Malynnda Littky-Porath

Truly neutral

My life is all about personality quizzes. A quiz told me I should look into Judaism, two quizzes told me when I was ready to get married (note to self, I hope Vogue is more accurate than Seventeen), and another quiz told me which state I should be living in, if I were living in America, which I’m not, and if denial were applying for statehood, which it isn’t.

The last quiz I took told me that, when it comes to character alignment, I am a true neutral. Alignments were created as a tool (some say crutch) for people into roleplaying games. It is a guide to how characters will react when faced with a decision, and is plotted along an axis of good versus evil, and lawful versus chaotic.

According to TVTropes, true neutrals are not selfless enough to be Good, but not exploitative enough to be Evil; they’re not rule-abiding enough to be Lawful, but not arbitrary enough to be Chaotic. In essence, people like me fit into two camps: those who crave balance, and those who just don’t care.

I’ve always been partial to balance, so I’d like to think that’s why my personality fits with this alignment, although there is probably a healthy dose of not caring that much, as well. But when your country is at war, and your phone is sounding a 15 second countdown alarm every few minutes in solidarity with the communities of Sderot and the towns near the border with Gaza (not to mention a sprinkling of alarms for your own town), it’s hard not to take a side. And that’s when things get tricky.

As a true neutral, I have friends from across the political spectrum, and the advent of Facebook, combined with my complete disregard for personal privacy settings (Facebook, you’re not gonna learn anything about me that I’m not already spilling to the world, hon) makes for some epic collisions with conversational destiny.

Sometimes I can see the confrontation coming as soon as a post appears on my timeline. For example, 90 percent of posts that begin with “Those (insert nouns, pronouns, expletives)” are going to lead to an argument. It’s the ultimate written Rorschach test, and your response reveals to the world who you want to be, perhaps even more than it shows who you are. Do you agree with an obvious oversimplification, rebut with an equally vapid conclusion, attempt a meaningful discussion based merely on facts, or do you try to reach an emotional détente, with no concern as to reaching an agreement between sides? I have friends who fall predictably, almost inexorably, into each of these groups.

But occasionally, even I am blind-sided by a fight that seems to come out of nowhere. This morning, my husband got mad at me, saying he found jokes about the war distasteful, because it is “no laughing matter”. This is coming from a man with a sense of decorum so low, that when a heavily pregnant friend from South Africa tried to find a Passover cleaner, he suggested that she could probably handle it, just like Blacks under apartheid would’ve had to. I never would have guessed that Benji Lovitt would be the time bomb to set him off.

Personally, I’m glad for the chance to hear different viewpoints, and I do frequently learn a lesson from people whom I would normally write off completely. It is a privilege to live in a democracy filled with people of strong, if opposing, ethical codes. But every now and then, even us true neutrals lose our patience, and wonder exactly what some people are trying to gain by being so argumentative, condescending, paranoid, or, in a few cases, psychotic. And that’s why I have come up with the following Facebook serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the friends I cannot change,
The courage to defriend those who are truly crazy,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

And maybe we can all take the same 15 second warning giving to the residents of Sderot and use it to think before we post, so we can decide if what we’re saying makes the world a better place, or just causes another explosion.

About the Author
Malynnda Littky made aliyah to Israel with her family in 2007 from Oak Park, Michigan. Her recent stay in Paris, enjoying both medical tourism and her new status as the trophy wife of a research economist, has renewed her love for Israel, despite arriving just in time to enjoy several weeks of lockdown.