I’ve got a theory that main character energy only bothers you if you are not the main character of your own life.
Which you might not be. Most of us are running around on programming we didn’t write, blithely unaware that we have accepted being a non-playable character in our own lives. We are acting like NPCs even though we aren’t. Fuck.
You don’t have to be an NPC. Life is actually shared consensus reality even if it has rules just like a game. The first step in making sure you aren’t an NPC is treating other humans like they are real people. Yes, cue the record scratch.
This is actually hard. It requires empathy. But it is very simple. It is just the golden rule. When you treat other humans as real players of the game of life, you will find quickly that they treat you as one too.
You need to be emotionally present with another person. It requires a couple minutes of empathy at most. I’d wager it’s like masturbation for men, you could pull it off in a minute flat if you had to.
But so few of us are bothering to show up for other people in any meaningful way anymore.
One of my favorite Twitter vibecamp folks, Critter, made the observation that it’s so rare to meet someone with agency on dating apps that it can cause some whiplash when you engage with “a live one” if you will excuse the pun.
I find this sad because it’s true. It’s rare to encounter people who are present in their own lives. People go through the motions of their lives because it’s the normal way to live. It just doesn’t have to be your reality if you don’t want it to be.
And it’s not an easy change to make for most of us. It’s actually confusing for internet natives to be reminded that there are people on the other end of the algorithm because so many of us simply aren’t acting like full humans anymore.
We are just running social programming and hoping it gets us the rewards we were promised. Gamification and financialization and other forms of nudging spreadsheet brain send us hustling for dopamine hits.
So how do you tell if someone isn’t just playing to their cultural programming script? Or framed another way, how do you stop acting like an NPC in your own life? And how do you find out if someone else is also looking to engage with you as a human with agency?
The biggest clue someone has agency is that they discuss their feelings and emotional reactions to you the person in front of them
They don’t cloak it in ideas & theory or art without connecting it to how it makes them feel in relation to you & your relationship with them
Julie Fredrickson on Empathy & Agency
I can’t believe I’m quoting myself but I summed it up reasonably well on Twitter in response to a mutual asking myself and Critter how you know if someone isn’t an NPC.
You show up in that moment with them and do not run any social scripts on them. You treat them like you’d like them to treat you.
You don’t try to control them with mirroring or other social techniques. If you are serious about being intimately in a moment with another person won’t use any technique. You will just be. It actually is vibes.
You will show up and ask them how they feel and will react honestly to their feelings. And yes sometimes those emotions may be unpalatable (anger, sadness, jealousy) but it’s the first crucial step in building trust with another person. And that’s how you stop being an NPC. Good luck!