Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review of Restless Ranting

While highly emotional, I am in general a pretty easy going person. At least, outwardly. My perfectionist tendencies have a habit of making the most minor of actions rub me the wrong way but it is always a goal of mine to let it go. I have a hard time following my own good advice rather frequently but it's the effort that counts.

Either way, I'm not about to flip the handle on someone because they didn't take care of their dish. Eight years ago? I'd freak out over almost literally anything. I was a very angry, high-strung teenager. Whether through the influence of years of smoking weed or my mother's constantly calm demeanor (most likely a bit of column A and a bit of column B), I've gotten much better about not sweating the small stuff. Despite years of practice, however, there are some behaviors and attitudes that drive me up the fucking wall.

For fun and ease of reading, I will present these particular pet peeves as a list.

1. Willful Ignorance

While this may seem like good old fashioned stupidity, willful ignorance denotes a particular brand of stupid. These are the humans who have all the resources and the capability to educate themselves on whatever matter you may be unfortunate enough to find yourself in a discussion with them regarding (common topics being abortion, raising the minimum wage, the cost of secondary education, etc), yet choose not to learn a single thing about it. Or, even worse, read only the information supporting the view they already have. They're relatively intelligent, have access to the Internet or even news, but for some reason unknown to you, they prefer to spout complete and utter nonsense instead of consulting facts. Generally, I recommend avoiding these people at all costs. The majority of them, in my experience, make the conscious choice to not care because it either doesn't affect them or they like to be a shithead. Either way, trying to talk sense into a willfully ignorant person is fruitless.

2. "You're too young to understand!"

I'm only twenty-something! I can't possibly comprehend the sociological impact of The Beatles! I have no idea what a scandal Elvis' dancing was! There's no way I can grasp how revolutionary "I Love Lucy" was back then!

Let's start by picking apart the concept of "understanding". There are two ways one understands something - intellectually and emotionally. Thomas, Shirley and Alice are asked if they understand starvation.

Thomas doesn't know what that means because he's three and not only is that word too big for him but he is always well fed. He does not understand starvation intellectually or emotionally.

Shirley knows the meaning of the word starvation - to be in dire need of food - but has never been more than hungry in her life. She understands what starvation means intellectually but not emotionally.

Alice used to be homeless. She'd go without food for days, having to beg for it when she could work up the strength. She understands starvation on both an intellectual level and emotional level.

See the difference? When speaking in terms of comprehension, there are different levels. Intellectually, I understand The Beatles, Elvis and "I Love Lucy". Emotionally, I may not necessarily know exactly what it was like since I did not live through all that but unlike starvation, there are plenty of cultural phenomenon that compare to scandalous pelvic thrusts or women in media.

When it comes right down to it, though, completely dismissing my ideas or opinions based on my age doesn't just irritate me, it deprives you of what could have been valid input.

3. Thoughtless Guests

Dropping by unannounced? Leaving your garbage scattered throughout my house? Spilling drinks and not bothering to wipe it up? These are just a few examples of things that people occasionally do that make me want to strangle them. In the spirit of being a good host, however, I offer food even when I can barely afford it myself and follow people around with paper towels.

Part of the reason why these things probably bother me more than the average bear is probably because at least nine times out of ten, hangouts occurs at my house. Maybe if once in a while someone invited me over to their place I would be a little more lenient about messes. At the same time, though, having suffered the cleanup of a hundred parties while hungover the next morning, I feel as if this makes me generally a little more mindful of the mess I'm leaving behind.

4. Nails on Teeth

Click, click, click. This isn't really your fault - I have a few bad habits of my own - but I can. Not. Stand. The sound of nails on teeth. Oddly, I bite my own nails when stressed and the sound doesn't bother me then (though it being my own mouth makes it sound different then when someone else does it near me), yet if anyone chews on their nails within earshot of me my hair stands up on end and I can't suppress a shudder.

This is most likely because my mother used to sit on the toilet, door open, lights out with only the glow of her cigarette illuminating the space, with the constant click, click, click lofting out of the bathroom whenever she was stressed out. Like I said, not your fault. I just have a bad association with this. If I ever make a gagging sound and ask you to take your fingers out of your mouth, know that it's not really you. It's me.

5.  Assuming Based on Stereotypes

Delivering wood is physical labor, therefor a man must be the one who's going to do it. Blondes are ditzy and flaky, you must not be very intelligent. You wear makeup, that must mean you're shallow and narcissistic. Twenty-somethings don't understand real stress.

The above and many more are examples of things I see and hear people assuming and it drives me absolutely wild. Stereotypes are almost like a leftover survival instinct. "This bug is yellow, yellow bugs are bad. This smell is sweet, sweet smells are good." But guess what? It's 2014. Survival means something entirely different than it did when it was necessary to group things together in order to see tomorrow.

I realize now that "you're too young to understand" is basically a subcategory of this but what I really mean by assuming based on stereotypes is not realizing each person is unique and has value. I don't care if we're talking about the old, sexist guy who makes off color comments when you wear a skirt to work or the judgmental mother who firmly leads her pointing children away from you because your bright hair and piercings are scary. Even those people are important and are holding on to a piece of knowledge that you do not yet possess.

While it's insanely difficult to remember that everyone has value when grimacing through some dude calling you "darlin'" after every sentence or a woman looks down her nose at you, it's important to try. And like they always say, it's the effort that counts.

I began writing this post a few months ago. I'm not usually into writing something like this that seems kind of pointless and negative but perhaps it will spur contemplation. That's the best case scenario. Worst case scenario, people around me remember that the sound of teeth and nails together makes my skin crawl. Truth be told, other than the effort it took to write this, the outcome seems pretty win/win.

Lists are fun! I really like to make them! I can do much better than this! Leave a suggestion in the comments for a list I should make. Or, read this and say nothing and leave me with a ton of pageviews and no idea who on earth is reading this blog. The choice is yours. I'd really prefer you followed the first option, however.

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