Yes, I’m Teaching My Son the Power of “No”

The Blog Sniper (or, The Classic Case of the Compliment Intertwined with Condescending Criticism)

Um… thanks?

I’m convinced there are certain people in the world who truly can not (or will not) simply compliment another person- they feel they are doing the person a favor by also incorporating some sort of condescending criticism which picks at a minor detail to negate the positive vibes of the compliment itself.  Sort of like the way certain people can not (or will not) truly apologize, by saying something lame like this: “Well if I did something to hurt your feelings I’m sorry…”  That kind of apology translates as “I’m sorry you’re such a baby and sorry that you’re trying to make me look like the bad guy.”

Just last week when I published What Not to Say If You Want People to Like You 101, one of the points I touched on was “Knowing How to Actually Compliment Someone”.  Then ironically yesterday a random stranger acted out exactly what I had just mocked a few days before.  Click here (healthnutshell: Ketchup Vs. Mustard) to read a post I wrote which contrasts the types of food that ketchup and mustard are generally paired with.

In case you didn’t click on the link and haven’t read the comment I’m referring to, here it is again: Bahaha… you make a good point, but I doubt that by avoiding ketchup, you have succeeded in eating healthily. XD This is good stuff to know, but I also feel that it is a little fanatical. Thanks for the information, though!”

Here’s a breakdown of that comment:

“Bahaha”- A condescending laugh which translates as “that’s ridiculous”.

“You make a good point.”- An honest compliment.

“But I doubt that by avoiding ketchup, you have succeeded in eating healthily.” – A correction of my quirky lifestyle.  Totally missing the point, since I didn’t write the post in a tone of absolutes: “Because ketchup, in most cases, is paired with unhealthy foods that are either processed or fried.” Throughout the post I downgrade ketchup, yes, but I never say I refuse to eat it or that I don’t ever eat it.  Nor did I say that I am trying to eat healthy by simply avoiding ketchup.  Instead, I said: “So my general rule of thumb is, I stay away from foods that are enhanced by ketchup.”

“XD”- A slang symbol meaning “big smile”, an attempt to lighten the mood back.

“This is good stuff to know…” Another compliment.

“But I also feel it is a little fanatical.” – A call to put me on the defense.  Really?  I’m a fanatic just because I made an observation that typically ketchup is a condiment for less healthy foods, namely processed and fried?

“Thanks for the information…”– A expression of gratefulness.

“…though.”- In other words, “Thanks for the info, despite how laughable most of it was.”

Looking through each line of the comment, it is interesting the way this reader used the pattern “negative, positive, negative, positive…”  In fact, this may be the most perfect example I’ve ever seen of the classic case of the compliment intertwined with criticism.  That takes talent.

I literally laughed out loud when I read the comment.  Because it’s so tacky.  I think, “Make up your mind, either insult me, or compliment me, but don’t do both at the same time.  Commit.”  I totally respect someone’s opinion if they truly disagree with mine and don’t have a subtle motive to undermine my efforts.  But they have to be cool about it.  Etiquette still exists.

Otherwise, like in this case, it just becomes a joke to me.

But it’s evident from that comment that the person probably makes a daily habit of correcting everyone else, likely with a sarcastic tone, in an subconscious effort to feel in control.  Similar to the case of Some People Like Being Offended and/or Taking Advantage…

Be excellent to each other.

This event also reminds me of an excerpt of Christian Lander’s book, Stuff White People Like.  He is explaining that some white people let a little bit of positive feedback go to their heads too easily and that it eventually can get out of hand.  Therefore, he gives this advice to prevent that from happening:

“Do not dole out your praise like pinata candy… it is best to tease them with little bits of praise, balanced with a few barbs: ‘I have to hand it to you for putting KRS-One on that party mix.  I mean, you went with a pretty well-known song, but still, good job'”.

It’s just funny that in the Internet world it’s somehow more acceptable to go around criticizing people for the sake of trying to sound smarter than someone else who was creative enough to invent.  But I guess with the wave of online writers come just as many online critics.  And my guess is that the critics aren’t themselves inventing any original content- just looking to start a sophisticated food fight about ketchup and mustard.

I say let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”.  And when possible, find ways to truly compliment people, not find perceived fault in their creativity.  There’s not enough of sincere complimenting going on in the world.  Especially when “compliments intertwined with condescending criticism” are so popular.

Sammy sings praises, not pious put-downs.

Jenny Slate Will Not Be Fired from SNL for F-Word Accident

That may not be official yet. It’s just my educated prediction.

I am a black-and-white kind of person. Either it is or it isn’t. That’s why the idea of censorship on national TV intrigues me. Because the rules of the game aren’t always in black-and-white. After all, there are actually no official guidelines regarding which words can and can not be used on TV- instead each network sets its own limits in an effort not to lose sponsors.

In a faux pas that wins the prize for irony, last night on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live there was a skit about “biker chicks” that made fun of them for having potty mouths, as the actors used the word “frickin'” as a form of self-censorship. New girl and Jewish comedian Jenny Slate, very early on in the skit, slipped the real word by mistake, puffing up her cheeks immediately after, as a sign of recognition of her accidental crime.

