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The myth of being "Rude"

By farl in Culture
Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:36:59 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I don't believe in being rude. And I do not mean that I will not be "rude" to other people, but rather that I do not think the social concept of rudeness is a valid concept.

A friend once told me that I was being rude to her. I asked her what she meant and attempted to get her to explain exactly what I was doing that she thought was rude. After a profitless 10-minute discussion about what it was that I was or was not doing, I changed tack and tried to get her to define what she meant by being rude. She was unable to adequately explain (even to herself) how she defined rude, and what she could quantify as being rude.

Dictionary.com defines rude as:

  • rude (rd), adj. rud·er, rud·est.
  • 1. Relatively undeveloped; primitive: a rude and savage land; a rude agricultural implement.
  • 2. (a) Being in a crude, rough, unfinished condition: a rude thatched hut. (b) Exhibiting a marked lack of skill or precision in work: rude crafts. (c) In a natural, raw state: bales of rude cotton.
  • 3. (a) Lacking the graces and refinement of civilized life; uncouth. (b) Lacking education or knowledge; unlearned. (c) Ill-mannered; discourteous: rude behavior.
  • 4. Vigorous, robust, and sturdy.
  • 5. Abruptly and unpleasantly forceful: received a rude shock.
For the point of this discussion, we can ignore definitions 1, 2a, 2b, 2c and 4. None of these apply to what I am talking about. I do acknowledge that these uses of the word "rude" are valid and usable in society, even though they are still dependent on the speaker's current social situation (especially definition 1).

What I am talking about, is the social phenomenon of how society reacts to certain events, phrases, actions and other interactions, and specifically on the negative reaction that is evidenced. In speaking to many people over time over this issue, the consensus comes to that great line "I can't define rude, I just know what it is." Well quite frankly, this does not sit well with me. I am the type of person that likes to look at motivations and ideas behind what goes on on the surface of society. Why do people feel the need to say hello? Why do people feel the need to say "my pleasure" after they get thanked for something? Why do people do lots of silly and nonsensical things just because they think other people expect them to? And that last question is the basis of my argument for the myth of being rude.

What exactly is this myth? Basically it comes down to somebody having a negative reaction to something that somebody else did. Yes this is vague, but I am trying to define a situation here. A great example from my personal store of silly stories is this:

Some good friends of mine and I was walking down a street near to where we grew up. It was a busy Saturday and lots of people were in the area. We came across two people, who while they looked to us like they were friends, were engaged in a very loud, very heated argument right in the center of a busy sidewalk. So on a lark, one of my friends walked up to them, tapped them on their shoulders, and said "Excuse me". The two stopped arguing and turned round to my friend. My friend then said "Thanks, I just wanted to interrupt you". And he walked away. It took me a really long time to stop laughing. On the other hand, one of the other people with us was totally shocked and commented at length that she though my first friend had been very rude. At the time we ignored the comment, because we were having trouble walking straight we were laughing so hard.

This situation is a good example of how people can see the exact same event, and come to two totally different conclusions. When speaking to my second friend later on that day, he tried to explain to me that my other friend had committed a serious "societal breach of manners", or in other words, was rude. While I could see his point that my friend should have stayed out of the argument, I didn't see the harm in his joke.

In further conversations down the years, I have come to realize that I honestly don't believe I have ever been rude to anyone EVER. When talking to people about this, they quite obviously don't believe me. But here is my rationale: "I am not responsible for your social assumptions". Just because you think that something is rude, does not make it rude. More importantly, if I do something that you find to be rude, you are finding it to be rude. It is all in your perspective. I cannot be held responsible for you getting upset because I did not hold a door open for you (based on your assumption that for some reason I should), or respond to a rhetorical comment (because it is rhetorical, not a question), or some other so-called social blunder. I am not talking about being deliberately insulting, that is a whole different issue. I just refuse to worry about whether things that I am doing go against societies expectations of me. I am sure a lot of you would agree with this too.

I am not your "perfect" human being. I am not "what you expect". I am an individual, with my own set of ideas, concepts, ideas, beliefs, moral standpoints and many other traits that are quite probably different from anyone else's. I will not be held responsible for my innocent comment/action that you CHOSE to get offended by. As I am fond of saying to people "If I wanted to insult you, there would be no doubt I am insulting you."

Do you think that this position is similar to how you think? And please note, I am not asking if it is valid or not, because it is how I live my life and therefore 100% valid for me. While it might not be for me, the greatest thing about having an opinion is that it is an opinion, and not a fact for everyone. Please let me know what you think, if you feel rudeness exists, and any amusing anecdote that might fit this topic.


PS>As an aside, to show how weird people can think, and be different from society's expectations, here are some examples: I am a firm believer in Black&White (in that I do not see any gray issues in anything/any decision ever), I fully believe that Socialism is a great thing, and I fully believe that Socialism will never work in reality. Holding contradictory views is not a bad thing if you are able to understand WHY you hold them. And besides, those last two comments are not contradictory in my opinion.


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Does "rudeness" exist?
o Nope. It is a myth. 11%
o It's based on your society. 41%
o Of course it does! 46%

Votes: 115
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
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The myth of being "Rude" | 90 comments (88 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Brilliant. (2.27 / 11) (#1)
by TheReverend on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:43:11 PM EST

I have always felt this way. It is very hard for me to take things personally, so I am never offended. This is a brilliant article that needs to be read by all the thin-skinned nancys around here. :)

"Democratic voting is specifically about minority rights" --Infinitera

Rude != offensive (none / 0) (#63)
by leviathan on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:06:52 AM EST

But offensive is a subset of rude.

The rude that I'm bothered about more about inducing frustration:

"Don't walk away when I'm trying to talk to you"

"Don't just dump this on my desk and run away. I need to discuss it."

That's rude, and I'm not offended, just irritated.

I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]
Manners (3.20 / 5) (#2)
by farmgeek on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:43:39 PM EST

are the grease that keeps society running smoothly (or as smoothly as it does).

Behaving rudely (3a, 3c) will give people the impression that you are rude(3b). Being courteous on the other hand will give people a more favorable impression of you.

You can choose to act rudely if you want, just don't be surprised when people treat you like you are an idiot.

Responding to myself but.. (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by farmgeek on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:47:11 PM EST

you WILL be held responsible for your innocent comment/action that society chooses to get offended by.

[ Parent ]
Why is that a problem ? (none / 0) (#13)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:33:19 PM EST

If you did not mean to be rude, just apologise and be more polite next time. We live and learn, after all.

On the other hand, sometimes its necessary to say things to people they will take offense at. Then you just have to live with it. There's no point in taking offense at "society" unless there's some pattern of real, indentifiable suppression of legitimate actions.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
If manners are the grease, then... (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by marlowe on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:12:16 PM EST

what is the brake that keeps society from jumping the track into the tyranny of political correctness?

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Practicality. (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 08:10:26 AM EST

When a particular societal norm becomes more tedious or impractical to observe than ignore, people will get laxer and laxer about observing them. Manners are no less subject to darwinism than anything else.

[ Parent ]
Politeness and Rudeness (3.25 / 4) (#4)
by tumeric on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:53:34 PM EST

Politeness costs nothing but is a gift you give to strangers.

I don't feel that rudeness should be worried about after the event but surely respecting other peoples beliefs and customs is no bad thing? It is in fact quite polite. Sometimes, when people don't respect your beliefs and customs you can be polite by not giving them a hard time about it.

yes, it exists (3.60 / 10) (#5)
by mikpos on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:59:24 PM EST

There is a reason why people say "hello", "thank you" and "my pleasure". It's because the person they're saying it to will presumably appreciate it. Manners are a convenient way of predicting how people will react when you haven't met them. Apparently you personally don't like people talking to you, but generally speaking, if you want to make a stranger feel better, saying "hello" and "thank you" is a good way to do it.

The attitude presented is a bit off-putting, though. Did you or your friend have no compassion at all for those two men you interrupted? Obviously whatever they were discussing was of extreme importance to them. I would not be surprised if you trivialising them and then having a laugh at their expense was very much appreciated; personally I wouldn't feel sorry for you or your friend if they turned around and kicked you in the teeth. Staying out of the discussion I think would be a good idea; two people angry enough to be shouting at each other in the middle of the street is a very serious event and should not be dealt with lightly. Do you think that by laughing at them you were helping them any? What exactly was so funny about it, anyway?

Simply put, before you go insulting or hurting anyone else needlessly (or even for the sake of rebelling against these awful social norms), I suggest that you try putting yourself in their shoes and have some compassion for them. Obviously if you know the person you're dealing with, you already know how they will react and how much they will appreciate what you do for them, but when dealing with perfect strangers, having good manners is an effective way to make them feel better.

Personally, I agree with you 100% that social norms and manners should be viewed with skepticism. People who say "excuse me" before leaving to go to the bathroom strike me as strange, for example. On the other hand, saying "hello" can be quite friendly in certain situations. But every action you've described seems to be to have been destructive. It's one thing to challenge the social norms, but it's another thing to hurt someone.

I don't think that was his point. (2.50 / 2) (#8)
by aderuwe on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:12:47 PM EST

I don't think he (the author of the story, I don't have his name on screen right now) was saying these two people arguing on the street were funny at all. He just said he thought his friend was funny because of the way he interrupted them. That is a totally different thing.
I think he has a pretty valid point. Being "rude" is very relative. Some might consider me rude, if I use the "f-word", though I myself consider it a very valid way of expressing my opinion, in a way that shows the importance it holds for me (or something like that, it's late and I'm not English by nature, so I hope it makes sense).

