I think the phrase “hair-trigger” is funny. Not because hair-triggers are funny, but because of what it suggests about the person (when it is applied to a person, that is — when it is applied to a machine, my thinking is “crappy calibration” [which might still be appropriate to people, now that I think about it]).

When people are known as being on hair-triggers, it’s a way of describing them as volatile, ready to explode, right on the edge, and so forth.

Thinking about hair-triggers made me wonder about pressure in general, and how it manifests in people. More particularly, in what direction people are feeling pressured.

I’ve met a lot of folks who seem to — when tapped just the right way — fire off in some sort of defensive fashion. It’s as if they are already being pressed to be beastly, but are only waiting for one or more predetermined cues. If any of those cues fire off, they launch the tactical strike that’s been humming in the hangar. Doesn’t even matter the reasons — the strike is ordered and executed. In seconds, the brain, like some sort of stunned diplomat, hastily constructs a reason from available data, confabulating where necessary, ignoring data if inconvenient, and so forth.

There’s just no rationalizing with this sort of mentality. It took me a long time to realize this. What took me so long to understand was that the cause and effect were reversed. There was a defensive strike launched, so there must be a reason, and if the obvious reasons aren’t making sense, then there must be some other reason not yet understood. If no one is accepting the reasons, then they must be part of the reason. The logic is completely backwards, and freakishly bulletproof. About the only thing one can do in the presence of such pressure is to either leave, or develop a fondness for stepping on eggshells, with occasional storms.

Now, me, personally, I think it would be great if the whole hair-trigger phenomenon operated in the other direction, too. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if someone was hair-trigger with their compliments? Or hair-trigger with helping others? Or hair-trigger with smiles and friendly greetings? Someone who has lots of neat, pleasurable stuff, good news, happy tidings, playfulness, smiles, laughter, and so forth, just waiting for an excuse to launch.

“Watch out — that person’s got a hair-trigger toward basic human decency.”

I think that would be a neat counterbalance to the more common hair-triggers.

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