Losing Your Composure
Most of us are, at one time or another, so overcome with emotions that it can be difficult to hold back our laughter, tears, or anger. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for us to apologize for our (even momentary) loss of composure. But do we really owe anyone an apology? Hannah Hoffman (YouTuber) got me thinking about this.
H: why do we apologize when we cry?
O: for our loss of composure?
H: but we don’t apologize for laughing?
O: I do…but then again, I’m Canadian.
H: why is losing our composure a bad thing rather than a normal expression of not being a psychopath?
That last part sounds somewhat confused. Surely, losing our composure shouldn’t be acceptable because it’s somehow “normal”. After all, many things were once considered “normal”, which are today rightly unacceptable (e.g. racism). So, I’m wary of supporting something simply on the grounds of its supposed “normalcy”. That sort of reasoning is clearly fallacious. But there’s another, even more obvious, problem.
Imagine that you have a neighbour with serious anger issues. He has fists like sledgehammers, is 6’10, and weighs 275 pounds. Suppose you're playing music one night, when he loses his composure. He begins raging against your playing music at 3 in the morning, when there’s nobody around to help you. Is his loss of composure then just a “normal” expression of him not being a psychopath? I don’t think so; and it’d be foolish to think nothing bad could result from him losing his composure, psychopath or not.
Hence, I’m skeptical about attempts to generally “normalize” loss of composure. Of course, it needn’t be a bad thing but that doesn’t mean that it’s never bad. To figure out whether or not it’s bad, it’s important to first consider the context.
So, is losing your composure to the point of weeping a bad thing? Well, I think it can be. Suppose that Jones lost her loved one. She finds out before a long intercity drive, say, from Toronto to Montréal. The sadness hasn’t hit her yet so she feels okay to drive. She begins driving when a song comes on the radio that gets her thinking about her loved one, and eventually causes her to get so overcome with emotions such that she loses her composure. Jones cannot focus on the task at hand (i.e. driving safely on the highway), she loses control of her vehicle and causes a major pile up, resulting in the loss of 90 innocent lives. Fortunately, for Jones, she comes out unscathed. Does she owe anyone an apology or was it just a “normal” expression of not being a psychopath?
Anyway, pull yourself together, people!
I’ll sign off with an appropriate song that was playing in the background as I wrote this blogpost: The Adults Are Talking by The Strokes
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