/Alexander Deruwe

[ Parent ]
ahh (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by mikpos on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:45:20 PM EST

Ya I think I was mistaken; he wasn't laughing at those two people, though I still don't see what's so funny about it. The larger point is that the interruption (and I still think the laughing, even if it was not directed at the two men) was a very mean thing to do, regardless of whether it's good manners or not.

I agree with you on the fuck thing, though. I'm 100% pro-swearing :)

[ Parent ]

Social Conventions (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by Mad Hughagi on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:10:40 PM EST

The concept of holding social norms and manners with skepticism is something I agree with very much. Your example of excusing oneself when going to the bathroom is a prime example.

I think that "rudeness" can be defined in two separate situations. The first would be a rude action that is founded by a negative means. This is somewhat determined by social convention, however I think that to a degree most people can agree on something being rude when it stems from negative intentions. The intent is key.

The second situation is where something is deemed rude by the act of not following social convention. This is the where people often misuse "excuse me" or "I'm sorry". I think that most of this behaviour did have significant meaning in a certain context and that it has now been overused or used in the wrong situations. Often the offending party is ignorant to the social conventions when he commits this offense, or else they simply do not view the social convention in question to be valid.

As many other people have pointed out, being rude with negative intent is definately a social taboo, however I believe that many people have come to expect behaviour of the second kind simply out of principle. This is something that I find very displeasing. Social conventions are useful when they are used properly, just as any other behaviour, but when they cross the line into being artifacts of a previous age or when they cease to be relevant then that is where I think we need to re-evaluate our positions.

My biggest "pet peeve" (if you will) is the act of saying "bless you" after someone sneezes. Personally I find this to be offensive. I know people never intend it in a negative sense, but the concept of being blessed (either for the reason that I have presumably expelled a portion of my soul or for the reason that I may be infested with the plague - the only two reasons I've heard for the "bless you" comment to be made) is irrelevant to me. Do I comment "happy evolving" when others sneeze? That would definately get a reaction out of a few people, that's for sure! I know I'm being rather assinine here, and I would never make a comment like that, but I'm just trying to put things in their proper light.

In any case I believe we have a large redundancy in our social conventions and that this is the root for a lot of behaviour being labelled as rude when it really shouldn't have the stigma of rudeness attached to it.


We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
[ Parent ]

you're missing one (none / 0) (#68)
by mikpos on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 10:03:22 AM EST

You make some good points, but you ignore the possibility of doing harm without intent. An example might be chewing with your mouth open; it's annoying ("harm" is a relative term I guess, heh), but I doubt that you'd be doing it deliberately.

You have to keep in mind that manners have been developed over centuries and centuries, most of them based on good reason. Just because you that they're good, that doesn't mean that they're not good. It's very dangerous (and I dare say foolish) to go in the face of a few hundred years of wisdom and start from scratch.

[ Parent ]

It would go under #2 (none / 0) (#71)
by Mad Hughagi on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:25:17 AM EST

I don't think much can be done about the possiblity of doing harm without intent. That is going to happen no matter how we 'formalize' our social behaviour simply because the offending party is ignorant of the situation. I would say that this would still fall into my second category - simply because someone is not famiiliar with our implicit rules shouldn't make them rude. This often comes up in the whole "National Geographic Uncomfortable Situation" as I like to call it.

You're sitting at home with the family, watching the latest documentary on some other culture and consequently there are many things shown to you on T.V. that would immediately strike you as being rude simply because they are foreign to the way that you believe people behave. Cultural differences are the basis for this type of rudeness. Here in N.A. many people spit on the street, I heard recently that one of the south-eastern asian countries (I can't remember which one) proposed fines for people that spit in public. Go figure! They must take spitting as being terribly offensive as compared to the average baseball pitcher. So I guess that is where I would put the doing-harm-without-intent rude infractions.

In respect to your second comment, I think that was what I was trying to illustrate in my first post - manners (and most social behaviour) are a progression. I never stated that we should wipe the board clean, I just think that it would be logical to continue to evaluate our position on them and to make personal decisions instead of simply 'going along with the masses'.

In my personal case I make my own judgements depending on the situation. If I feel that something needs to be said (/doesn't need to be said) then I act accordingly. If I am in the company of people with different customs / cultural values I always try to accomodate them as best as I can while maintaining my own personal outlook. Nothing is quite so absolute, I am just targetting 'certain' behaviours as being non-sensical.


We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
[ Parent ]

RUdeness Exists (2.50 / 6) (#6)
by Ruidh on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:07:54 PM EST

If there were no such thing as manners, I'd say that you are a Fucking Idiot. ;^)

Definition 3c is the one you want. "Ill-mannered; discourteous". I am compulsively courteous. "Thank you.", "No, thank you.", "Please", "Yes, Maam.", "Yes, Sir." flow from my mouth without a thought. I was raised that way.

It's really about treating others with respect. It's the right thing to do. Unless you don't think that morality exists. In which case, Fuck off.

"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
Actually... (2.50 / 4) (#10)
by farl on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:19:23 PM EST

In most situations i am courteous actually. Like you, I automatically say the polite things.<br><br>
My point was that I don't believe in being rude. I never said i don't believe in being polite. Rudeness and politeness are not opposites. They are alternatives to being "normally behaved? (and sorry for using this term but i could not think of a better one.) They are each alternatives to this, not opposites of each other.

[ Parent ]
Ok, but one problem.... (4.23 / 21) (#7)
by lucas on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:12:19 PM EST

If I might quote the gist of the inconsistency:

>More importantly, if I do something that you find to be rude, you are
> finding it to be rude. It is all in your perspective.

Moral Relativism

>I am a firm believer in Black&White (in that I do not see any gray
>issues in anything/any decision ever


If rudeness is an absolute problem, you can either prove it or disprove it as an abstraction. The fact that rudeness is not breaks your argument down - it is, indeed, a relative phenomenon according to your argument.

Thus, if rudeness is a relative problem, it cannot be described in absolute terms and disproved. For, if my perspective is correct (I see rudeness) just as yours is (You don't see rudeness), what makes yours more correct if the answer is relative to this same perspective and not of an absolute nature?

Argh.. I did my undergrad in philosophy and the main thing I wish I hadn't learned from it was how to mangle others' arguments... including my own, which creates a spectacular fireball of contradictory thoughts. ;-)

kuro5hin's unofficial resident hacker-philosopher

nah, he;s consistent, but wrong (2.00 / 2) (#52)
by streetlawyer on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:12:28 AM EST

nahhhhh .... fellow undergraduate (Econ. & Philosophy) speaking ...... basically, it's a fairly dull absolutist argument that because there is no absolute standard of rudeness, it can't exist. Of course, it's a pretty poor logical metaphysic to have, because it imposes on you the obligation to come up with an absolute justification for absolutism, then an absolute justification for the justification, and so on into a regress which is not obviously not vicious. But I think the actual inconsistency you spot isn't there.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
It's societal... (3.16 / 6) (#9)
by whatnotever on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:14:48 PM EST

But I have a feeling a few thousand other people will tell you that and some of them will do it better than I could, so I'll let them tell you that.

Ooh, but I can't restrain myself on this one: I go up to someone and sucker-punch them. I then tell them that I can't be held accountable for their social assumptions, namely that sucker-punching someone is not good. How is this different? One difference may be that you called your actions "innocent." That, again, is subjective... Your thoughts?

I'm far more interested in your belief in "Black&White," actually. (But now this is offtopic, and I may lose my precious trusted-monkey status.)

If I give you a wedgie ... (3.76 / 13) (#11)
by StrontiumDog on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:25:54 PM EST

... I will laugh so hard I won't be able to walk straight for minutes.

You might not consider that so funny, though.

If I am having a conversation with a friend, and you pull a stunt like the one you just described, a number of things can happen. I might be having a good day, and laugh right along with you. I might be having a so-so day, and simply stare at you in bewilderment. I might be having one of these days, and then I'm liable to leave you without front teeth.

Rudeness is context-sensitive. It is dependent on the mood of the person who is being offended. It is dependent on the personality and background of the person being offended. It is dependent on the time, and place. He who fails to realize this, is doomed to remain a socially awkward geek. A wedgie during a swinging office party is not rude. Giving a prospective employer a wedgie just before a job interview is rude. The man is there to interview you, not have his anus fingered.

Why do people say "hello"? Well, take me for example. I am 6'2", weight about 200lb, train weights, have a shaven head and belong to a demographic with a disproportionate number of members behind bars. Suppose you meet me one night in a dark alley. I happen to be standing in the way. You need to pass me by. How do you signal your non-violent intent, and request in a non-confrontational manner that I need to get out of the way?
Pick an option:

(1)You give me a wedgie.
(2)You say "Move it, fool"
(3)You say "Hello; could you step aside please, I would like to pass through"

If you don't understand this then you need to broaden your social contacts a little. And brush up your history. There are reasons we shake hands, take off our hats, bow down, greet strangers politely etc. 'Nuff said.

It goes deeper (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by flieghund on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:52:16 AM EST

(You know, I didn't intend the pun in the subject line when I thought of it. But now that I realize the double entendre, I'm sticking with it. Ooh, another one!)

