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It's Rude to be Smart--Ranty McRanterson Rants.

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I got someone yelling at me the other day.  I insulted them deeply.

I told them I was smart.  this was in response to them snarking at me for being a know-it-all.  Yes, I know I can come off as a condescending prig... as long as I only do it when I don't mind pissing someone off--not inadvertently--it doesn't bother me much.  I'm smarter than most of the people I meet--or ever could meet.  There's nothing I can do about it.  I'm usually brought up short by realizing someone doesn't actually understand x and they're just not bright enough to grasp it! This is embarrassing when it happens. I usually assume that though I may be smart, I know smart people and I'm actually probably not saying anything that intellectually challenging. (Smart people! They're just like us! They wear pants! ... ok, sometimes... They knit sweaters! ... with Tim Burton characters on them ... They watch sports! ... ok, no, they don't... where was I? oh yeah!)

Usually, my challenge is to not treat everything I think, know, feel, and believe like smart-brain fodder. Other people's emotional responses aren't stupid. Relationship issues aren't always the result of not figuring it out. Right now, I'm knowing intellectually that I ought to be exercising, but I'm not. Attempting to think my way into shape is just not going to happen, but it's great procrastination. I'm even trying to be clever in this paragraph, whose entire message is "Clever is only good for so much, and that muchness is just a sliver of all the things I need to do."

But if I actually know something someone else doesn't?  To say, "The proof is here, so I cannot continue to respect your position in light of the facts," is apparently REALLY insulting.  After giving it a lot of thought, it doesn't seem reasonable that the insult is "There are other facts,"  "You don't know these other facts," "I do know other facts," or any combination of those.  The insult is "I cannot respect your position."

The reason is, of course, because I've challenged that person's status.  Specifically, I have said, "No, I will not cede the argument because I will not accept that you have a higher status/greater authority on the issue than I do." 

But when I look at it more, it seems that what we have (Internet we?  United States we?) is, in the name of individual, egalitarian fairness, letting everyone have a voice, shedding race, gender, color, etc. in the wonderful Internet--what we have is a deep-rooted denial of all status indicators.  In the voice of a U.S.-ian, "It's incredibly rude to remind me that we're not all actually equal."  In those old British books I used to read, it was also rude to talk about class, but that, as I saw it, was because if people acted as was appropriate to their status, then calling them on it wasn't necessary, so doing so was just "lording it about," especially if you were privileged enough to have a higher status.

Now.... now, something.  I have noticed pissing off a number of people, not by the content of the facts or opinions, but by the Perception (real or imagined) that I was not giving them their propers.  Maybe it's Rude to remind people of their status, or to claim a different status, or any status.  But the results of not recognizing a status conflict have frequently been much ruder and more destructive.

Other examples:  The person who dissed my offer of peer status, and unfriended me because I hadn't been studying this subject for 20 years like she has (no evidence of having actually done), or was it because I was the tricksy kind who wormed my way into someone else's confidence for personal gain, like she would never do (except that one time when she totally did and was on tv for it)?  I didn't offer disrespect, but I definitely got her pissed off that she wasn't respected ENOUGH.

I've also done it.  I have totally had people hollering at me lately that I wasn't allowing them their right to "free speech" in a "public space," because quite simply, On MY Facebook page/blog/other media, it is not public, and if you disrespect MY status, or I even think you do, I'll delete your comments, block all your comments, or outright ban you for rolling over on me.  I don't have a lot of things I totally control, so you challenge the things I DO totally control, then you have lost all privilege there.

Yes, the use of the word "privilege" is, in all cases in this entry, deliberate.

Let's just stop here and call it a work in progress.  
Current Mood:
bitchy bitchy
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On May 28th, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC), not_hothead_yet commented:
well.... I don't know the extent of your run-ins with other people but I do know that the few occasions I've watched you butt heads with other (including myself) you have occasionally insulted the hell out of someone by saying "you don't know as much as me on this subject" simply because that person did not agree with you on some conclusion. You were conflating information and knowledge with inference and logical conclusions. It IS possible for someone to know the same things as you and STILL draw a different conclusion or just decide to apply the conclusion in different ways.

To tell someone "you are ignorant" when your only basis is that they either 1) don't have the exact same knowledge as you 2) they don't parade their knowledge about from moment one 3) they assert their conclusion is as valid as yours

I wouldn't say that kind of setup is proper basis for the conclusion "you are ignorant of this subject whereas I am knowledgeable"
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On May 28th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC), scyllacat replied:
Nah, I see that. That's in that first paragraph where I say sometimes I do that _not_ deliberately. You're totally right, that's just how it happens when it happens. Although I will (of course) reserve the right to judge each individual instance. If I feel like someone DOESN'T have DATA that I do, I COULD be totally wrong, or maybe not. I don't think it matters if the message received (And I COULD say it wrong or maybe not) is "You're not as good as I am," instead of "wait, you're ignoring x fact, we're totally not going to come to the same conclusions if we don't agree what the facts are."

The occasion where it happened this time was one in which I carefully did Not tell this person he didn't know what he was talking about until it was plain after several rounds that he was not listening/reading anything said, and he was using status put-downs (naive, simplistic, brainwashed by the liberal media/government propaganda) to argue rather than actually arguing.

Secondly, he was doing this to someone else that I feel protective of, so I diverted his fire to me, and responded in kind to his next volley of "ivory tower intellectual" with "redneck who persists in proud ignorance."

