Dear Dr. Babooner,
Recently I fired an employee because others had been spreading lies about her – lies that I quickly believed because to do so was easier than uncovering the truth. Not a lot easier, though. If I had only talked to her first, I would have seen that something was wrong. Later, when I found out that the stories about this woman were exactly backwards, I had to go crawling on my knees to ask the employee to come back to work.
Ordinarily I would never have dismissed this person, but I was worried about what people would say when they heard the lies and I thought quick, decisive action might protect me from criticism. And yet now I am being severely criticized.
Even the people who spread the lies are saying I over-reacted. These liars are also suggesting that my boss was behind the whole thing and that now I am lying to cover up for him. To be called a liar by liars – what misery! And the more I say about it, the worse it gets. Plus, the weather the past few days has been very, very hot and uncomfortable.
My antagonists made a terrible mistake, and instead of using it against them, I amplified it and made it my own. I feel like somewhere along the way I agreed to play a nasty, silly game with them, and now I can’t quit playing it even though I want to!
Dr. Babooner, how can I make this madness stop?
Secretary of Blunders
I told S.O.B. that it isn’t unusual to get drawn into a contest so deeply that you forget there is a larger world that operates under different rules than the fake ones that only govern the weird game you are playing. That’s why athletes wear uniforms. Football players know when they’ve got on their big shoulders, their tall socks and the lightning bolts or birds of prey or funny animal horns on their hats that they’re in an environment where it’s OK to knock people down. Soccer players know when they’re wearing shiny shorts they’re not allowed to use their hands. Costumes can be useful that way. Perhaps people in media and politics should wear extravagant uniforms too, especially when they’re pointing fingers at each other. That way maybe we’ll all remember this isn’t real, it is simply a game they can’t stop playing.
But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?