How do you signal your non-violent intent, and request in a non-confrontational manner that I need to get out of the way?

I would go so far as to argue that this situation (or some variation of it) is the basis for 50% of social interaction. (The other 50% focusing on "How do I interest you in helping me procreate our species?" :-D ) Seriously, animals do this all the time, especially when a "stranger" enters a group. The first thing the stranger does is signal his/her nonviolent intent -- unless the stranger is specifically looking to create trouble. In which case, the existing group is likely to respond in a similar (violent) manner.

Something I consider a fairly good example: don't wander into a group of chimpanzies and smile. Smiling is a perfectly harmless and nonviolent expression among humans. Among chimps, it is a sign of hostility. An adult chimp, as small as it is, can rip your arm off and beat you to death with it -- and it likely would, if you were to do something like the above scenario. The chimp took offense to something you did, even though you had no intent to offend. Did the chimp make a choice to be offended?

Of course, it is easy to argue against this by saying that the chimp was merely reacting to instinct, and does not possess the higher cognitive abilities to separate instinct and reason. Well, I would say this is true of human beings as well. Our reactions to what we perceive to be rudeness are based upon subconscious conceptions of appropriateness. These are generally deeply ingrained and shaped by the society a person develops in (which accounts for many of the social faux pas people experience when they travel). But unless you are extraordinarily in touch with your subconscious desires and motivations (and I can assure you most people are not), it is difficult to overcome "gut reactions" such as perception of rudeness. The fact that farl's friend could not define rudeness does not invalidate rudeness as a social concept; I think it points to rudeness being a deeply subconscious and instinctive concept.

As another poster mentioned, the fact that you are aware of what is considered rude, but continue to act in a way that others perceive to be rude, indicates your acquiesence to be rude. In any case, I have found that being polite (even to the point of extreme deference when necessary) will get you what you want 99% of the time. Being aggressive, arrogant, or rude (even perceived as rude) will get you what you want less than 1% of the time.

Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
Rude is relative, but real (3.00 / 4) (#12)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:30:31 PM EST

Its certainly true that rudeness depends on cultural assumptions. Its one of the great problems of diplomacy, large scale or small, that different people have different understandings of "rude". Any other Brits who've worked with Americans will understand what I mean.

However, while its certainly a good idea to develop a thick skin yourself and ingore "rudeness" unless its clearly meant, it kind of misses the point to say "I am not responsible for your cultural assumptions". While you're not responsible for what the other person thinks and feels, if it costs you nothing to act in a way that will probably not be perceived as rude, why not do it ?
Indeed, to turn the question around, since you're aware of the code of politeness for your society, why should you ever be rude ? unless you actually mean to offend.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
Long-ass story... (3.12 / 8) (#14)
by Spendocrat on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:35:52 PM EST

Just to come to the conclusion that social interactions are based on the perspectives of those involved in them. I find this kind of discussion to be completely uninteresting because there's really nothing to discuss that doesn't involve spinning in logical circles that aren't logical at all. -1

The guys on the street... (4.00 / 5) (#15)
by CyberQuog on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:43:22 PM EST

I would find it rude for them to be arguing loudly in public.
There is a sense in which you are RIGHT. (3.50 / 6) (#16)
by daystar on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:44:44 PM EST

... rudeness only exists as PERCEIVED rudeness. Even if you TRY to be rude, if no one's offended, you were not rude.

Tragically, women often base their sexual choices on this kind of subjectivity. Regardless of the ephemeral nature of "rudeness" the phenomenon of "doing something without regard to the feelings of others" being linked with "noone will have sex with me" is undeniable.

"BUT!" you shriek, "I know rude guys who get laid all the TIME!" Yes, but there's a different kind of rudeness going on there. It's manipulative rudeness, not simple coarseness. A lot of women like that. Go figure. My point still holds, though: People's perception of your "niceness" can drastically effect your happiness.

Do what you want. I'll be having sex with all of the girls who are pissed at you... :)

There is no God, and I am his prophet.
Black & White (4.11 / 9) (#18)
by Dacta on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:46:24 PM EST

How old are you? I'm not trying to be rude there (although I guess you won't care about that anyway), but I used to believe in extreme positions just like you.

Since then, I've grown up and now I never believe in extremes of any arguement. In almost any view there is some truth, and by ignoring that you are doing yourself a disfavour. (I say almost because there are obvious exceptions - mathematics being the best - where there is an absolute right and wrong (or black and white). These exceptions are very rare, though, and hence a big deal is normally made about the truth of them - see the effort that goes into mathematical proofs.)

Funny (4.33 / 6) (#19)
by Khedak on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:52:53 PM EST

I believed there were no absolutes when I was fifteen, then I realized the contradiction. ;) (Hey you said you never believe in extremes)

I mean this as a friendly jest.

[ Parent ]
Re- b&w (2.00 / 2) (#20)
by farl on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:53:26 PM EST

I am not saying that other people don't believe in gray. But for me it doesnt exist. Its sort of like explaning color to a colorblind person.

I am 26M, have traveled the world a fair bit, and lived in many different cultures. So my background and opinion base is pretty varied and broad because of that.

For me (and note the FOR ME part), when i get faced with a decision, i can decide on the spot "yes" or "no", or whatever the choices might be, based on my current information/situation. I am VERY happy to change my mind as the situation changes and more information comes to light. I am more of a fast decision maker than a closed-mind (if that analogy makes sense).

[ Parent ]
That's a good way to attack a position... (2.00 / 2) (#53)
by PresJPolk on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:18:49 AM EST

That's a good way to attack a point of view, without backing it up. Just belittle the view as one that people grow out of.

Do you have examples of things where it is impossible to have a clear, uncompromising, extreme position?

[ Parent ]
Take you up on this one .... (none / 0) (#62)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 08:36:40 AM EST

Do you have examples of things where it is impossible to have a clear, uncompromising, extreme position?

Like the old saw goes, pick any two, but you can't have 'em all.

Example: Murder is evil.
This is as clear as can be.
You can take it to extremes: to the point that you consider it evil to kill in self defence, even when there are no other options.
But by allowing yourself to be killed you are sactioning evil. There goes the "uncompromising" part.

Now generally things aren't so clear cut with just one position; the real fun sets in when you try to maintain a whole set of fundamental axiomatic positions. Then you discover that, unlike in number theory, it is practically impossible to build a complete and internally consistent set of rules for dealing with social situations. There are going to be many, many collisions. "Thou shalt not kill" collides with "thou hast a right to defend thyself". "The Bible is incontestably right" collides with "so who did Cain marry, then?"."Thou shalt not tell falsehoods" collides with "thou shalt fornicate with this woman at all costs" when your date asks you if you like her pink and orange frilly dress.

And yes, it often takes some time before people realise this, but fortunately people often do eventually grow out of rigid views.

[ Parent ]

Murder is evil. (none / 0) (#64)
by PresJPolk on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:30:02 AM EST

Murder != killing.

Killing someone in self-defense is not murder.

The Bible is incontestably right

I grant you that there are people who hold firm and contradictory positions, but that doesn't preclude someone from hold firm and non-contradictory positions.

[ Parent ]
Replace "Murder" with "Killing" (none / 0) (#66)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:38:08 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Look to the law for an example (2.00 / 1) (#67)
by PresJPolk on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:48:17 AM EST

The law distinguishes between simply killing someone, murdering someone, and other acts.

I'm not exactly sure how I would define murder, but it'd probably go along the lines of "Killing someone without good cause."

What exactly constitutes good cause would take time to think out fully, but that doesn't mean that I'm unclear on whether "murder is bad."

[ Parent ]
Exactly! (none / 0) (#88)
by Dacta on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 02:29:34 AM EST

This is EXACTLY my point. While it very simple to say "Murder is bad", and is it very difficult to disagree with you on that, it is also fairly easy to argue that most murders aren't quite as black and white as that.

Arguing against a statement like "Murder is bad" is impossible, though. Instead, take the statement "Murderers are bad", which many people who believe the in the "black/white" philosophy would (or should) take as an equivalent statement (ie - if murder is always bad, then muderers are always bad).

Now, even the most evil murderers often have some defense. Take serial killers - many have some kind of mental problem. While that does nothing to justify or excuse their killing, or contridict the statement "Murder is bad", it does go some way to explaining their actions - which begins to errode at the statement "murderers are bad" - now it is "murderers are bad or mentally derranged".

[ Parent ]
The myth of being beautiful. (3.91 / 12) (#21)
by theR on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:06:45 PM EST

I don't believe in being beautiful. And I do not mean that I am not "beautiful" to other people, but rather that I do not think the social concept of beauty is a valid concept.

A friend once told me that I was beautiful to her. I asked her what she meant and attempted to get her to explain why she thought I was beautiful. After a profitless 10-minute discussion about what it was about me, I changed tack and tried to get her to define what she meant by being beautiful.

Dictionary.com defines beautiful as:

  1. Having qualities that delight the senses, especially the sense of sight.
  2. Exciting intellectual or emotional admiration.