Instantly I was shocked by what I had just heard. Not offended, since the movies I choose to watch are loaded with “f-bombs”. Just very surprised, like a 2nd grader hearing the bully say a Bad Word, gasping that the Rule was just broken, wondering if anyone will “tell on” him to the teacher.

Knowing pretty well she said what I thought she said, this was confirmed right before the credits rolled at the end of the episode as fellow actor Seth Myers hugged her in a fashion that expressed, “Hey don’t worry about it- it was an accident. You’ll be fine.”

My favorite song my 8th grade year was “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” by REM. While a line of the chorus is “I never understood the frequency”, sang several times throughout the song, at the very end of the song for the final chorus the line changes to “I never understood, don’t f— with me.” I think I was the only person that caught it when in 1994 REM performed the song on Saturday Night Live. It went uncensored. The funny thing is, Comedy Central continues to air it as a rerun, still not editing it out.

Right now every article that has popped up on the Internet about this recent incident is going on to tell that in 1981 SNL actor Johnny Rocket was the first person to say the F-Word (unapologetically the moment he did it) on national television and that he was fired for it. And now the question is if  Jewish comedienne Jenny Slate will have the same fate. I have an answer.

No.

Last season SNL did a hilarious skit called “Sofa King”. That pushed the envelope for F-Word censorship more than anything they’ve done in the past. The skit was a fake commercial for a furniture store called Sofa King, in which the characters used the name of their store to describe how great everything is there. It took most people, including the audience, a minute or two to realize why the skit was even funny.

And once it clicked, it was genius. The actors were saying “sofa king” as a huge logo with the phrase popped up on the screen, but it phonetically sounds exactly like something else. It was a clever way to get around the censors while still saying the F-word multiple times. They totally got away with it. And what they did was completely intentional. And it wasn’t an issue with the censors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_NqXSbh5Ns

So to fire the new girl for an obvious accident during late night hours would simply gain too much negative publicity for NBC. Being that they are the #4 network, if anything this will improve ratings for SNL and the network itself. More people will be tuning in to find out who this Jenny Slate girl is, hoping she will slip up again.

Obviously, as hundreds of people right now are Googling and YouTubing the incident, they are clearly not offended by what happened. If they were, like so many were with the Justin Timberlake/Janet Jackson Super Bowl Fiasco, then it would be a different story.

While most people don’t approve of the word or use it on a regular basis, everyone slips at certain times. I know I have. Even if no one was around to hear it. Or even if I wasn’t on a live show on national TV.

This will turn out to be a fortunate accident for her. An instant transformation from New Girl to Jenny Slate, a name we now all know and recognize.

The Slip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJOvVdl0DXU

The Hug http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoSmGfJCEAo

sofaking

The Teaching of Mr. Miyagi: Avoiding Awkwardness, Confrontations, and Fights

 

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who complain at restaurants about their order being less than perfect and those who just let it go. I have learned that my wife and I are the ones that don’t complain and just overlook it. The last thing we want when we’re out to enjoy a nice meal is a confrontation. It’s just not worth it to us to 1) call the waiter to the table and explain why our order is not right, 2) have to listen to him apologize, 3) have the manager come to our table and apologize and tell us our meal is free, 4) accept a free meal on account of someone’s minor mistake. I hate feeling awkward. It’s one of my quirks.

In a great movie that was made ten years ago called Fight Club, leader Tyler Durden gives his members a homework assignment: Start a fight with someone and lose. He then explains, “Most people, normal people, do anything to avoid a confrontation.” I can definitely vouch for that.

Why did telemarketing lasted for so long in our country’s history (until President Bush outlawed it a few years ago)? Because annoying and aggressive telemarketers were ultimately successful. While most people had enough confidence to politely say “no thanks” and hang up, many people caved to the confrontation. They would rather commit to a magazine subscription for two years and “not make the other person feel bad”. Or worse, become a victim of a time-share related pyramid scheme by a “friend”.

For every 30 no’s, there was one yes. And that yes brought good profit. Same thing applies to those annoying salesman in the middle isles at the mall that want to “give you a free ring cleaning”, A.K.A.- try to sell people something to clean their ring with.

I don’t have a problem with confronting someone if it’s about something important. But if it’s not, then it’s better time management to just avoid the situation. I don’t like having to argue with someone when I am solid in my decision. If I am asked to buy something or do something I don’t want to do, the answer is no. And if I’m further asked, then just to spite the person I tend to get aggressive with them, then later spend time thinking about how annoying they where. So my rule of thumb is the same as the point of the 1986 film Karate Kid Part II- the best way to win a fight is to avoid it.

Tips:


1) When at the mall or walking into or out of a Wal-Mart on Saturday, I put my cell phone up to my ear when I see a salesman. They prey on the weak and undistracted.
2) When someone is calling me on my cell phone from a number that is not already programmed as one of  my contacts, don’t answer it. It is definitely someone I don’t want to talk to.
3) When at a restaurant, order salmon, not steak. Then I don’t have to worry about my meal being undercooked. Also, I won’t be tempted so say the cliché phrase that your steak is “still mooing at me”.
4) When at the movies and I realize I’m sitting in front of some punk teenage kids that are going to be talking during the movie and putting their feet on the back of my seat, I just get up and sit somewhere else. They’re idiots and no matter how nicely I tell them, they’re gonna be annoying anyway.