One-way Empathy: It’s not me, it’s you (Introduction)

I’ve started freewriting intending to write the first “real” chapter of my book. Though I’ve only started, I’ve already run into my first problem: I can’t figure out what I should title my book….

Sure, I don’t need a title to write, but working on something with a name makes it much easier to discuss. The name doesn’t have to be perfect; I can change it later once the chapters cohere—the point is to have a starting point.

Back to the name, it must reflect the content, and tie it to my name and writing style. I just realized I don’t have a solid topic for the book… Well, that’s a problem—bigger than my title… New top priority: figure out a topic for my book. Given my breadth of interests, I don’t know where to start, so I’m going to build on the next word that comes to mind:


I regret committing to this plan already… Well, at least I have a starting point now: write about empathy. Of everything I could’ve picked, why did this come to mind? What did I do to deserve this?! I don’t know how I’m going to pursue this yet—WAIT! I know exactly how I’m going to approach this. I’ll take a look at lessons I’ve learned, experiences I’ve experienced through two different lenses: my perspective on things now, and my perspective back then. If things proceed as intended, I’ll have created something good enough to explain what made me the way I am today—this includes my mood (e.g. high highs, low lows), my outlook (e.g. why I dislike people), my mental health issues , my coping strategies (the healthy ones and… the others…). It should help you see things through my perspective after I’ve finished explaining myself.

Now that I have my topic, I can revisit the title. The title must reflect me and my writing, so it should (at least try to) be funny. It needs to be something that’s discomforting enough to rile someone up, but captivating enough to hook you. Empathy involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes; it’s supposed to be a two-way street.

NOTE: It should be a two-way street if only two people are involved. I guess if multiple people are involved, we're gonna need a roundabout... Unfortunately, going down that road leads back to where we started...

It involves you connecting with the other.

NOTE: Collision doesn't count as connecting here. Stay in your own lane.

This brings me to one-way empathy—that’s not especially empathic is it? At that point it’s just deciphering someone else’s perspective, so “one-way empathy” sounds like a strange enough phrase to title my book—it’s odd enough to pique one’s curiosity, but relatable enough to keep reading…

“One-way Empathy” alone doesn’t completely reflect what I’m trying to convey though. Rather, it doesn’t convey enough of what I’m getting at since it lacks a simple joke. It would be inappropriate for me to say anything without a(n attempt at a) joke… In case I wasn’t clear, the title’s incomplete because it lacks a joke. You know, like in case it really wasn’t clear.

NOTE: DISCLAIMER—I do not take responsibility for whether or not you find the joke funny—unless you find it hilarious. In that case I take full responsibility for the joke. I will also take responsibility if you find it marginally funny; I'm simple.

“It’s not you, it’s me” is something people say when they’re trying to be relatable and serious. “It’s not me, it’s you” is something I’d say to get a reaction out of someone—it’s something innocuous enough to slip into a casual conversation, and might make someone laugh once they slowly realize what I’ve said. The joke’s nondescript enough to give me enough time to escape any complications, and short enough to compete with my attention span too.

NOTE: SHUTUP IT'S COLD. Sorry, wrong joke. I meant: My attention span's sho—

Okay, my title’s almost complete. Now I need to create a little discomfort—not too much though, just enough to make you feel uneasy.

NOTE: Here, discomfort isn't the "I ate bad sushi" kind of discomfort, nor is it the "please, I can't handle any more of this Chūnibyō." It's more of an—I don't know exactly how to describe it. I'll try to recreate the experience instead. We're tuning into the internal monologue right when the joke starts sinking in. Unfortunately, it's about an hour after you've heard it while you're in line to grab coffee—presumably from Tim Hortons. After all, the saying is indeed All Roads Lead To Tim Hortons. Anybody who claims otherwise is mistaken or working for the Roman Tourism Industry...

Hey, that’s kinda funny—but should I laugh? I don’t know if that’s offensive or not. What will others think? Okay, I’m overthinking this—just laugh!

…But don’t laugh too hard ’cause you’ll appear insane. How am I going to explain this? If I tell them that I’m laughing at a joke I heard an hour ago it just makes me look slow. On the other hand, if I don’t tell them, it looks like I’m laughing at this cashier, and I don’t want to make her any life any rougher than it already is.

Enough time has passed now, she probably thinks I’m a creep or a moron who’s never used the tap feature on this portable payment processing terminal—or worse, both! Is it hot in here? Maybe I’m imagining things? I’ll close my eyes, take a deep breath, wake up, and realize this is all just a dream.