What I am talking about, is the social phenomenon of how society reacts to certain events, phrases, actions and other interactions, and specifically on the negative reaction that is evidenced. In speaking to many people over time over this issue, the consensus comes to that great line "I can't define beauty, I just know what it is." Well quite frankly, this does not sit well with me. I am the type of person that likes to look at motivations and ideas behind what goes on on the surface of society. Why do people feel the need to call something beautiful? Why do people feel the need to be happy with their appearance? Why do people do lots of silly and nonsensical things to look a certain way because they think other people expect them to? And that last question is the basis of my argument for the myth of beauty.

What exactly is this myth? Basically it comes down to somebody having a positive opinion about something that they see, hear, feel, or touch.

I hope you get the point.

You are perfectly welcome to have your belief that there is nothing that can be considered rude. That does not mean rudeness does not exist. Beauty...er...rudeness is in the eye of the beholder.

It's an interesting discussion topic, but maybe a little over the top. Also, you're a little inconsistent.

I don't believe in being rude. And I do not mean that I will not be "rude" to other people, but rather that I do not think the social concept of rudeness is a valid concept.

Then, later:

Just because you think that something is rude, does not make it rude. More importantly, if I do something that you find to be rude, you are finding it to be rude. It is all in your perspective.

Are you saying your perspective is the only valid one? If you are not, I think those two statements conflict. If you are, then should the following only be applied to you as well?

I am not your "perfect" human being. I am not "what you expect". I am an individual, with my own set of ideas, concepts, ideas, beliefs, moral standpoints and many other traits that are quite probably different from anyone else's. I will not be held responsible for my innocent comment/action that you CHOSE to get offended by.

You(personal) vs. You(3rd person vague) (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by farl on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:12:58 PM EST

I didnt say i was perfectly consistent. Please note the comment at the bottom of my article about Socialism. Its hard to explain concepts sometimes in a written format to people whose word choice and usage might be different to yours.

I am not saying my perspective is the ONLY valid one, but rather it is MY valid one. You are entitled to your opinion. Its yours and might be different to mine. I dont hold that against people.

Furthermore, i am trying to say that the SOCIAL concept of rudeness is flawed, and should generally be ignored. I dont deliberatly try to hurt people, but i will NOT be held accountable for how you perceive an innocent action on my part. You might hold me responsible, but I do not hold me responsible. One of my personal keys to happiness is understand that your attempt to impose an idea on me does not make it either valid or right (and I am not bashing you here, i am talking about you 3rd person vague).

[ Parent ]
I Disagree (3.50 / 4) (#31)
by Captain Derivative on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:13:48 PM EST

But you see, the lack of consistency is a problem in your argument. You say you believe only in extremes (black and white, as you call them), yet you defend the actions people find rude by appealing to moral relativism. It's like you're saying "there are absolute positions that are always true, but mine are different than yours, and they're both correct because we're different."

While everyone will disagree exactly where to draw the line between rudeness and acceptable behavior, that doesn't mean that rudeness doesn't exist at all. There's a big gray area in between where the context of the action, the people involved, the relationship between them, social norms, etc. all come into play. Calling a close friend "asshole" while joking around will be interpreted entirely differently than saying the same thing to a stranger at night on a street. And yes, the same thing can be rude in one situation and not rude in another.

And while society's decisions as to what is rude and what isn't may be somewhat arbitrary, that is hardly grounds to say the entire societal concept of rudeness is invalid. If you say something to someone, and you can be reasonably sure that person will interpret it as being rude, and you do it anyway, then that is being rude, even if you wouldn't consider it rude if someone did the same to you. You seem to be advocating that because people disagree as to what rudeness is, we should therefore let anything go.

I dont deliberatly try to hurt people, but i will NOT be held accountable for how you perceive an innocent action on my part. You might hold me responsible, but I do not hold me responsible.

You'll excuse me if the first thing that popped into my head when I read this was Bart Simpson saying "I'm going to start walking forward swinging my fist in the air, and if it hits you, it's your own fault." Living in a society means taking some responsibility for your actions, like it or not.

Hey! Why aren't you all dead yet?! Oh, that's right, it's only Tuesday. -- Zorak

[ Parent ]
Relax a little. (3.50 / 2) (#41)
by theR on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:39:18 PM EST

This is a discussion, and I think you probably realized there would be a lot of people disagreeing with you if you presented a position that is so extreme. I do not think your position on this is wrong. The main thing I would like to point out is that you do believe in rudeness. Your view of it is just a little different.

From your response to SIGFPE's comment:

I dont try to hurt people. I dont try to annoy people. I dont deliberatly give people wedgies (as one commenter suggested). I dont suckerpunch people. I just dont get upset when other people think i am rude. Please understand the difference.

To me, this means you try not to be rude, whatever your personal definition of rude may be. You are being socially bound by concepts of rudeness, but they are your concepts. That is true of everyone. It just happens that some, or most, people use a broader social definition that is more influenced by the masses. The quote above shows that you have been socially influenced. Otherwise, what would be wrong with suckerpunching people?

[ Parent ]
You may nto hold yourself accountable, however (none / 0) (#84)
by mindstrm_2 on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:36:15 AM EST

you recognize that you may not wish others to think you are rude due to your relationship with them. You don't want your boss thinking you are rude, so you will avoid doing things he will consider rude, even though you don't 'believe' in rudeness.

If I feel you are rude, I'm not trying to impose any ideas on you; i'm simply telling you that your actions are offending me, period. Simply a fact that you *cannot change*. It is up to you if you wish to continue to offend me, or to change whatever the offensive behavior is. As you indicate, this choice will be based on many factors. If I'm a stranger, you probably won't care. If I'm your best friend, you probably will.

SO for all the words you are splitting, all you are ending up doing is trying to verbalize the unconscious decisions we all make when we find something 'rude'.

No matter how we look at it, or if we try to forget abou trudess, and politeness, and whatever else, there will still be behavior that offends. what will we call it when someone does something offensive, knowingly, to bother us all?

[ Parent ]
sigh... (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by mami on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:26:08 PM EST

I have a lot of people had apologizing to me for their own perceived "rudeness" which I never had understood as such. So I started to be more careful and started apologizing for my own rudeness, which I think I have not expressed, but who knows what in these times of "political correctness advocates" and "holy missionaries" preaching their self-righteous "right thing" think about me.

Showing rudeness (straight forward verbal insults) is mostly a sign of their own mental defeat to find an argument to back up their feelings. I don't trample on people who are already defeated. The most I could do would be to ignore them. That's why I think we should ignore the article. -1

Another thing one could do is to help them (the rudenessers) to understand themselves. Then we should discuss the article on the front page +1.

Without any of the two I just don't care . +/- 0

Rudeness is interesting (4.00 / 5) (#26)
by SIGFPE on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:41:08 PM EST

It's a cross-cultural invariant in that I think every culture in the world has a concept of rudeness and has some kind of guidelines for conduct (not necessarily codified) that allows you to avoid rudeness. In many cultures it is made part of the basic grammar itself - for example in Japanese and French you can use grammatical constructions that in some contexts are considered rude. So one thing we can say about rudeness is that it is a concept that is shared by many people around the world. They know how to use the word 'rude' and they are able to make themselves understood when using it. The word can be translated into different languages. While people might find the specific things that offend people of other cultures bizarre they generally don't find bizarre the notion that there are, in general, different things that might offend other people.

In the face of all of this how can you claim that rudeness doesn't exist any less than any other abstract noun? It may even be part of our biology to be offended - some things that are considered rude (or at least a provocation to fight) by some human cultures are shared by non-human animals - eg. extended eye contact (my grandmother always used to say "don't stare - it's rude"). I wouldn't be surprised if there were a biological basis for feeling offended (with the particulars of what offends one being shaped by culture of course).

I will not be held responsible for my innocent comment/action that you CHOSE (sic) to get offended by
You are very mistaken to believe that it is a choice. Do you refrain from casual torture or is pain something that people choose to feel also?
** PLEASE READ THIS ** (2.83 / 6) (#27)
by farl on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:46:34 PM EST

I am not an advocate of physical or mental torture. So lets stop bringing that in as your main point of argument. Nowhere do i say that i believe that, so please stop assuming it.

My point is, that being socially bound by the concepts of rudeness is IMHO not a valid thing to be bound by. If i am acting in good faith, and you consider something to be rude, when i dont, its your choice to do so.

The biological aspect is interesting, bu be aware, it is once again SOCIALLY based. Creatures who can evidence aspects of being offended are SOCIAL creatures by definition. They interact with others of their (and other) kinds.

I dont try to hurt people. I dont try to annoy people. I dont deliberatly give people wedgies (as one commenter suggested). I dont suckerpunch people. I just dont get upset when other people think i am rude. Please understand the difference.

[ Parent ]
Simply making assertions proves nothing (3.50 / 4) (#28)
by SIGFPE on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:01:03 PM EST

Case in point:
If i am acting in good faith, and you consider something to be rude, when i dont, its your choice to do so
Again...it's not a choice. Pick people from cultures across the world and interview them about how they feel when they are offended. I think it'll be pretty obvious that it's not a choice.

I am not an advocate of physical or mental torture. So lets stop bringing that in as your main point of argument. Nowhere do i say that i believe that, so please stop assuming it.
Did I assume it? I don't think so. I am merely probing in an attempt to figure out how the concepts of 'pain' and 'being offended' are related in your mind. I want to understand why being offended is a choice but pain isn't. Or maybe you do consider pain to be a choice.

