Once you understand the difference between social aggression and asocial violence, you can make informed decisions on what you’re looking at — if it’s a ranting, noisy display, you have a choice. If someone pulls a knife and cuts you, you won’t make the fatal mistake of asking them why.
What you may have thought of as a single, sweeping continuum from hard stares to yelling to shoving to trading blows to grappling to killing can now be seen for what it is: a social display of aggression where the end-goal is not killing. The end-goal is social dominance. Now you understand that the tool of violence-the destruction of the human body with the goal of shutting down the brain-is always available. You don’t have to work your way through a step-by-step process to get charged up in order to use it.
And neither does he.
This should be the most sobering point. If you get into a rough-and-tumble bar fight to show him what’s what and he decides that he needs to injure you, that’s what’s going to happen. You think you’re going to trade blows. He just wants to stab you. Something is terribly out of balance here and you’re going to pay the price for playing by the rules in the place where there were none.
If, on the other hand, he just wants to compete with you for respect and territory, then it’s all going to work itself out like it always does.
The problem is that you have no idea what he’s thinking as you stand up to go after him. Will he play by the rules? Or will he feel so threatened that he will resort to violence to injure you, put you down, and end you? You won’t know until it’s happening, and that’s just not a smart bet.
Your best bet is keeping the competition in the ring-not on the street where it’s completely uncontrolled-and keeping the tool of violence for solving the problems that only that tool can solve. Like when someone wants to seriously maim or kill you. Being able to recognize the difference between social posturing and asocial violence will allow you to assess situations and make an informed decision on whether or not (and to what degree) to get involved.
If you find yourself asking “Should I hit him?” the answer is probably No.
The only reason you are even asking is because something deep down inside of you has recognized that, from a social and moral point of view, there’s something iffy about responding to the situation with violence. It’s the little angel of conscience on your shoulder, whispering in your ear.
Asocial violence is easy to recognize. It’ll make you sick to your gut and freeze your blood. You won’t have time for internal debates. The debate won’t even come up. In it’s place will be a sudden vacuum devoid of moral or ethical considerations. A vacuum that must be filled with decisive action. Attempting to communicate in this silent void is to assist in your own murder. Your words, your body language, your very humanity, mean nothing to the criminal sociopath. He won’t even blink when he pulls the trigger.
Keeping the social and asocial clear, clean and separate will save you a lot of trouble. It’ll keep you from breaking someone’s neck in a bar fight and it’ll keep you from negotiating with a serial killer. It keeps surprises to a minimum, and that’s always a Good Thing.
- When we think of violence we think of social interactions gone wrong-the bar fight, and at the outer end, the mugging. We prepare for these situations from a social point of view; we look through our social tool box to try to find remedies.
- Asocial violence is a very different beast than we’ve been led to believe from our social perspective, and cannot be handled using social tools. In fact, attempting to do this is what makes the average citizen such a brilliant victim.
- The criminal sociopath knows that violence is good for one thing and one thing only: shutting off the human brain.
- Confusing the two is bad for your health.
- Recognizing the difference between them saves you a lot of trouble.