Thursday, February 23, 2006

RANT: Think before you speak.

Ok, this has been bugging me for some time now. It may be construed over the course of this rant that I cannot take criticism…and that I hate people who point out things that are wrong. But, you will be mistaken, as I take all criticism to heart (maybe a bit too much) and I reflect on the reasons why someone pointed out something to me. All criticism is good criticism, as long as you know how to say it.

Now, when someone points something out that is askew to their own notions, you cannot help to be thrown off. This isn’t exactly criticism; it’s more like someone who thinks that their way of thinking is superior to your own. Keep that shit to yourself. I mean, come on, how hard can it be? Being of Asian-descent, I’ve been raised to keep my comments to myself and act nicely…all the time. Be polite. Be kind. Be generous. Don’t look at people in the eye. (there are extremes to this, which will not be discussed here.) Yes, that personality goes quite well with my soft-spoken nature; it might not go well with yours. You could argue that by keeping these thoughts to yourself make you look dark and reserved; even malicious. People will constantly be analyzing what you say…if you have a deeper meaning underneath the premium overt façade that they see everyday. And to be honest, well, maybe you should do that all the time. Maybe then you’ll choose your words more carefully or you’ll try to approach a conversation from a different perspective. Stop being self-centered and try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Have some empathy. Will he/she be offended? How might he take this, how might I take this if it was said to me?

Be careful when choosing your diction. There are slight nuances that people inadvertently show over the time that you interact with them. See if you can pinpoint and try to act in-sync with these idiosyncrasies. Believe me; it’s worked every time I’ve done it. Now, the hard part to detecting these behavioral traits is when that person is of a different culture. It’s kind of easy when dealing with people who come from the United States. But it still presents a whole new set of obstacles that you need to pick apart one-by-one.

Being “American” is such an ambiguous term. I’m white. I call myself American. I’m black. I call myself American. I’m Chinese. I call myself American. I’m from Germany, but I recently received American citizenship. I call myself American. I’m from India, yet I’ve been teaching here at MIT for over 20 years now, and even if I still haven’t applied for citizenship yet, I still call myself American. Being American does not have to do with skin color; it doesn’t have to do with race, gender, or anything. If you believe you are American, you are American. That’s the beauty of it. As testament to this just check out the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics: check out the United States team…the “American” team. Different races, different colors, people who just got their citizenship, etc. It’s a melting pot; and using it irreverently as comparing an American to an African just goes against the grain of society. It irks me every time someone uses the term in this way. Fuck you for labeling me because of my race. I’m just as American as you. You can attach little tags like “Asian-American” or “Filipino-American” to me if that makes you feel better. But the word is still there. I am American. This is hard to sense from a person. Especially if you are dealing with international people. Be accepting!

Another obstacle when dealing with someone on the domestic level is to acknowledge the kinds of environments they have lived in. People can be from the rural backalleys, suburbs, towns, cities, metropolises, and so much more. Growing up in each of these places gives you a unique perspective and outlook on the world. However, that doesn’t mean that if you grew up being indifferent to types of people you shouldn’t have to learn to adapt to how society works. I’m talking about political corrected-ness. It wouldn’t hurt to try and learn how society works as a whole. Don’t be ignorant. I’m not one to talk about “being PC.” I have done my fair share of stuff I am horribly ashamed of, but at least I acknowledge it as a problem and not go on being adamant about my horrid ways. (Yeah, that’s another thing. Being stubborn annoys me…but that’s another rant.)

Humor. You can get me to laugh easily. I’m one of those people who finds every little subtle thing funny. I think that contributes to my overall jovial inner-nature sometimes. Even if I may not look it on the outside; inside, I could be bursting out in laughter. I have no problem with criticism meant in a funny way. Sometimes, however, the use of the phrase “I’m just kidding” has a lot gravity every time it’s used. I think that phrase is something of a tool; a cop-out, if you will. You say something snide or derogatory. Wait for the person’s reaction. Then you say, “haha…just kidding!” Well, now that you’ve pointed it out, fool, I guess that’s how you truly feel. You just pointed out to me the kinds of things you think of inside of your head. Now I have this sense of paranoia and awareness. Each successive time I do something (that you said “Just kidding!” to, in an earlier occurrence) that should get a “J/K” from you, yet you don’t say it, wow, that’s a horrible feeling to have. Maybe you aren’t kidding. Maybe you are! Who knows? You know. I certainly don’t. But what good does that do to the people around you? Nothing, except place them in a constant mindset of fear. There are ways of being blunt that are unoffensive. But saying stuff to someone like, "you are fat kthx lose weight nau...justkidding!" is a condescendingly way of being blunt; and is not tolerated by me. First of all, you imply that this person is overweight. Second, you imply that this person is doing nothing to solve this problem (if it even is a problem to that person.) Judging from what I've seen, heard, and/or experienced throughout my life, when someone tells you that you're doing nothing about a problem, it stings. Thus, as a friend pointed out to me, being helpfully blunt is an art form. I could list several examples from high school and maybe even some from college, but I won’t. You know who you are.

Just be careful of what you say. That’s all I’m saying. Don’t be an idiot and blurt out stupid things. I sometimes speak out of line, and I’m not picking on anyone in this rant. Use common sense. I'm surprised at how many people lack this essential skill. And take this for what it is: a simple rant.


Anonymous Slackmasta-al said...

OMG im not wearing any pants and i think you're fat! DATAMINING j/k!

9:32 AM  

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