There is a reason why other people might assume you're into inflicting pain. When making predictions about people's behaviour they draw on their mental models of human behaviour. Many people's models start going awry when dealing with the concept of a person who doesn't know rudeness and they start wondering what other bizarre things might be going on in this person's head. Attitudes to violence are an obvious place to start because these potentially have a great impact on surrounding people. And frequently rudeness goes hand in hand with violence.

Clearly you don't have very sophisticated models of other people's behaviour. I'd be interested to know if this handicaps you in any way when dealing with other people. More interesting would be to ask the people around you how they feel your handicap affects them - could you ask them and post the results? Another related point - how do you feel about shame and embarassment? Do you get embarassed at all? (I'm guessing that you get embarassed less than most people because I think rudeness and embarassment can be closely related.)

I look forward to your responses.
[ Parent ]
Re: the comment above (2.50 / 2) (#29)
by farl on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:09:28 PM EST

Simply becuase lots of people choose to believe something, does not NOT make it a choice (i hope the correct amount of negatives are in there). If 100 people choose not to do something it still is a choice. If an entire country believes something, they still choose to do so.

I wasnt saying that you made the assumption. But many other commenters did. I was jus trepsonding in general to all the comments that had been posted already. I suppose I should have posted it as a clean comment and not as a reply, but i only thought of that afterwards.

Just becuase i dont believe i am rude, doenst mean i dont understand other people's models of how they view life. In fact, i make a point of studying such things. Observable phenomena in other people doesn't mean I feel the same way. And yes, violence does effect other people, but i dont consider me being honest and upfront and speaking/acting how i feel to be violent. And i am not saying that if i am angry i will hit someone. Please lets not nitpick and try to understand the points i am (trying to) raise.

As for handicapping me, i dont think so. I am aware of what other people think, and what motivates them. Whenever i can i try to find out when someone does something that i find out of the norm to what i would expect, or to what i would do.

And no, i dont feel embarsment or shame very often. I try not to do anything that might shame me, and i dont do thinks that embaress me. When i do something stupid, I am the first to laugh at myself.

And as a response to other comments: this is not about hitting on girls/guys. this is about interaction with society.

[ Parent ]
There's not much I can do (2.33 / 3) (#32)
by SIGFPE on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:26:05 PM EST

I am aware of what other people think, and what motivates them
If i am acting in good faith, and you consider something to be rude, when i dont, its your choice to do so
The fact that you make both of these statements means that you are (1) trolling or (2) you have missed something that takes many many years to learn and one little post from me is unlikely to make any changes or maybe (3) you are making a profound claim about the nature of 'choice' that I haven't got yet.

I'll assume (3) (after all it's polite to assume the person you are talking to isn't an idiot). If a whole country full of people say they don't have a choice about something but you say they do there's something weird going on. Your use of the word 'choice' is clearly different from other people's. If one person chooses to use a word differently from the rest of the population then almost by definition they aren't speaking the language correctly. So tell me, how can you be a better arbiter of what is a choice for other people than the other people themselves?
[ Parent ]
Re: Choice (1.00 / 2) (#34)
by farl on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:36:15 PM EST

I come from a South African English background. So my word choice and meanings are quite often different. IT makes it hard sometimes.

If someone does something, they choose to do so. By definition. All actions are choice unless they are internal autonomous actions or reflexes. Follow me on this please. Just becuase 99% choose one way, doesnt make it less of a choice.

And thanks for the #3 assumption, i suppose that is the real point of what i am getting to there. Choice is very important, and it is even more important that people realise that they DO have them, even if the options are not always what they want/are good/bad.

[ Parent ]
Theorising... (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by SIGFPE on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:10:51 PM EST

I come from a South African English background
Aaargghhh...I have to bite my tongue on this one (out of politeness) but I'm so tempted to mention a song from the British TV series Spitting Image (the Brits'll know what I mean!)

What you are proposing is something like a grand conspiracy. Compare with a popular argument against the efficacy of hypnotism. The idea is this: usually people are guided by shame and embarassment to some extent. People won't make fools of themselves because of shame. If they knew, however, that ridiculous behaviour was expected of them then this releases them from the possibility of being shamed. Unfortunately even if people say they want you to do something ridiculous you can't help being ashamed because you know that they probably are still laughing at you. People like to make fools of themselves (after all it's fun) but conventions make this difficult. However if everyone around you believes that hypnotism can make you do things against your will then even if it doesn't you can still blame the hypnotism for your behaviour. Therefore you can do what you like without fear of embarassment. And hence you do what the hypnotist and in addition confirm in other peoples eyes the expectations of hypnotism. Hypnotism gives you license to drop social conventions. (One might argue that alcohol does the same.)

Let's apply this to rudeness: People don't really get offended unless they choose to. But everyone denies that they have a choice. Everyone else plays along with the act. One reason for playing along with the act is that in fact people like to be morally outraged. (If that sounds implausible think about the fiction we enjoy. We want someone to hate but moral conventions make this unacceptable. So what much fiction does is construct a situation where we are allowed to drop these moral conventions eg. by setting up a character as someone evil, a baddie, who you are allowed to hate.) By agreeing to play along with the act that there is no choice you gain license to be morally outraged or offended and shout a lot.

Might that be the kind of theory you are proposing or am I barking up the wrong tree?
[ Parent ]
OK. (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by blixco on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:35:52 PM EST

Your philosophy is complacent.

So. You have a problem with being polite in that it's a societal law and not one you made up. You've been told you're rude and you didn't like it, so rude must not exist?

Or is it that people tell you that you're rude when you're just standing there, minding your own business? If this is the case, then you'll have to judge yourself whether these people are bonkers (and it's fairly easy to judge) or if the local mores and conventions require you to stand on one foot. If the society around you is judging you rude, maybe you should endeavor to either change the society or change your behavior.

If I exercise as a guest at Aikido Nippon Kan, I would consider it polite to 1) help sweep the mat beforehand and 2) pay a gratuity to the dojo for letting me work out there. If I am in an american gym, this is simply not the case. So it's a situational thing, decided by the micro-society of the dojo (and it's Japanese feudal society) or the modern corporate gymnasium. I adjust my behavior accordingly because I *respect* the "law" of the situation. I respect the environment or society that I am in as the situation demands it. In my case I make an effort to know the customs, and I do go out of my way to be *very* polite.

So the question then is whether or not you care about the society you are existing in. If you don't (and really, you don't have to) then things like rude or illegal don't matter (depending on your level of disregard). If you *do* care about your existence and it's effect on the society at large, then things like decency, politeness, and law do matter.

In the end, there is one thing I've overlooked: karma. I hate to drag it out, but my own belief in karma is what keeps *every single moron I run into* alive and breathing.
It's more than just situational ethics at that point....but that's just me.

Counter to all of this, of course, is the fact that you can just disregard society and strive to only care about you. And that's fine, as well. You'll just have to *not* care about those labels, which it sounds as though you do.

The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
If thats the case... (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by Narcischizm on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:57:15 PM EST

Then why are you bound by courtesy? It is also an abstract, and like rudeness it is not based only on personal perception, but by the unwritten rules of society. In all your arguments against rudeness, you never mention why you seem to believe in courtesy, obviously also an abstract, which shouldn't matter as long as one is acting in 'good faith', another abstract that needs defining.

As an example. I know that it would be fully within the bounds of courtesy to punch a friend in the arm, call him a name and hug him upon meeting. It would be discourteous to do the same thing to a coworker when I come in to work, the intentions are the same, greeting/happy to see the person/friendliness, but the interpretation of that intention is undeniably the basis for courtesy and by extension, rudeness.

[ Parent ]
YOu don't get upset.. BUT (none / 0) (#83)
by mindstrm_2 on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:26:38 AM EST

you admit in other posts that you avoid being seen as rude when it may cause others discomfort, or otherwise cause some kind of negative social reaction that will cause difficulties for you later.

FOr instance, your girlfriend may not have been able to define rude, but I"ll bet now that you know she doesn't like your 'rude' behavior, you will probably NOT DO IT ANYMORE.

All you are doing is trying to logically explain what is a fairly natural mechanism in human cultulre. I don't like being seen as rude becuase it may cause social difficulties in dealing with people later. I don't need to super-analyze it, it's instinctive. People think you are rude, then that's negative.

Now, if the people who think I am rude are some strangers, and I feel they have no reason to think I'm rude, then I couldn't care less. On the other hand, if I think I should have known better, then I DO feel bad, but only disappointed in myself that I did not act according to my own principles, which involve reducing friction with others.

[ Parent ]
violation of expectations (3.16 / 6) (#30)
by _Quinn on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:09:36 PM EST

   You may not be responsible from someone else's assumptions, but when you violate them, you are being rude. ('Abrupt and unpleasant.') Politeness -- `a refinement of civilized life' -- is two things, the first being a fairly standard set of societal assumptions, and the second a way for addressing whatever violations may occur. What 'manners' do is -- programming metaphor incoming -- provide an interface for communication designed to minimize unpleasantness on both sides. In most cases, you'll never go beyond the interface, like dealing with the salesclerk or your plumber. In other cases, you will. (Normally called 'getting to know someone.' In the programming metaphor, casting to a more specific type.) The c/s concept of protocol comes from manners and politeness, as well.

