Why Do We Do This to Ourselves?

We texted them this morning and they haven’t gotten back to us. 

The non-response leaves a huge gap.  So, our mind begins to construct a story to fill it in and that story is the worst possible and/or outlandish scenario our creative mind can manifest.  It could be anything from a car accident to a mudslide to an alien abduction.

Why do we skip over probable logic and go right to supernatural, weather phenomena, the paranormal, and cryptozoology?  Maybe it was Bigfoot.  Could be, but … yeah, no … it’s not.  Frank’s not the kind of guy to go on an impromptu hike through the woods, but you never know.       

Then, enough time goes by and we go from concern to anger.  Now they’re just ignoring us!  “Why are they ignoring me?”  And we reread our text to make sure we didn’t say anything to drive them to such a disrespectful action as non-action.  We didn’t.  Hmm.  WTF?!

“Maybe they’re not interested in hanging out.  Why don’t they just say that?”

Meanwhile … they’re in BFE with no cell reception or they’re at work, stuck in a three hour meeting.  The real answer is so simple that it can’t possibly be that they’re in the shower, took their phone into the hot tub (done that), or lost the damn thing. 

We’re so uncomfortable with the unknown we have to construct theories and answers, even when those “answers” are quite improbable.

It’s like a movie based on true events.  It’s NOT a true story.  The Perfect Storm is a great example.  Who the hell knows what happened on that boat after it left the dock?  They all died so there’s one to tell anyone what went down.  Uh, no pun intended. 

But, it’s not really our fault that we do this.  Our brains are wired this way.  It’s designed to fill in information gaps to help us navigate reality.  When we cover one eye, our brain will create an optical illusion to fill in missing information from the blind spot.  And yes, this phenomenon is actually known as “filling-in”.  Quite clever. 

So, our stories, theories, and chosen beliefs help us to cope with information gaps, the non-response, and the absence of THE answer.  They keep us occupied, strangely entertained, and oddly neurotically comforted through the darkness, so that we don’t explode.

And … oh, wait; they texted us back:  They said they were at the beach and left their phones in the car and would love to go to the movies with us on Saturday and they’re pretty sure its based on a true story.

Photo by Azat Satlykov on Unsplash

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