In my fifty years, I have encountered only one person whom I have deliberately, unequivocally, and publicly cut out of my life.
That person then completely (and blessedly) vanished from my personal radar for eighteen years.
Some of my fellow Brainiacs, and some of our visitors, will recall this individual as well â€“ or will after I describe him. Thought he was gone, didnâ€™t you?
Well, thanks to the Internet, heâ€™s back. So this is the latest and greatest reason why I donâ€™t like the Internet. (Oh, sure, I use it. Here I am using it right now. However, as Iâ€™ve noted before: I donâ€™t like cars, but I know how to drive. And I donâ€™t like guns, but I know how to shoot. Life in the modern world often requires unpleasant compromises.)
What was the deal with this guy? And why did you shun him so utterly? many of you are wondering.
Iâ€™ll attempt to explain.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (as quoted on Wikipedia â€“ a dubious source, but since itâ€™s on the g***amn Internet, an appropriate reference point), a person must display three out of the following seven criteria to be diagnosed with “antisocial personality disorder” (that is, to be considered what a layman such as myself would call a “sociopath”):
1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
The only one of these characteristics that this guy didnâ€™t clearly display (from my admittedly non-professional vantage point) was Number 4.
But as for the rest â€“ you better believe it. Six out of seven.
Add in a pretty high level of insidious personal charm, and youâ€™ve got Poison.