the herd mentality
we are herd animals. and when herd animals get separated from the herd, they get nervous. it's not "natural". it doesn't feel "right". it doesn't feel "normal". when we stop feeding our addiction, not only do we have to deal with physical withdrawal from the nicotine, we also have to deal with the psychological "withdrawal" of separation; because, when we stop smoking, we're leaving the herd.
the less smokers there are, the less reasonable it will seem to be one of them. the less smokers there are, the less likely it is that the rest of the world will be willing to accommodate them.
and it makes us nervous.
it also makes the herd nervous when an animal leaves: one of the biggest advantages to traveling in a herd is the protection it offers the members. in a herd, the most valuable members are always closest to the center: it's the place of honor; it affords the most protection from the dangers that lurk outside the herd. when animals leave the herd, the herd gets smaller. the center moves closer to the edge. and the entire herd finds this threatening; if the most valuable members of the herd are in greater danger, so is the entire herd.
has any of us not noticed that, when we decide to leave the herd, the great majority of our still-smoking friends and acquaintances seem less than supportive? has any of us never had the feeling that many of these same still-smoking friends and acquaintances would really like nothing better than to see us fail? why do you suppose that is?
because we're making them nervous. we're making the herd smaller. and they sense that, the smaller the herd becomes, the more danger they're in. the less smokers there are, the less reasonable it will seem to be one of them. the less smokers there are, the less likely it is that the rest of the world (the non-smokers and ex-smokers) will be willing to accommodate them. they see their "range" shrinking. they feel threatened. they don't want you to leave. it's self-preservation that motivates their attempts to sabotage your quit, to pull you back into the herd.
and if you study history in even the most superficial way, you know that there is no honor in self-preservation. the vast majority of people will do anything to survive, to maintain the status quo, to avoid the pain of change. if this was not the case, then self-sacrifice would not be noble; it would be commonplace. unremarkable. and heroes would be nothing special; they'd be a dime a dozen. there'd be one on every street corner.
this website, like most of the web, runs on the "honor system"; you can't see me, you don't know where i am or what i look like. and i can't see you, either; i have no way of knowing that you are what you say you are. but it doesn't really matter. what really matters is not what you look like, or how old you are, or what sex you are. what matters is what you say, what you do, what you contribute.
i look around this website, and i see people who i know are for real. i know they're walking the same road as me; i can hear it in their words. i can see it in their actions. i can feel it in their souls that they pour out on the virtual paper we all write on. i see them struggling with the same demons i've become intimately acquainted with over the last 33 days. i see them leaving notes of encouragement for their fellow strugglers.
i also see people that i know are phonies: i see anonymous notes written by cowards whose only apparent purpose here is to spew the vile refuse of their soul-less existence onto the screen in an attempt to discourage noble warriors who struggle daily with their own personal demons and who have the strength of character to prevail.
i see pseudo-anonymous attacks by pretenders who cry that their meager one-syllable posts aren't getting the attention that they deserve. sorry, if you want attention, you're in the wrong place. i'm struggling for my life here; if you've got something of value to offer, believe me, i'll notice it. otherwise, you're just taking up bandwidth; please do it somewhere else.
i see self-appointed vigilantes who have succumbed to the delusion that they are the sole arbiters of what is good and right, that they are the saviors of this website, of us all. sorry to disappoint you, but i'm too busy getting through today to have much patience with your delusions, or your arrogance. i'm perfectly capable of separating fantasy from reality, and i haven't got any room in my mind or my heart for pretenders.
i know who you are: you're the emissaries of the herd. well, i've left the herd; your bleating voices don't call to me any more.
i prefer the company of warriors.