   You not getting upset when other people thing you're rude doesn't really address whether or not the 'social concept' of rude is flawed. And quite frankly, I don't think many people get upset when they're considered rude -- either they do it deliberately or it was an honest mistake, and usually one readily mended. But 'rude' is a consequence of having a standard form for interactions, which I find it difficult to argue against.

Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
A geek view (4.00 / 5) (#37)
by joto on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:44:22 PM EST

Avoiding to be rude (or using rudeness in a socially profitable way) is something that is part of being a society. Geeks tend to have a problem with all such social constructions. This is in some way healthy, social constructions have a tendency to grow into rather bizarre things, eventually. The French revolution come to mind...

And it can be fun to have a good laugh by deliberately dismissing some of them. But, there is a reason for most social norms and values. They aren't there simply to annoy us (well, most of them aren't). They are there partly as a safety mechanism (is it rude to poke you in the eye?), partly to avoid stepping on other people's toes (is it rude if I borrow stuff from you and never deliver it back?), and partly to make the community go around.

If you are trying to break down unnecesseary social conventions, you will be in good company. E.g Socrates is famous not only for his thougths, but also for deliberately breaking a lot of the social conventions in Greece. But he did so for a reason, not just to show that they didn't exist. Such an action is of course absurd. If they don't exist, there is nothing to break, is there...

I think there are lot's of social conventions more worthy of breaking down then the "do not be rude"-convention. In fact, if there is one social convention I would like to keep, that's the one. I would much rather break the "do not talk to strangers"-convention (at least here in Norway, where it is particulary strong). Or perhaps some overly strict dress-code-convention, or perhaps...

interesting (3.75 / 4) (#38)
by Nyarlathotep on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:19:40 PM EST

You make an interesting point, but there are several things worth pointing out:

(1) People do not necissarily have a _short_term_ choice about what they find rude. The only _short_term_ choice they have regarding rudeness is to ignore and/or excuse the rudeness. (Note: The short term qualification is very importent, since people can probable change almost anything about their personality given enough time and training)

(2) Your friend may not be able to define rudeness because it's a part of the "communications protocol" at a layer she dose not have practice thinking about. This is not saing that it is biological, but just that it's an idea which almost all people use without thinking about.

I would expect that rudeness detection dose not have a single specific function, but instead dose a variety of diffrent things. Examples:

(1) Rudeness can result from communication of hostility, uncarring, lack of empathy, etc. Clearly, detection of these various social states is very useful.

(2) Rudeness can result from not assisting another person maintain their personal delusions (being honest). Note: People who are mildely clinically depressed generally have a more accurate view of themselves then normal people, i.e. society should reward people for helping other people to maintain minor delusions about themselves.

Anyway, my point is that rudeness detection may not be a very specilized social responce, so you should not necissarily expect people to give an accurate definition. Now, you could always do a studdy of what sort of things generate fealings of rudeness.

BTW> I'm saing "rudeness detection" because any metaphyisical questions of "dose rudeness exists?" are clearly uninteresting. The only interesting questions are what generates these fealings and why has society evolved these fealings.

BTW2> Now, if you have specific social situations which generate fealings of rudeness incorrectly then you should try to explain these situations to people (rudeness reform). Generally, art is much more effective at communicating this sort of social reform then posting stries to weblogs.. :) Seriously, you could probable write a play which pulled appart the diffrent things which people consider to be rude and showed them to be diffrent. I suppose you would have a bunch of really nice characters who were all predictably rude in diffrent (specific) ways.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
Definition of rudeness (4.60 / 10) (#39)
by bjrubble on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:28:39 PM EST

To me, rudeness is about disrespect. The example given is perfect -- to interrupt a heated conversation only to say "I just wanted to interrupt" is a great way to demonstrate a thorough disrespect for the conversation and its participants. I agree with several posters earlier; if it had been me I would have done my damnedest to show *my* disrespect for your physical well-being.

Of course rudeness is about perception and expectations. Of course you can claim it's "their" fault for being offended when you act like an asshole. The whole point is that you treat people with a little respect, and don't belittle them or make fun of them for shits and giggles. Like the /. sig says, you don't treat others with respect because they are gentlemen and gentlewomen, but because *you* are.

I actually found this story a bit disturbing. I haven't read farl's other writing, but geeks in general seem to complain a lot about their mistreatment at the hands of jocks, schools, society, and everyone else. Coming up with justifications for being inconsiderate yourself seems just hypocritical. You're indulging your egotism and cruel tendencies, just like all those "bad" people have done to you.

Rudeness? (4.00 / 3) (#42)
by aphrael on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:45:13 PM EST

Rudeness, in my view, consists of failing to take into account how your actions effect other people, or whether you are intruding into their space without their invitation. If I dump my trash on your lawn, it's probably illegal, but it's definitely rude; if I walk in on you having sex with your girlfriend and attempt to join in without having been explicitly invited, it's definitely rude.

Now, that's not to say that everything which is percieved as rude is so --- apparently some people think it's rude to discuss politics at the office, for example. And it would do everyone a world of good to be more considerate of the possibility that the person percieved as being rude may not be intending it that way, or be aware that they are rude ...

Yet that doesn't mean that the concept itself is invalid. If I don't notice the edge of your mental or physical space and intrude upon it; if I deliberately say things to you that I know will make you unhappy without having good cause for doing so; then I am rude.

Why do people do lots of silly and nonsensical things just because they think other people expect them to?

If they are trivial and don't take any energy on my part, then why shouldn't I? If it makes someone happy that i'm polite, what do I lose by being polite? I won't pretend to be something i'm not, but if a few words here and there make someone else's world a more pleasant place, than it's a *good* thing to say them.

cannot be held responsible for you getting upset

Nor would I expect you to --- but i'm not sure I would want to hang out with someone with that cavalier an attitude either. Ultimately I am responsible for my happiness and for the effect I have on the happiness of the people around me; why shouldn't I, at least on an unconscious level, expect you to adhere to the same standard?

I am a firm believer in Black&White (in that I do not see any gray issues in anything/any decision ever

In that, you're my polar opposite: I see shades of gray in everything and believe there is no such thing as a strict black/white line.

Breaking societal constraints (4.00 / 4) (#43)
by Skippy on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:48:32 PM EST

The discussion seems to be moving along on whether or not rudeness exists but most people believe there is. When I studied foreign languages they taught us "ritual" speech, things that are standard and "everyone" does. I would define rudeness as a failure to responde in a ritual manner. An example:
One day a co-worker interruped my coding and asked an unimportant question to which he knew my answer would be positive. I said something like "Cool". He responded by holding up a floppy and saying, "No, this is cool". The "correct" response is "Oh, what is that." and he was attempting to use that societal "correctness" pressure to get that response so that he could tell me what cool thing he had put on the floppy. My response was, "I'll take your word for it. Goodbye." and returned to coding. He then proceeded to tell me I was rude.

That is how I define rudeness. My question isn't whether or not rudeness exists for I have just given my definition but whether or not it is a good thing. Appropriately applied, I believe it is.

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

Ahh! (none / 0) (#82)
by mindstrm_2 on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:22:14 AM EST

I can relate to that situation quite closely. Having been interrupted from a rather rare and pleasant sort of coding trance, getting lots of work done, to have someone incoherently try to ask me about something like would the color printer work next week or something, I must agree.

I was rude. I know I was. They were rude too, though they may not realize it. It matters not. I know they feel I was rude in blowing them off, and I equally know that I feel they were rude. From that point, I don't feel *bad* at all, except: Do I want this person to feel that I was rude, will it impact our relationship in a manner that I don't want?

Of course, the proper result was to go speak with them when the coding trance ended, explain to them that I didn't mean to be rude, per-se, but that i was very busy and did not have time to deal with such a simple thing, adn that they should have realized that right away.

[ Parent ]
It's part of being HUMAN (3.50 / 4) (#44)
by paulerdos on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:39:13 PM EST

I am the type of person that likes to look at motivations and ideas behind what goes on on the surface of society. Why do people feel the need to say hello? Why do people feel the need to say "my pleasure" after they get thanked for something? Why do people do lots of silly and nonsensical things just because they think other people expect them to? And that last question is the basis of my argument for the myth of being rude.

The society you seem to be painting seems like a human society - without the humans. If we were all robots, we could easily do away with all those "useless" conventions. There would be no reason to say hello, no reason to say "my pleasure," no need to think about others' feelings.

But we're humans. This means we have certain feelings, and that certain "useless" actions make us feel a certain way. After I spend an hour of my time helping somebody with their problem set, I expect for them to say "thank you." And in return I will say "my pleasure." Is this "necessary" in the sense you mean? No. How will I feel if he doesn't even thank me after I helped him for an hour? Unappreciated.

This is how humans are. We are social creatures, and we derive certain feelings from social interaction. A beautiful sunset is by no means "necessary," but it is something that we appreciate and enjoy watching. Saying thank you and respecting others' feelings, (i.e. not interrupting someone's conversation for absolutely no reason at all), all these things are simply part of it.

About the black & white bit, I'm not even sure how to respond to that. All I can say is that it is much too simplistic a view for this real (non-robot) world. Most things are simply too complicated to be categorized naively as "black" or "white;" oftentimes part of it is black, and part of it is white. Take humans, for example: are we just "good" or just "bad" ? I'm sure you'd agree that it's an interesting shade of grey. If not, then I think we have reached the limit of conversation.

