Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You Know What Really Irks Me?

  1. When people misconstrue things that I write in plain English on this blog.
  2. When people are entirely dismissive of things that I think/say, a process which apparently is enabled by #1.

If you're going to bitch about what I write on the blog, at least have the decency first to read it and then to engage with what I have written. That's totally not too much to ask.


Dean Dad said...

Describing the underlying assumptions of a deeply personal essay as "a bunch of crap" isn't dismissive? Please.

I feel misread, too. Having been accused, variously, of being 'creepy,' 'self-satisfied,' and 'smug,' I'll try again.

There's an old lyric that says that you don't know what love is until you learn the meaning of the blues. It's possible -- just possible -- that some of us take the experience of ostracism in high school (which was very real, thank you very much) with us. It becomes formative, and colors how we treat other people, including those with whom we have relationships. On the bad side, it can lead to clinginess. On the good side, with maturity, it can lead to a genuine appreciation.

I've noticed that some people who have always been attractive take relationships somewhat for granted. Some don't, of course, and that's great.

I think some of the charged emotion in this exchange comes from wildly different life experiences. The blithe equation of 'nice guy' with 'manipulative creep' sounds to me like just another salvo in the never-ending attacks on us quiet types. I made it through the worst of that, and feel no need to re-live it. You probably didn't mean it as hostile, and I can respect that. But the ostracism was real, and its effects over the long term aren't all bad.

I'm glad that you didn't experience pariah status -- I don't recommend it to anybody. But to deny its existence, or to backhandedly reinforce it, strikes me as out of bounds.

Dr. Crazy said...

Please review what I wrote. Did I ever use the words "creepy," "self-satisfied," or "smug"? No, I didn't. Did I veer into a discussion as "nice guys" as manipulative? No, I didn't. If you look over what I wrote, I was genuinely questioning whether I wasn't getting what you were writing about. I also expressed discomfort about and interrogated the characterization of nerds vs. cool guys in your post because it seems to set up a false binary between the two, with all nerds as good and all cool guys as evil. This characterization in your post seems to be based on the logical fallacy that because you were a nerd and now you are this great husband that all nerds make great husbands, and, conversely, non-nerds are a bunch of assholes who have kids out of wedlock or something. I don't think that is a misreading. If it is, then please correct me.

But don't construct yourself as some kind of a victim who I'm abusing for being a nerd. I wasn't, I haven't, and I'm not. Nor did I deny your experience nor did I reinforce such ostracism as appropriate or good. In fact, I AGREED WITH YOUR GRAND THEORY OF NERDINESS!

I could go on, but I think that pretty much covers the essential points.

Wildfell said...

What on earth...

"I've been hurt, therefore when my buttons are pushed, I should get to lash out irrationally, claim you've said things you haven't, and you should just..." What? Send cookies?

Dean Dad, you've got quite a history of posts advising against the very sort of behavior you're displaying on this one. What gives?

Anonymous said...

seriously, what the hell is going on here?

I'm sensing that the crux of the issue is that Dr. Crazy exempted herself from nerdiness. In so doing, DD feels she forfeited her right to critique the discussion because she doesn't know what it is to be a high school nerd and experience that ostracism.

The thing is, as any good academic or intellectual, Dr. Crazy is subjecting the narrative to a level of analysis that demonstrates how seriously she takes the subject.

She was adding another voice, her experience. And more to the point, I think what Dr. Crazy and others are hedging at is the incorporation of a narrative out of a high school movie: the popular kids are rich, mean, shallow, morally reprehensible; the uncool kids are smart, capable, kind and will grow up to be better people. That seems to be the way some people interpret their experience. That may be the story they tell themselves. That doesn't mean it's so. Or that it's an especially helpful way to think about one's peers.

adjunct whore said...

i cannot say very much since i would not want to be mean or rude, but dean dad's response doesn't surprise me at all....this seems always just beneath the surface of much of his posts.

i think you handled it, dr. crazy, quite well. bravo.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

OMG, stupid blogger at my stupid comment AGAIN.

Okay, my points if I can remember them: there seems to be a "my victimhood was worse than your victimhood" thing going on here, and an assumption that only those who were ostracized, or ostracized in a way that someone like Dean Dad recognizes as ostracism, can actually comment on the subject. I thought we were academics who could subject all kinds of subjects to analysis regardless of our own experiences? The post original post may have been "deeply personal" (though honestly I didn't read it that way), but it laid out an argument and it shouldn't be surprising that academic-type readers may critique that argument.

There also seem to be elisions between all kinds of different groups going on here. "Nerds" and "nice guys" and "quiet types" are NOT all the same thing. The bit about equating nice guys with manipulative creeps? No, no one's doing that. There are lots and lots of nice guys out there. Many women in fact love the nice guys. But when someone explains their self-perceived failure with women as a function of being a nice guy and women don't like nice guys, that's not being nice (presumably the definition of a nice guy), that's being creepy and misogynistic. Nor is this an attack on "quiet types," because again, "quiet types" are not synonymous with "nerds" or "nice guys." I hope this doesn't sound too snarky because I mean it respectfully, but I'd really like to see a definition of these groups that doesn't boil down to Dean Dad's self-perception.

I'm also a little disturbed by: I've noticed that some people who have always been attractive take relationships somewhat for granted. Some don't, of course, and that's great. Who gets to decide who has "always been attractive"? Can you meet a grown adult and know that they have "always" been attractive? Hell, no! Even the people one goes through elementary/secondary school with, it's not possible to characterize them as having "always" been attractive. I don't know ANYONE, even the most conventionally beautiful person, who has "always" FELT attractive, and if you don't feel attractive, how other people perceive you doesn't count for squat. Maybe someone who looks beautiful has been told their entire life that they're not good enough - how on earth can you tell that from observing their physical appearance? It seems like a really unhelpful way to categorize people.

Yes, there is a kind of social economy of beauty, I'm not denying that. But there are a lot of other things going on.

I suspect this is a fairly incoherent comment, for which I apologize. But I do think there are a lot of unexamined assumptions in the original post under discussion.

adjunct whore said...

nope, i think you nailed lots on the head, new kid.

David said...

In general this seems to be one of those weird blogworld farts, but I actually think if you read Dr. Crazy's response along with some of the comments by others I can see a little bit where DD is coming from.

Obviously this isn't Dr. Crazy's fault, but the comments that were in the post did recast it in a more negative fashion than Crazy's own comments.

As a long time and very proud nerd, I think both sides are right, but the hyperwhiteness is just this side of silliness. In my experience, nerd-y girls definitely are repulsed by the term far more than guys. Girls do seem to latch onto the geek moniker.