The Rage of the Common Man


What the hell is it that makes us feel superior to others? Oh, come on, I know there’s superiority complexes lurking in all of us, like tiny little dark spots on the insides of our eyelids; we feel superior to the kids at the playground or the busdriver on the way to work or the cleaning crew sweeping our stairway just like we feel superior to friends and family in every capacity and in every way imaginable, whether we mean to or not. There’s that smugness in all of us when knowing more than someone else and the arrogance that comes with it when pointing this knowledge out to them, correcting them, even though we may laugh with them and they with us at their mistake it doesn’t change the fact that the smugness is there – otherwise there would have been no need to show off and offer up a correction in the first place. True?

Damn straight.

We all have it, and yet I have zero-to-no tolerence for it. I should feel empathy for the wrong-doer, I should understand where it comes from since I’m sure I do it as well, but I don’t have any empathy. And do you know why I don’t? Because there is a difference between stating your opinion and issuing a correction. I believe I am more opinionated than I am corrective . (Well, I’d like to believe it.)

Opinion: a subjective statement or thought about an issue or topic, [it] is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. (Wikipedia)

Correction:  1)   the act or process of correcting   2)  something offered or substituted for an error; an improvement. (dictionary.com)

We can debate the “improvement” part, but still, “substituted for an error” I’ll buy.

See, I’ll have a decided opinion about something even though it may not always be based on fact and I may change my mind when argued with – it’s been known to happen – but at least I’ll admit defeat and not push my point until there’s the smell of blood in the air.

I’ll correct you when your opinion difers from mine, and you seem to think it doesn’t: i.e. to a friend saying “Everyone I know adores Eddie the Midnight Stalker, he’s the most wonderful of the wonders of the world.” I would say “No, I dislike Eddie the Midnight Stalker mostly because he’s a midnight freaking stalker and the fact that you would lump me into a category of people who thinks he’s any kind of wonderful appalls me to the very core.”

I might also correct you when the point you’re trying to make simply wouldn’t cut through anything because it’s dull as duck-fuck: i.e. to “I think every human on the planet is worth more than an animal, except maybe homosexuals because, well, ew.” I would say “Wow, you’re a huge, red-painted warning sign for what’s wrong with this world, ain’t ya? Explain to me about the animals again.” (The following discussion would take up too much space in this article and so I’m foregoing it – a trasncript of it will be up shortly under the title Bigotry and Credibility: Never the Twain Shall Meet.)

But it’s the very nature of the correctional behavior that irks me, because whenever I’m corrected I can’t help but think to myself “Oh, so you think you’re smarter than me, do you?”, even when the correction is clearly harmless and possibly well-meant. But I’m not going to focus on those well-meaning corrections now, because I’m not so very irked by them: they’re usually relatively easy to spot; instead I’m going to enter a rant regarding the correctional behavior which is never well-meant, and which is, to some extent, even sneaky in its deplorably manipulative and off-handed way of being delivered. 

First example: Some people dive into the middle of a story you’re sharing, or a sentence you’re speaking and simply have to interrupt you to smugly state that you’re wrong! Hah! And you can tell that they’re doing it because they enjoy it, you can tell that they are, and you think what is wrong with you that you wouldn’t even let me get to the end of my story/sentence/long-winded joke? And you laugh it off, shrugging, all the while your insides are boiling and your head feels as though its about the size of a very hot watermelon and you think you may very well explode the insides of your brain on everyone near you any second. Still, you laugh and shrug. We’re all actors, and usually quite brilliant ones at that. Tsk, tsk.

Second example: When a stranger is trying to tell you how to do your job, or entering your sphere like a cloud of negativity about to rain crap all over your day, that’s what I would call an In-Yo-Face. I mean, they remark with some superior air of amusement that – if you did it this way, instead of that – it might just work a little better and wouldn’t you agree? (FYI: No, I would not.)

Working as a cashier you don’t just get the cloud raining its crap regarding your work, but everyone elses as well. You’re a freaking Complaints Box at the end of their long, arduous journey throughout the store and when they see you, their cloud swells, and you can smell it coming a mile away. I’m not talking about the people who will tell you something in a friendly manner, knowing it’s really not your fault and that the responsibility cannot be placed squarely on your shoulders here – I’m talking about the people who turn on their inner Self-Righteous Monster and who look as though they just might sucker-punch you across the jaw if you don’t agree with them that they’re right, even when you know for a fact that they’re wrong.

Third example: There is a small pool of people who nag and complain just for the sake of it. I have sympathy for the people who are clearly unhappy and lonely (I’ve seen my fair share), but what in the name of Ghandi makes people practically smile when they get to tell you that something you’ve done, or something in your work-place, is a matter? The smugness comes into play even before they open their mouths by the way their eyes twinkle, as though the anticipation has brought on a sudden fever, and they’re half-smiling as they step up to you and you just think ohhh fuuuuuck youuuuu, but still you smile and nod and comply. I hate retail. (Apologies to anyone working in this field, I have total respect for you, you know I do – I’ve been and done, for goodness sakes.)

Fourth example: Strangers I can contend with, but friends who try to manipulate you are not friends. These people will remark on something that is seemingly fleety – like how uncomfortable they think a chair without a cushion is – and then you realize that none of your lawn furniture have cushions. (No, completely made up example, but something similar has happened to yours truly.) They may also make such comments about a certain type of dress, hairstyle, scent, whatever, and you come to the conclusion that it can be easily traced back to something having to do with you.

I’m not at all sure of where this sneakiness comes from, if these people are insecure and must point out flaws to try and distract you from picking up on theirs, or if they are simply mean-spirited and completely aware of their attempt at manipulation, planting little mental bombs in your mind that don’t go off until they’ve already left and you think what the hell was that all about?

Fifth example: is when a friend will not be sneaky about it, but will actually say things to your face that makes you wonder what you ever did to them to deserve it. Most of us have been there, unfortunately, lucky you few that haven’t.

Of course, anytime anyone you know says something hurtful or seemingly spiteful it’s always easy to get fired up, but it’s also easy to try and fix it by addressing it. Well, sort of easy – some people don’t want to hear that what they said or did hurt you and all you will get reflected back at you is “Well, you said this and this and that’s why!” blaming you entirely, which is an admission all of its own, but you just want to reach out and shake them and tell them to GROW THE HELL UP already. Yeah. It’s frustrating.

On the flipside, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the annoying asshole that rally everyone up, push their buttons and deserve a good shake and slap across the cheek. I guess what we all need is to not feel such contentment in the smugness, and to try, for just a moment, to see things from the other’s perspective. You know, we’re all assholes to someone, so it’s better to figure out who your real friends are and hopefully be seen as a butt-crack or a G-spot or possibly even the half-moon of a smile.

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~ by mescribe on July 26, 2010.

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