I’m sitting on a plane: there is a guy standing beside me, putting his luggage up in the overhead bin. I have an overwhelming desire to punch him in the bollocks. Actually, not a punch; more of a flick: a sack-tap, if you will. I know not from whence this urge came, but it entertains me no end. Am I evil?
My partner is driving home, along a dimly lit road, at night. I desperately want to tickle her, to give her a shock. I don’t want to die, but I think it would be funny. Our child slumbers deeply on the back seat; I know that any kind of tickle attack would wake her up: I am deeply amused by it nonetheless.
I am sitting in a well-known concert venue, in one of the balconies. The gig has not yet started, and the room is filling up nicely with many and varied strangers. I have the urge to have with me an item, a bag of warm dog poo say, to gently toss over the edge of the balcony, so that it falls straight down.
I am walking down the street; it is crowded. A collection of slow-walkers is meandering along in front of me. My stride is long; slowing down causes me pain. I wish I had, about my person, a megaphone with which to roar at the mewling herd of ruminants. That’s a lie: I actually wish I had a cattle prod.
All of this is in my head, and I have never put any of these hideous notions in to practice. I just don’t understand where they come from, or what purpose they serve. I am a civilised soul: I read books; I cook for my family; I have complex discussions about art, history and politics. However, I also do seem to want to be a naughty little pixie, wreaking havoc all around and about for my own giggles.
These desires to shock, just to see the reaction, are that of a toddler or a young child: someone who does not understand that these actions are “wrong”. Is that the only thing separating me from a life of abusing other people: The understanding that some modes of behaviour are identified by our culture as being “wrong”? If that is the only reason, one of these days something is going to snap.
Going on a loony tunes rampage is something I have idly pondered about many times over the last few decades. I seem to have some kind of brake on these actions, allowing me to compartmentalise these antisocial urges in to daydreams. I don’t want to make you cry, but it seems that I really do want to hurt you. Someone should write a song about that. I don’t actually want to hurt anybody.
What if I didn’t have a brake on these urges? Would I be like one of these social media “Prankster” morons, claiming that my idiotic intrusion on to other peoples’ existences is “Just a joke”, or that I’m doing it “for the bantz”? Do I tell them that they should just get over themselves, and learn to take a joke? Would I tell them that it’s political correctness, or that it’s indicative of a nanny state at work?
Put simply, no: I am not educationally subnormal. In fact, I would look sheepish and take the verbal beating, which I was rightly due. I am a coward after all. That’s why I don’t pretend to push people on to the tracks when a train is approaching. I want to; I think it would be more than a little hilarious: The scream, followed by sound of flowing liquid. After all, I was amused, and that’s what matters.
I would be a capricious god, were I so inclined. Yes, humanity would be my little puppets, oblivious to the hand of the jester divine; I would have so much fun at your expense. I really should get myself a copy of a game like Sims, where I could vent my idiocy all the live long day, for your safety. Then again, it may feed in to my deviant desires too much, and my family would never get fed again.
These urges are natural, or so I tell myself. The digressions of a fool are simply a steam valve, a way to not go off in public, wreaking havoc on a busy shopping street. Notice I did not say “taking half of a busy shopping street with me.” That would be suicide bombing, and murder is not something I ever want to be connected with. As an atheist, there would be no kind of halcyonic afterlife for me.
The imagined suffering of others is an abstract concept: a spooky action from a distance. It has not happened, so it is not real. Yet, we are creating it in our minds, so it takes place, one way or another, and we can recall the scene in our mind’s eye, as long as our faculties exist. Does that mean that our deranged fantasies have actually taken place on some level, merely on a different layer of reality?
A good part of this desire to cause ill is simply an overactive ego: I want the world to notice me, even if that means setting fire to everything in the process. A greater part of this is the desire to create untold chaos in the world around me, like some kind of deviant entropy engine. A good part of this is my love of the grotesque, and the absurd. I cannot help it, any more than I can help liking curries.
The fact of the matter is that our existence needs us to not do any of the crazy, painful, antisocial things which occasionally pop in to our heads. We may occasionally rub our hands in glee at some incident of schadenfreude, but we would not like to be the ones pushing someone over on an icy path. Distance is the key to enjoying the pain of a complete stranger. And that’s why YouTube exists.
The fact of the matter is that everyone has a different sense of humour. I, for instance, hate seeing prank videos, where unsuspecting people are attacked in the streets, for YouTube hits. I put myself in the place of the prankee, rather than the prankster, and feel pain for their indignity. That said, I am very amused by the notion of randomly slapping a stranger in the knackers. Different strokes.
The fact of the matter is that there are some people out there without such brakes on their urges to the malevolent. These people are criminals and/or idiots. They have a disruptive effect on the very society in which we live; they make civil society almost impossible. And that is why I would love to find a few of them and flick them in the eye. Or kick them up the arse. Or push them down the stairs.