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Being human complicates matters - Input Junkie
May 24th, 2013
10:12 am


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Being human complicates matters

Float text: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can make me think I deserve it."

This is brilliant.

Two other points about the usual "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me": One is that it's an unreasonable standard. The vast majority of people are vulnerable to each other. And I'm not sure living with unshameable people would be an improvement.

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(9 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:May 24th, 2013 04:21 pm (UTC)
I think on this one I'm going with Aristotle and his concept of the "great-souled man": A virtuous person is pleased with praise from good and wise people, but utterly indifferent to praise—or blame—from small-minded people or on trivial grounds. Other people's judgments can be a useful tool in attaining your own goal of leading a worthwhile life, but only if they're a properly calibrated instrument; and pursuing other people's good opinion for its own sake is mistaking the means for the end.

After all, you can see plenty of examples of people doing foolish or even monstrous things rather than risk standing apart from other people's opinions, too.
Date:May 25th, 2013 07:14 am (UTC)
There's a lot more small minded people than "great souled men." Too bad so many small minded people have sticks and stones.
[User Picture]
Date:May 25th, 2013 12:50 pm (UTC)
No one disputes that the sticks and stones are a problem. But prudent caution about the physical danger of mobs doesn't require judging yourself by the standards of the mobs.
Date:May 27th, 2013 11:48 pm (UTC)
very true
[User Picture]
Date:May 24th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
Ah -- sticks and stones -- the line that indicates you are indifferent to suffering.
Date:May 25th, 2013 07:13 am (UTC)
Over the years, I've noticed that compliments are often associated with softening me up for rejection or a favor, while insults are usually attempts to put me "in my place" or inspired by jealousy or a result of their inability to make a rational political argument. So when I'm insulted, I know how to tell with it. It's compliments that worry me.
[User Picture]
Date:May 25th, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC)
There are far too many people who want to undermine free speech by equating words with injury. (I'm not saying you're one of them.)

What an insult does to me depends on several things: whether I think it makes a valid point, what I think of the person saying it, and whether I expect the insult to lead to actions that may harm me. If an insult comes from a jerk, I may take it as a compliment. There's one person whose insults I take as a reflection of her mood swings, and I feel sorry for her.

Sticks and stones cause damage regardless of what I think of them.
Date:June 14th, 2013 06:47 pm (UTC)

differences between "hurtful" and "meant to hurt"

People can be emotionally pained by statements of fact, such as, "Your privilege makes your diagnosis of 'what's wrong with those oppressed people' suspect and unwanted in this space." But the intent is to protect the space for the people who need it, not to make the intruder feel bad; it's not about them.

Words spoken to hurt are another thing. They can be an individual injury, or they can team up with an aspect of the culture and borrow that power. "Cracker" as an insult just doesn't have the force behind it that the N-word does.

The thing is, you can reject any person's hurtful words on the basis of their being small-minded, untruthful, or merely incorrect. But if hurtful words are all you hear, where is your sense of self supposed to come from? And if you're stuck with a group of people who are regularly attempting to hurt your feelings, you can dispute almost everything they say, but it's hard to argue with "Nobody likes you."
[User Picture]
Date:June 15th, 2013 12:56 am (UTC)

Re: differences between "hurtful" and "meant to hurt"

Why did you show up to tell me that?
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