Adventures du jour! The Ooze Test (Sept 22, 2023)

Please note, I’m in the mood for horror stuff, so the Midjourney prompts from now until, well, November may be a bit gory!

The Ooze Test.

This is a report on a thought experiment I was working on earlier, that is, how to handle people who kind of just “oozed” into my life and tried to get away with doing destructive, manipulative things without getting caught or being accountable.

tl;dr: So far, so good.

I sent an email to a friend to get a sanity check from her about a month ago, got her response, processed it, finally wrote her back today and…realized that my internal landscape has changed since then. I’m not the person I was a month ago.

I haven’t had any major resets, the kind where I wake up and feel like my conscious brain got turned off and imperfectly rebuilt from save files, but I did wake up a dozen times in the middle of the night with things where I went, “If you don’t figure this out now, it’s a reset for you.” The most recent one was last night/this morning, I think? I didn’t fully wake up, just got up and went to the bathroom, drank some water, said, “Do whatever you need to, brain,” went back to bed.

Today I’ve been struggling to find words for things, trouble spelling things, trouble keeping my usual filters in place. And the whole situation with oozers made more sense, suddenly, in a way that made me wonder why I’d been having trouble in the first place. So *something* changed while I slept, but it didn’t make such big changes that I feel cut off from my past self. More like some dots have been connected, a new pathway has been built.

So here we go.

What’s an oozer? Someone who tries to bypass your stated or unstated boundaries in a way that may have a low chance of success but certainly has a low chance of getting punished for it. The goal of oozing seems to be to test boundaries in preparation for other lines of attack.

Catcalling is an ooze, a pretty blatant one. It’s not about telling a woman she’s pretty or having a shot of a sexual or personal relationship with her; it’s about testing her boundaries and seeing what makes her uncomfortable–gathering information about potential vulnerabilities.

People who show up in your comments to stir up shit but act like they’re trying to have a rational conversation are oozers.

Mansplainers are oozers.

People who say, “Can’t you take a joke?” are oozers.

People who say, “You’re not like [insert group here]. You’re different!” are often oozers.

People who bring up arguments just to waste time, frustrate everyone involved into quitting, overload participants with pointless administrative tasks, enter a conversation and expect to be the centerpiece/expert–oozers.

I’ve had to face the fact that I am particularly vulnerable to oozers. I have most of the blantant assholes picked out of my life at this point. It’s definitely been a net gain. But I was still having to deal with people, time and again, who made me cringe every time I saw them come up on my social media feeds, or who might make me avoid an event if I knew they’d be there. I didn’t know why, mostly; I just knew that they were going to suck the life out of everything they touched.

Understanding that their presence made me constantly have to defend against them, anticipate their every objection, dance to their tune in order to minimize their disruption, helped me see how cumulatively draining and damaging they were.

Here’s how I’m identifying them:

–Listening to myself when I have a negative reaction to someone, but they aren’t definitely an asshole. (I can feel my own negative reactions a lot of the time now.)

–Once alerted, watching to see whether they try to replace my opinion with their opinion three times. This is stuff like “You can’t really think that!” or “Of course you want to go!” or “Everyone knows that X is tacky! Why would you even want to?”

–Respond with a “no” three times, a minimal “no” that doesn’t go into deep reasons, just “I disagree” or “I don’t want to.”

–If they keep pressuring me, that’s a red flag. They get three chances.

–If they back off, apologize, ask me for my reasons and accept them (instead of using them to try to pressure me further), then that’s just a person being overenthusiastic.

Trying to pressure me into not prioritizing my own thoughts, feelings, opinions, and best interests three times means that an unfriending or blocking is in order online, or a “I don’t feel comfortable in this conversation. I’m leaving now” in person. No further argument or justification necessary or desired; anything I say can and will be used against me.

It may seem harsh, but think about the oozers in your life: have they ever given you anything that didn’t cross the line somehow? wear you out, make you tired, depressed, sad, lonely, feeling like you should somehow do *more* for them, even when you know it’s a bad idea? Like if you could give them just a little bit more, they’d be satisfied and leave you alone? Only they never really do? Or like you somehow always have to hurry? Like you’re on their schedule, not yours? Like nothing you ever do is good enough, but you’re gonna get snubbed if you don’t keep doing it anyway?

Yeah. It doesn’t seem important until you add it up.

So I went through my social media contacts recently and cleaned out a bunch of folks. Most of them were no longer active on social media; a not-insigificant number of people were dead. (Which was sad for all kinds of reasons.) And I dropped a number of these oozers, each one making me feel lighter as I let them go.

Will they notice? Eventually.

Will they backstab me later? It’s a valid worry. Oozers are backstabbers, gossips, mean girls, guilt trippers.

But so far, so good.

Midjourney’s idea of what “oozing past your defenses” would look like.

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