Why we love to shoot the messenger
Winston Churchill famously commented that man’s favourite activities are war and gardening. He neglected to mention something else though.
Man has always loved to shoot the messenger.
Before we delve into why we love to attack those people who warn us that our friends or enemies are ‘unhappy’ with us, we’re going to look at what a ‘messenger’ is.
A messenger is essentially someone who decides to take it upon themself to mediate a dispute by acting on behalf of one of the parties.
Typical behaviours of a messenger
– They try to be friends with everyone and appear to promote peace and harmony within friendship circles
– They appear to be mature, respectful and well-mannered
– They have no sense of humour and take everything seriously, and personally
– They frequently and openly speculate on whether their friends suffer from psychological illness
– They are the person who calls the ambulance when someone drinks too much at a party
– They are the person who calls the police when someone takes drugs at a party
– They were that person who told their parents, who then told your parents that you smoked pot when you were 15, leading to the imposition of North Korea style sanctions which involved no TV, no video games and no socialising for a full year.
– They were that person who told your ex that you were still in love with them.
The reason nobody likes a Messenger
It’s quite simple.
The main reason nobody likes a messenger is because they get involved in a conflict that has nothing to do with them.
The carry an aura of self-importance and tell themselves that they are doing ‘the right thing.’ They approach you with a foul smelling smugness, put their hand on your shoulder and offer you ‘advice’ that you didn’t ask for, don’t want and don’t agree with.
Why people become Messengers
Make no mistake. Messengers are not the peaceful, friendly people they pretend to be. Women are among the worst offenders because they can hide their bitterness and resentment with a maternal, caring attitude. For example, you haven’t spoken with Cara for 2 months, and you suspect she’s upset with you. Lucy, a friend to both of you, comes to you, hugs you, and says, ‘you need to watch what you say, Cara is willing to be friends with you again, but only if you dump Craig, move out of the city, start jogging and stop wearing that red, frilly dress.’
You see, messengers generally don’t repeat the exact message of another person, word for word. They will almost always add a few of their own issues and mix them up in the original message. In this way, messengers are able to tell you to your face, everything they don’t like about you, without having to experience the awkwardness of confrontation.
Why we love to shoot them
The pontificating, self-righteous attitude of messengers has led them to become among the most despised people in human history. We attack them because we know their game. Messengers fool no one. We can see the pleasure they take in conveying a message and we find their condescending mediation extremely frustrating.
So what do we do in these situations? Naturally, we shoot them.