Rudeness -- a perspective (4.00 / 2) (#45)
by brainwane on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:45:09 PM EST

As I see it, what you're looking for are models, paradigms for understanding the concept of rudeness. Others have spoken of it as a term for violations of manners, and of manners as the equivalent of networking protocols or grease, lubricants that make social interaction easier in everyday life. Like driving on a certain side of the street -- an arbitrary, amoral system -- or possibly like extensions of our moral systems, respecting property, liberty, dignity, and so on.

Well, now that I've taken an international relations class, I think it sometimes helps to compare relations between individuals to relations among countries. Why do we use all these old, crufty systems of ambassadors and embassies and obsequious language instead of straight, honest talk? Because it's useful, and tradition has proved that it works, to paraphrase Winston Churchill on democracy, worst of all except for everything else. And when people violate the protocols, as when countries have their ambassadors speak frankly, that signals a change in the relationship.

Perhaps you should read the short story "City of Truth" it was a 1992 Nebula nominee, I believe. I can't recall the author. It posits a city where everyone, thanks to psychological and physical conditioning, tells the unvarnished truth -- no lies of omission, no pleasantries, no hypocrisy, no untruths of any sort. Since all art is a lie, art is banned. A metaphor is dastardly. I only seek to point out that "rude" people who do not consider themselves rude often consider themselves straightforward, or genuine, or approve of their own behavior through the value of truth. Yet, a society that values truth can lie on many places on a spectrum. And, as in art, "polite" conventions can be metaphors, seeming lies that convey truth, courtesies as the communication of a foundation of respect.

You call rudeness a "myth," and say that it is a person's decision to feel offended or not. Maybe many people have a false consciousness about rudeness as akin to immorality. But if you think of interpersonal relations, like international relations, as signal-sending, and think about the mixing-up of different kinds of signals in human language, then it might be easier to understand that rudeness may be a very real myth, as real as the government or any other human-created fancy.

Rudeness is about a few things. It's about intimacy, for one thing. Interrupting another person's conversation, or using the informal form of address instead of the formal (in French, Russian, etc.), is arrogating a level of intimacy that the Other has not, implicitly or explicitly, given to you. Why wouldn't you kiss a stranger at a bus stop? As well, we interperet pleasantries (e.g., "please," "thank you," "good day," "good-bye," "bless you," "excuse me," how are you") as signals of the underlying respectful relationship between or among the participants. Even in heated moments, people who still obey the rules of etiquette (as many sophisticated posters here understand and behave) can retain legitimacy, cordiality, and even friendship. If the whole world were to change to a new signaling system protocol, then perhaps I would give up saying "good day" to people about whom
I care little.

To wrap up (I'm out of time): I won't say, you should be polite because it's pragmatic, or because it costs you nothing. I would say that your inability or unwillingness to conform to etiquette degrades the quality of conversation with non-intimates, and perhaps even intimates, and, to use your philosophy, what you choose to do is up to you.

Your chicken, your egg, your problem.
City of Truth (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by autarch on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:58:17 AM EST

City of Truth was written by James Morrow, who is an excellent author. Highly recommended. City of Truth is a good one, though not his best (my favorites are Towing Jehovah and Blameless in Abaddon).

[ Parent ]
I'll give you rude... (1.66 / 3) (#47)
by delmoi on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:59:10 AM EST

how can you people dawdle on for such a long time harping on such a meaningless semantic construct? Are you being rude, are people just taking it that way? I'll give you the answer, it doesn’t f*cking matter.

Look, Being rude or not isn't about responsibility, or morals or anything else. No, it isn't your 'responsibility' to care about what others think about you, but what is going to be your problem is that people are not going to want to talk to you.

I am a firm believer in Black&White (in that I do not see any gray issues in anything/any decision ever)

How can you look at this picture and tell me that there is no gray in the world?

I take this to mean that you see things only as absolute right and absolute wrong. If that's the case, then you are absolutely wrong. Wrong and stupid. The only absolute in the real world is that nothing is absolute. I doubt you could come up with one example of something that is 'absolutely true' and not just either ambiguous or a human construct. In my experience what you call "Black&White" is simply a tool used by weak- and close-minded people who are to intellectually lazy to think about the real issues. They are the people who can't deal with ambiguity, so they simply wish it out of existence.

This post may have caused some cognitive dissonance in that small mind of yours if you actually thought about the content like someone with a brain. I doubt that happened. I doubt you would ever let any 'disturbing' thoughts ever breach that warm, safe barrier between 'wrong' and 'right'. But if you did, then it doesn't matter. I will not be held responsible for any comment that you CHOSE to get offended by.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
absolutes (1.00 / 2) (#50)
by farl on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 03:18:21 AM EST

please take the time to actually read my comments. I am not saying that i believe in absolute right and wrong, i am just saying i choose one way or another. Hopefully you can understand this simple difference.

As an aside, of course i know about the color gray. please try to keep your silly asides relevant.

[ Parent ]
um, right.... (3.00 / 3) (#65)
by delmoi on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:36:25 AM EST

I am a firm believer in Black&White (in that I do not see any gray issues in anything/any decision ever),

I am not saying that i believe in absolute right and wrong, i am just saying i choose one way or another

Well, if that's what you thought you said in the first artical, you're stupider then I thought.

Well, I actualy don't think you're stupid, and under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have said it. But since you're 'rejecting' rudeness, there really isn't any reason not to.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
You prove my point... (1.00 / 2) (#70)
by farl on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:16:13 AM EST

Well, if that's what you thought you said in the first artical, you're stupider then I thought. Well, I actualy don't think you're stupid, and under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have said it.

Thats a good argument - contradict yourself from one sentence to another.

Besides, if (a) you believe in rudeness - you just proved yourself to be rude and an idiot in turn, or (b) you don't believe in rudeness - you proved yourself an idiot for arguing against me.

But don't worry - I am sure people will mod this comment down just because they don't agree with me!

[ Parent ]
Inconsistent definitions of rudeness (4.00 / 2) (#48)
by magney on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:57:14 AM EST

I actually suspect that the fundamental problem you have with the concept of "rudeness" is that modern society has so many conflicting defintions of rudeness that it's nigh impossible to guess what will or will not be considered rude. The decision by a man whether to hold a door open for a woman or not to is probably the canonical example - some women will be offended if you hold it open, while others will be offended if you don't. (I'm familiar mostly with the United States' array of cultures, but the same sort of problems probably occur in some of the other more cosmopolitan parts of the world.)

And to top it all off, some people are just more easily offended than others.

This isn't a reason to reject the entire concept of rudeness out of hand. There are plenty of actions that are considered rude almost universally within your culture, besides the obvious examples of physical violence.

My own approach is to pick a concept of politeness that makes the most sense to me, and be prepared to defend it to others. For example, I tend to hold a door open for anyone who's approaching close enough behind me, male or female; if a woman were to be offended, I'd briefly try to explain this to them, and go on my way...

Other: Do you think I'm some kind of weakling you have to pamper?!
Me: Well-
Other: I mean, would you hold a door open for a man?!
Me (without hesitation): Yes!
Other: (pause for a brief fraction of a second)
Me: (make my escape
This isn't that different from your approach in practice (inasmuch as neither of us lets ourselves be too concerned if we're misinterpreted) - but the difference in theory is considerable.

I think humanity would be better off, not without the concept of rudeness altogether, but with a more or less unambiguous and universal concept, so that we don't have to play guessing games about what will or will not offend others.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?

A real-life example from work (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by oleandrin on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:08:51 AM EST

Rude comment: "That won't work at all. We're going to have to rearchitect the whole thing. Maybe we can salvage something. You sure wasted a lot of time. What's your degree in again?"

Not-rude comment: "Don't forget to take Factor X into account. How's that going to affect the architecture? Probably in interfaces Y and Z, right?"

Is that right? I think that's "being rude". But it could also be defined as completely different stuff like cutting ahead of someone in a line. Generally, a person is rude when they violate the basic social principles of the society. If someone says hello to you, and you want right by then without a word, they might think you were purposely ignoring them, that you're upset with them, that you hate their guts, and other things.

But, it can also be things like participating in a flamewar on a public mailing list. It's just not a nice thing to do.

For example, some might consider the following statement rude (others will consider it merely blunt!):
"Rudeness is a simple concept. Either you get it or you don't."

here's a question for you? (3.33 / 6) (#54)
by streetlawyer on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:22:55 AM EST

Why do people feel the need to say hello? Why do people feel the need to say "my pleasure" after they get thanked for something? Why do people do lots of silly and nonsensical things just because they think other people expect them to?

Why do people assume that if they can't find an objective standard for something, that it isn't a valid concept? Perhaps such a stern type as yourself could provide me with an objectively verifiable reason why the universe has to shape itself to this taste of yours.

Yes, there is no standard of what is "absolutely" rude. Yes, it depends on convention. Yes, people can disagree on what is and is not rude, and there is no method of deciding between them.

On the other hand, so what? The same can be said of, say, "value". Your argument, if applied in similar fashion would suggest that a dollar bill is as valuable as a cowrie shell, which in turn is as valuable as gold bar or a raccoon's penis-bone. The fact that something is socially constructed doesn't mean that there isn't a fact of the matter.

