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How to Socially Vaporize Inappropriate People (as Well as President and Mrs. Obama Have)

I think we can all agree that the GOP legislative staffer's comments on Malia and Sasha Obama's dress and behavior at the latest turkey pardoning ceremony were  inappropriate and offensive.  What I've found interesting, however, is how the remarks have not even been acknowledged by President and Mrs. Obama (and yes, she's not "Michelle," she's "Mrs. Obama."  She will be the First Lady or a former First Lady for the rest of her life.  If you didn't call Mrs. Reagan "Nancy" or Barbara Bush "Barbara," you don't call Mrs. Obama "Michelle."). 

"Ah," I thought to myself. "Social vaporization."

What is "social vaporization," you ask?

It's the refusal to dignify the offensive actions of a person and, in many cases, the ignorant person who acted, by ignoring them and their act.  Social vaporization to its fullest effect is treating the person who offended you like they don't exist.

There are some segments of our society that have made social vaporization a high art form.  Too often, when someone does something that offends us, we engage in social jiu jitsu -- we attempt to use that person's offensive conduct to harm them.  We deride the offender's conduct in their presence, try to correct the conduct, or inflict the same conduct upon the offender.  We also give the offender what they want:  Attention.

That's just way too much energy.  Social vaporization is so much more efficient.  To see social vaporization at its best, you need to be around old money Southerners.  Of all races.  They socially vaporize people by politely ignoring the conduct, removing themselves from the offender's presence with a polite excuse ("Could you excuse me for a moment?  I need to say hello to a dear friend of mine across the room."), and, depending on the magnitude of the transgression, never making themselves available to be of help to, or in the presence of, the offender.  They stop taking the offender's calls.  They decline social invitations from the offender.  And they do so without expending as much energy as it takes to wipe their behinds. 

I've had to socially vaporize people.  One was a house guest who made inappropriate comments about one of my family members shortly after I had experienced a death in my family.  Said house guest has never stepped foot in my home since.  Vaporized.  I don't even expend energy thinking about relenting and having this person in my home.  I made my Whitney Houston-inspired "Hell to the no" decision years ago.  Poof.  Vaporized. 

I, too, have been socially vaporized.  A lovely lady was trying to groom me for membership in The Links.  I didn't realize it at the time, and with my sense of Delta superiority, I didn't think it mattered.  I didn't respond appropriately to her overtures, didn't make it a priority to attend the right events.  She socially vaporized me.  I deserved it.  I was not ready for what she was offering.  And I learned to respect The Links.

But old money Southerners?  Talk about social vaporization.  They socially vaporize people so well that the people who are vaporized don't even know they've been vaporized.  The vaporized simply think that the vaporizers are just busy, going through a difficult time, or overwhelmed with family obligations.  In fact, vaporized folks often create excuses for those who vaporize them because they can't imagine that they have been socially vaporized.  The vaporizers treat the vaporizees politely when encountered, but that's about it.  Vaporizers don't explain.  That would be an unmerited expenditure of energy for people who don't deserve it.

Why socially vaporize someone?  Because they're probably not going to change, you can't raise them (because we all know you can't raise grown people), and it would raise your blood pressure to be continually assaulted by their inappropriate or insensitive behavior.

So how do you decide whether to socially vaporize someone?  Ask yourself the following questions:

1)  How offended was I by what the offender did?  If the answer is "extremely," then ask yourself:
2)  Do we even have a relationship?  If the answer is "no," vaporize them.  If the answer is "yes," ask yourself:
3)  Is this a relationship worth saving?  If not, vaporize them.

Vaporizing someone is like forgiving someone. Forgiving someone is giving up the hope that the past will ever be different.  Socially vaporizing someone is giving up the hope that the offending person will ever cease to offend you.

May the force of social vaporization always be with you.

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