EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul offers his take on the morality of putting people to narrow uses, such as only being interesting in someone for sex, or only for their entertainment value.
THE CRITICS GO NUCLEAR! “Once again, Paul Sunstone has taken it upon himself to discuss morality. Hence, once again he has taken it upon himself to load a high calibre rifle with a shotgun shell. Typical Sunstone, he is oblivious to the fact the shell didn’t fit, and he is just as oblivious to the fact his notion of morality does not fit the moral requirements nor standards of human nature. Sunstone is proposing a moral code for bacteria.” — Gus “Gunning Gus” Johnson, The Blog Critic’s Column, “Leper’s Gulch Gazette”, Leper’s Gulch, Colorado, USA.
(About a 4 minute read)
Some years ago, there as a woman here in town out of rural Texas who annoyed me to no end. Most of my friends could not understand it. Sharon was just as sweet as pecan pie (which was one of her favorite expressions, by the way), why didn’t I like pretty, sweet Sharon?
This was about twenty years ago, back when I often had a hard time describing things and ideas that were at the time new to me. I could not explain to my friends what I so strongly disliked about Sharon. At least not in a way they could understand. About all I could really tell them is she set off alarm bells. I had seen her type before.
Well, time went by and Sharon started losing friends.
Basically, my friends started catching onto Sharon’s “shallow” friendliness. Basically, Sharon was a poser. On the surface, she went well out of her way to “comfort and help” people. On the surface, the worse off you were, the sooner Sharon was there to “care” for you.
Unfortunately, as most people eventually figured out, that was all an act.
It seems Sharon had only a very narrow interest in other people. She didn’t really care for others — she only cared to be entertained by others. Josh — who was habitually straight to the point about nearly everything — was the most brutal about it, “Sharon is a vampire. She feeds on your dramas.”
To elaborate, Sharon had one and only one use for you. She was like someone who only wants you for a fuck and nothing else. Only with Sharon, it wasn’t about sex, it was about the entertainment value to her of your dramas.
But that wasn’t the part of it that annoyed me the most about Sharon.
I was pretty clumsy expressing it at the time, but the most annoying thing about Sharon was she lied about what you meant to her. And when she wasn’t outright lying to you, she encouraged you to believe you meant much more to her than you really did.
To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with being entertained by other people. At least nothing wrong that I can see. I would even go further to say, there’s nothing really wrong with being interested in other people only for their entertainment value.
In other words, we should never treat other people as if their value as persons was only their entertainment value to us, but — putting aside how we should treat people — I cannot see anything morally wrong with being interested in other people only for their entertainment value.
As I see it, I am in no moral position to dictate to someone what should interest them about other people. I’m not a noble and esteemed politician, preacher, or paid pundit. Thus, I do not have a noble and esteemed financial, monetary, or career interest in treating folks like children. Children’s lives can — a least, legally — be bossed around. But I don’t see moral grounds to boss round adult lives when adults are not harming anyone but themselves.
To me, the right of an adult to be authentic — to be true to his or her self — in a socially and environmentally responsible way is paramount, and it is nearly inviolate.
So, all I see is that I have an obligation to treat people with respect — even if I’m only narrowly interested in them — and that I have a right to demand people treat me with respect, too — even if they are only interested in me for purposes of their entertainment.
Basically, the same principle applies to sex. I’m not going to tell someone they must seek only deeply meaningful, committed relationships. It’s not my place to meddle with the sexual morals of consenting adults. After all, I am not one of those miraculously favored people who the gods themselves have shoved under his or her butt a ten foot tall judge’s bench.
In a larger sense, I fail to see how people can in general be truly passionate, happy, and self-flourishing in life without they be substantially true to themselves. The notion someone can be largely false to themselves and still be, say, passionate about anything just does not sum for me.
Consequently, I would not stand even in Sharon’s way when all she’s interested in about someone is their entertainment value to her. It seems to me that was her, that was Sharon. Whatever else she was, she was being true to herself.
My one beef is that I find it immoral to lie to people about it. If the only thing someone is to you is their entertainment value, then don’t lead them on, don’t encourage them to think you esteem and admire them for more than that.
I think we all of us have a moral right to demand that others respect us enough as persons to be honest with us about such things.
Thoughts? Opinions? Questions? Cocktail recipes?
For more on the most moral ways to treat people, see:
Paul’s Three Inviolate Rules of Sex. (About a one minute read.)
Paul’s Two Hard Ass Rules for All Relationships. (About a two minute read.)