debit cards than they do with actual cash. This is because when you hand over cash to someone else you feel every single dollar. You have kah-ching sounds ringing in your ears while your mind calculates all the packages of Top Ramen or months of rent you could  have used that money on. Many people get in trouble with credit cars because they mask the sensation or emotional reality of handing over money to somebody. After all they have nothing more in their hands and you have nothing less in yours. They simply swipe it and hand it back. You can do this many times for very large amounts without necessarily feeling it. The intense feeling of regret and buyers remorse comes in a month later when you get the bills and see the interest and feel money draining from your account.

 

Facebook: Anyone that has had a Facebook account for more than 6 months realizes that there is something about the medium of the internet, but Facebook in particular, gives users the nerve to say almost anything to friends, employers, professors, and family members that they wouldn’t dare even think of saying if they were face to face, on the phone, or even through texting. Any even remotely controversial status update will be inundated with moms and brothers, old college roommates, nuns and pastors, lighting each other up with every borderline curse word that Facebook will allow to make some type of pseudo-intellectual point. Again, just like the credit card, something about the sterility of the computer screen allows us to say every hateful and perverted thing that comes to mind, while there’s not a chance we would say it otherwise.

 

Abortion: This causes the masking of emotionally reality as well. If you think about it, if a house or a mine collapses and there are workers working inside, we will stop at nothing to get them out. Even if it’s been days and we aren’t quite sure people are still alive, unless everyone is confirmed dead, we will not stop searching, for that off chance that perhaps we can save even one life. That’s because these lives are tangible to us. We just saw them the other day, and to let them go would be unthinkable. But we will argue about something like abortion and say that, well we can’t quite figure out when a child is considered truly alive. But this time we go with what ever we feel like going with, because the life of the child is not tangible to us in the same way as the miner’s life was, though intellectually we’ll say it is a similar situation. The baby, having not really been seen or felt, held or touched, and not having made any relationships with us in the same sense that a miner may have a wife and kids and friends, does not quite seem alive, even as alive as a 2 day year old infant does, because by then the child has already grabbed us emotionally.

 

This, again, seems to be the same phenomenon. We can spend much more money because we are unnaturally sheltered from the immediate sense that we are spending. We can have a cursing match with a priest online because we are unnaturally sheltered from the immediate sense of the inappropriateness and the damage we are doing to our most cherished relationships. And we can also abort babies midway through their development because we are unnaturally sheltered from the true sense of snuffing out life.

 

The unfortunate nature of this phenomenon is that this sheltering only last for a time. And just as delayed gratification seems so much sweeter than immediate, once it finally comes, delayed consequences seem to be all the harsher as well.

 

 

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