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Us vs. The Other…
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Growing up, my parents were hypercritical of people. The way they dressed, way they spoke/drove.. everything…

I always assumed that I was being judged with the same scrutiny as they turned on other people. Pairing that with the nature of my religion to tell me that I am a terrible, terrible person, I soon came to the conclusion that my family would be happier with me gone. I swung back and forth between permanent and less permanent ideas. Thankfully none of them stuck. Though, I still have the occasional urge to grab my cats, computer, and bike and move across country and just disappear.

Today, I realized something.

I think that typically, we use a different measure of criticism on “Us” than we do on “them.”

There is the measure we use against the Other. Pick your Other, maybe it is religious right or the liberal left or new atheists or fundamentalist Christians… there is an Other. We are harsh and see every flaw. Everything they do is pre-judged bad and out to destroy Me/Us. So attack first or die!

Then we have our In-Group. There is some judgment here(shifting based on proximity)… but nowhere near the same level. If our in-group member does something that is borderline, we’ll gloss over it. After all, we can rationalize away almost anything. You have to seriously cross a line to get direct assault. Though faults may be poked fun of, which is different…

And then there is Us. The closest of groups. I used to have this group with my parents. I’m certainly forming it with a core group of friends. In this group, there are two splits. There’s the issues that arise from closeness and proximity. But the judgment level seems to be the lowest of all the groups. You’re my friend/spouse/lover/sister/kid/etc… so I overlook all that because I love you. Sometimes I want to strangle you, but not for any generalized criticism that I might make about anyone else.

 It’s why my parents blame John and Ro.. not me. Because if they had heard about this about any other person.. She [I] would be viewed as a horrible, horrible person who was trying to destroy a marriage… Instead, because I am Us, I must be the victim…

 It’s a weird idea for me… I knew that my rants didn’t apply to friends.. but taking the logical step and reversing it…

 It’s a good thought for a perfectionist who fights depression…
 


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Look up the Fundamental Attribution Error, it's pretty much what you've described.

That and the Monkey Sphere idea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

That is about the Us vs. Them.

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