Then, kaboom.
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On May 28th, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC), not_hothead_yet replied:
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On May 28th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC), not_hothead_yet replied:
ignorant rednecks who wanna play ad hominem are fair game. Carry on.
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On May 28th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC), momentai commented:
really not sure what you are trying to say. I thought I was with you, but you kept using parentheticals and jumping around with your point so now I am a bit lost.
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On May 29th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC), scyllacat replied:
See also, "A work in progress." I expect I'm going to have to process quite a few times before this turns into anything that communicates.

The main point is that we like to fuss and argue that "I'm right, that's why you're pissed off," when most of the pissing (on and off) I see, can actually be much more easily expressed as Transactional Analysis and status mismatches, with NO recourse whatever to correct and incorrect.
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On May 29th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC), polychrome_baby commented:
I mostly agree. I agree with nhy that you have the same tendency most have - that when one finds oneself in a difference of opinion, it can be difficult to not assume the other person would only agree if they understood all that one understands.

I generally try to go very discordian there, and opt out of the disagreement as a disagreement and assume all things are equal (equally true and/or equally false).

Or, I rage internally and tune out. If I can't see how a person could logically and rationally come to a different conclusion, it becomes quite easy to tune them out. It's harsh, but it's social survival. Not everyone needs to get along with everyone, which includes me. :)
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On May 29th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC), scyllacat replied:
...(W)hen one finds oneself in a difference of opinion, it can be difficult to not assume the other person would only agree if they understood all that one understands.
Right, and I frequently--when I get to that point--express it poorly. (Although I'm much better at NOT doing it now. I spent Years 'splaining to Mark, as you know... but yeah, common, and I'm prone to it.) The point of all this is that _Even_When_I'm_Wrong_, it's not being wrong, it's the dismissive quality of saying, "meh, you don't see, and I can't explain," that people take as a personal diss. (And now, hopefully, I can properly adjust that!) And in order to be sure I'm talking about Something, I've been looking at interactions, also, that do not involve me. It's harder to talk about them though because story is incomplete. Anyway, take-away is this: Status challenge is sufficient, in many cases, to explain the whole why of the argument, without anyone having to take facts (which are, IMHO, incapable of being offensive) into account at all.
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On May 29th, 2011 03:48 am (UTC), lihan161051 commented:
I trip over this myself. It's really hard to get my head around how people can not only lack understanding of crucial aspects of what they want to do (and what they called me for help on) but not even know enough to know what they don't know. My response to reaching the limits of my knowledge is to fill in the gaps in the knowledge I have, or if need be, go out and gain the knowledge I need. Finding my limits isn't a threat to my feelings of self-worth, it's a challenge to improve myself.

But for many people, it really does seem that they feel entitled to not be challenged or questioned, particularly if that entitlement is based on their own sense of class or social standing. The ones who are worst about this are very practiced at bullying others into accepting them as knowledgeable (or at least pretending to accept that simply to keep the peace), so by the time they get to someone who really does, in fact, understand what they're trying to deal with, they don't know how to reconcile that with their own image of themselves as "expert", particularly if they're caught in something absurdly stupid that they can no longer bluff their way out of.

It's easy to forget, if you're one of the few who do actually understand things. It's a completely alien way of thinking.

I have noticed that the people most eager to judge others on their class of behavior appeal to class in ways that put them at an advantage. I don't think it's you being rude. I think it's the other person playing a manipulation game designed to con you into feeling you're being rude. I've been on the receiving end of that game more times than I can count.

And it's one thing for someone to cry "freedom of speech" on their own page. When they barge into your page and abuse you in comment threads on your posts, that's something else again, and if you delete their comments and/or ban them from your page, you're absolutely within your rights to do so. It's no more censorship than it would be to respond to someone standing in your front yard with a megaphone insulting and slandering you by calling the police and having them arrested for trespassing.

So I completely agree with what you're saying, and while you may feel uncomfortable, that's more an artifact of an unfair situation than any fault of yours ..
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On May 29th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC), scyllacat replied:
Hullo! Long time no see! (perhaps if I'd posted)...

I think it's going to be informative because instead of having to do Exhaustive research to prove I'm right over and over, I can just decide on my desired relationship with the person (and those around them, such as the host of the webpage) and then work on whether I'm being insulting or not.

how this may actually help us get to facts may simply be in increasing the signal-to-noise ratio. Less fighting, more talking.

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On May 30th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC), lihan161051 replied:
Increasing signal to noise ratio is good. Always. ;)

(Yes, it's been a while. Very happy to see you posting again, missed you..)
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On May 30th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC), lihan161051 replied:
FYI .. my real name account on Facebook is no longer my real account, it's a decoy that I leave up for (largely right-wing Christian) family and high school acquaintances. I'll ping you from the real one in just a minute .. :)
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On May 29th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC), asbrand commented:
In this country, specifically, some folks fail to realize that "Freedom of Speech" is limited only to being free from the Government abridging your speech. Not individuals.

The government can't tell you to shut up. I sure as hell can... ;-)

I agree 100% with your post here.

Being in the computer industry, I oftentimes am boggled at the sheer stupidity of some people when it comes down to even the most simple things. It is as if they go out of their way to do the most illogical acts.

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On May 29th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC), gafennec commented:
*HUGS* Good to see a post from you even though it's one that is, well, a rant. :) And I agree with you that there is a big difference between privilege and a right.
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On May 29th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC), scyllacat replied:
there are lotsa things I been saying. I should remember to crosspost them here, I've just gotten out of the habit. *hugs*
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On May 29th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC), gafennec replied:
*HUGS* No fears. Just post when and can do.
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On May 30th, 2011 05:04 am (UTC), standp commented:
This totally makes me want to be your facebook friend.
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On June 21st, 2011 05:12 am (UTC), Deb Moore commented:
Oh, tell me about it.
Try being an English teacher in a world of grammartards.
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