It’s not a dream. The squirming, blinking, and grimacing at this awkward situation makes it look like I’m trying to inconspicuously undo a wedgie… I need to let her know that I’m not crazy. You know what, screw it. There’s no redeeming myself now. I’ll just cut my losses, finish paying, and move on with my life. I hope I never run into this cashier again…


%^&*!! This machine doesn’t have a tap feature. Also, this isn’t my debit card—it’s my library card…

RIP self-esteem, and social clout .

Attributed to a “wise” man—not to be confused with a wise man, a wise guy, or me

You know, I think “One-Way Empathy: It’s not me, it’s you” works well enough. I’ll let the reader figure out whether I’m talking about it from someone else’s perspective or my perspective.

NOTE: Or from mine.

That solves my title problem! Now I can move onto chapter one…

NOTE: Umm, actually you mean "That solves my title problem..."

NOTE 96: I’ve updated my Contact Me page explaining how you can help me if you choose to. This includes a messaging form, my gmail address, my Twitter account, and a donation button to my Ko-Fi page. I’ll update specifics gradually.


Shifty Shades of Cray: BYOT


We left off right before I introduce you to the first incident at the camp. As I was writing my first draft I was chatting with a friend. Chatting with friends/family helps my writing immensely—that’s how this topic arose. Running a few ideas by them convinced me that life will be easier for everyone involved if I devote some time to analogies—mainly, but not exclusively, mental health analogies…

I explain myself often—ultimately, because I’m eccentric weird.

NOTE: Sorry, I'm not rich enough to be eccentric... yet... 

Explaining myself repeatedly for 50 years (give or take 40 years) has taught me that analogizing my experiences always helps—well almost always. It has only failed when dealing with bad faith arguments/situations, but honest attempts were doomed to fail there anyways…

Today I’ll address how I perceive people. I’m useless when I can’t gamify things, so I gamify interacting with and/or understanding people. Naming things makes them easier to discuss, so I’ll name today’s game Build Your Own Toy—hereafter abbreviated BYOT. I care most about communicating the idea efficiently and effectively, so I’ll stick to this for now. You don’t need to call it that—call it whatever you want—as long as you get the point, great.

NOTE: Game doesn't explain BYOT best. It's not the word we deserve; it's the one we get...

I don’t willingly play BYOT; it’s neither fun nor trivial—it’s just a description of what happens; it’s an analogy. For those who disagree whether or not you can call something that’s neither fun nor trivial a game, try Monopoly. I only play Monopoly with people I’d take a bullet for… What I mean by that is completely up to your interpretation.

If we’re serious, BYOT is one of my coping mechanisms for triggers and intrusive thoughts, but it’s a lot more manageable if I just call it a game. Calling it a game adds a bit of levity. Anyway, how does it work?


  1. Acknowledge (and accept) it. Trying to forcibly rid myself of it worsens everything…
  2. Update it when something changes. Never assume it’s over.
  3. NEVER tell anyone about their results. Seriously, never. But Roybert, what if it’s
    shutup, I said never for a reason…

Aside from that, it’s straightforward: when you meet someone, (conceptually) build a toy that’s accurate enough to replicate them. Here are a few sample questions that steer my process (about building the toy—once again, conceptually…):

  • What would it do?
  • What would it say?
  • What do they like?
  • What do they hate?
  • Do they have any catchphrases or mannerisms?
  • What differentiates them from others?
  • What humanizes them?
  • How do/would I get them to leave me alone? (This one takes precedence above all: always have an exit strategy…)

This exercise helps me manage most intrusive thoughts and triggers (pertaining to people). It doesn’t solve everything, but it always helps. To be clear, it’s not something I consciously do—or force myself to—this just describes the process well enough to discuss it. It doesn’t mean that I confuse this for reality—it’s an analogy.. You might find this repetitive, but I like to clarify things for when some [redacted] chimes in with worst type of UmM, aCtUaLlY —the one that’s neither relevant, correct, nor entertaining…

Also, just because it took me this long to explain this doesn’t mean that’s how long it takes me to “play” it—people gloss over that part, and I wish they didn’t…

Never share the results: people don’t like finding out that they’re closer to an NPC than a person…

Now that you know how BYOT works, I hope things (will) make more sense…

Next post I’ll return to the story I started last post (you know, the one where I volunteer at the chess camp)… If someone interjects with another idea, I might just head down that path and move the story back one more post…

Thank you for your time,
Roybert S. Henanigans

NOTE 0: I’m supposed to promote myself here. Like, comment, follow, yell at me via email (please make any vitriol entertaining—though ideally, no vitriol would be nice), and more (please see NOTE 96).

NOTE 1: No, “cray” is not an official word, but I’m dedicated to this bit.

NOTE 96: I’ve updated my Contact Me page explaining how you can help me if you choose to. This includes a messaging form, my gmail address, my Twitter account, and a donation button to my Ko-Fi page. I’ll update specifics gradually…