Rudeness and its opposite are examples of what has been called "phatic communication"; the pre-lingual content of all human interactions which is to recognise each other's humanity or otherwise. If you open a door for someone, or belch after a meal, or rub their nose (to take various examples), then you are communicating to them that you regard them as important. If you interrupt them, or place your hand on their head, or allow your feet to point toward them, then you are communicating to them that you do not regard them as worth the trouble it would take you to avoid offending them. Ignorance of the convention on your part, of course, does not change its communicative content.

I'm never rude to anyone *unintentionally*. I pay attention to what I'm communicating. Which is why even people that I regularly insult the crap out of tend to end up liking me, because at the same time I'm loudly informing them of their inadequacies, I'm communicating the phatic content to them that I regard them as an important human being. That's the difference between being unpleasant, and just being rude.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Rude boys (3.00 / 1) (#55)
by slaytanic killer on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:23:15 AM EST

Interesting article. My general thinking about this subject is that if one feels strapped to the society/relationship/city, then she very often will be rude. People tend to be rude only when they're neurotic, or if they're so bored of their situation that things such as manners become meaningless in their eyes.

The same people who argue against rudeness often find justifications for not caring about important things, such as people starving or children being raped in the nearby bad neighborhoods. I have to admit, there have been times in my life I'd just stare at someone dully for complaining about something that is almost nothing, relative to atrocities that happen just a few miles away.

But travelling a lot and getting personally involved inside a culture tends to make someone both more detached and more interested. And perhaps the best thing to do when someone complains about something trivial, is just to listen carefully, since maybe that's all he needed, and will be able to look beyond his situation later.

OK... (3.00 / 2) (#56)
by gregholmes on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:43:59 AM EST

Be as rude as you want, your perogative. Just don't be shocked when people recognize you as rude and treat you accordingly.

Ok, there is no rudeness in the world. (3.50 / 4) (#57)
by pb on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 07:15:32 AM EST

a) suppose I agree with you.

b) This article SUCKS! Let's all talk about something INTERESTING instead of this CRAP! Hey, guys, why are you letting Farl waste your VALUABLE TIME here?

c) Either we have a contradiction, or (b) was me politely notifying you that your argument is pointless. :)

d) Life could be a dream...
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
Rudeness (3.50 / 2) (#79)
by Malicose on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 03:10:37 PM EST

This article SUCKS! Let's all talk about something INTERESTING instead of this CRAP! Hey, guys, why are you letting Farl waste your VALUABLE TIME here?

My view on this is as follows.
  • Your statement is rude to you, but may not necessarily be rude to farl (or anyone else). Attempting to prove your point to him by telling him what must be rude to him in unreasonable. That is, stating something you consider is rude--though it makes it rude to you--does not guarantee a universal rudeness. I think this is the point farl is trying to make.
  • Personally, I would classify your statement as nothing more than an unfounded position on a topic (an opinion) and reject its merit. Whether this is rude or not is completely subjective, as all "rude" things are. Its rudeness only concerns how one interprets the statement. I certainly don't find this offensive, merely unsubstantiated.
  • I read someone else state something to the effect of, "Try calling a bank officer you're trying to get a loan from a jackass and see what happens." To this I have to say that it's all part of sucking up to someone. Laughing at something even slightly politically incorrect while in front of a member of that group might be considered rude to him or her. However, you might not consider it rude, but possibly recognize how someone else could (and therefore avoid such mishaps when applying for job, etc.) If you'd been raised in a situation where jackass was a normal word to use, you more than likely wouldn't find it the least bit offensive. To expand on this, imagine a foreigner who happens to speak a language in which a word for something common, such as a greeting, is the same as an English curse. If this person moved to the United States and went to a church (for example) and used this word (without knowing it was swearing here) in conversation with someone, the person might consider the action rude.

    [ Parent ]
  • Well.... yeah... (1.50 / 2) (#80)
    by pb on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:29:47 PM EST

    That's what point (d) was trying to cover.

    Since 'rudeness' requires opinions from two parties, it relies on other people's perceptions of reality as well as your own.

    Therefore, this could all be a dream of mine. Or of someone else's. Questions like this are truly useless, because there are no good ways to resolve them. I lump it into the same category as "The Universe was created 5 minutes ago." Maybe, maybe not, but who cares?
    "See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
    -- pwhysall
    [ Parent ]
    Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. (4.20 / 5) (#58)
    by jemal on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 07:40:00 AM EST

    Rudeness is real. As has been demonstrated by the other comments in this post, it can easily be demonstrated by calling you a slack-jawed moron with crap for brains.

    But a better point to make is why it's important not to be rude. Believe it or not, you have an obligation to be nice to people - it's part of how society works. Don't believe me? Try to get a loan at your bank while calling the loan officer a jackass in every sentence. Try to get a date from that pretty girl you like, and use the "c" word as often as you can.

    Being nice to people is important. It's part of what makes society work. For further info, start reading Judith Martin's "Miss Manners" collumn.

    More examples (none / 0) (#60)
    by codemonkey_uk on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 08:02:59 AM EST

    It would be rude to stand someone up on a date. It has practical concequences, it wastes their time.

    In the article the example is given of interupting someone, for a laugh. It was funny because it was absurd, but, as with most jokes, it would not be funny if it was continued repeatedly. How could you get any work done if everybody who felt like it interupted you, without reason?

    As this poster asserts, manners exist for a reason. These rules of ettiquete evolved because they improved the efficiancy of the group (not that I'm advocating group evolution - thats a whole other story).

    In the end it can be summed up like this: Life is a game, its rules are set by the players, if you don't play by the rules people will stop playing with you. That wouldn't be much fun would it?

    Also, if you try it (farl, not the poster to whom I'm replying) you might just find that it feels good to be nice. :)

    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
    [ Parent ]
    lubricant (none / 0) (#86)
    by gregholmes on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 08:40:30 AM EST

    Absolutely. Poilteness is the oil in the gears of the social machinery.

    [ Parent ]
    "Rude" is real... (1.00 / 2) (#59)
    by ubu on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 08:00:16 AM EST

    ...and I applaud it!

    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    Societal constructs do not exist? (4.00 / 1) (#69)
    by claudius on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 10:38:34 AM EST

    If I understand your argument, you are saying in essence that since rudeness is a social construct that it does not exist. It is merely the interpretation by the offended of the actions of the offender, and since no precise boundaries exist to determine whether an action is an act of rudeness, that no action can therefore be considered rude. This is a logical fallacy. Many things exist that lack hard boundaries or that defy rigourous definition: clouds, farts, the notion of disarray, bad management, the feeling of ecstasy. Did your parents love you? Please provide a precise definition of "love."

    -1, silly.

    *** UPDATE - PLEASE READ *** (3.66 / 3) (#72)
    by farl on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:41:43 AM EST

    Since its obvious to everyone now that I drink baby's blood, shoot small furry pets, run old women down in my car, and generally run amok amongst society, I think I should point out a few things for you commentators to take into consideration.

    • Most of you who are bound by your social dictates of "rudeness" will be extremely rude by just ignoring this set of comments. Most of you will ignore them just so that you can make yourselves feel better and attack me (and my argument). If you don't believe this, read some of the comments posted before this one and notice the distinct lack of consideration for reading ANYONE's comments and responses before posting replies.
    • Most of you seem to think that just because I don't believe in the social norm of being rude, that it means that I am always rude. Let's stop making assumptions here please. You just make yourselves look silly by making this logical blunder. I am actually almost unfailingly polite. I am courteous, helpful, friendly and well mannered. I believe in courtesy, I just don't believe in rudeness.
    • I don't rape, pillage and destroy. I would REALLY like to know where some of the posters seem to have read this idea into what I said. Let's drop this already. It's a rather large assumption based on some very weak logic. It would be like me saying "That since I do not agree with you, you are obviously a rapist." Obvious sillyness.
    • Consider your own arguments. (a) You believe in rudeness, and by personal attacking me in the comments as many are you are having a lot of fun doing, you cross your own line of being rude. (b) You don't believe in rudeness, so by attacking me personally you don't really add anything of value to the conversation.
    • The social concept of rudeness is interesting as defined by many cultures. Just because I don't believe in rudeness, doesn't mean that I am stupid and am not aware that it exists for many other people. I don't belittle them for their belief, I just don't believe it myself. As some similar examples, it might be like belief in a God/s, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, etc. (well we all know Santa Claus is real, but that's another argument). This is not inconsistent or illogical. It's merely an expression of my own personal belief system. That is not saying that yours is invalid, but rather it is different to mine. This is a very fundamental point.
    • While the article deals with rudeness, when you read it well and follow the train of comments, you will (hopefully) realize it is a lot about choice, and finding your own personal belief system, and most importantly being comfortable with your own beliefs. Many people here are deviations (not used in a bad sense) from the societal norm. That's what makes this site interesting - because people here tend to be more aware.
    • Stop calling me a geek. As referenced in another article on kuro5hin.org, this label is a rather bad one IMHO. Stop grouping me amongst any sort of label in fact. Accept that some people might actually be individuals who belong to many groups and as such, cannot be classified by any one of them.
    • When I mentioned in one of my comments that I speak English from a South African English perspective of word choice and meaning, the person who had posed me that question originally proceeded to attack me on it. Now that is an impressive argument from the other person. Let us try not to hold me guilty of whatever preconceptions, misconceptions and just plain ignorance you might have about me and where I come from. Unless you grew up with me, you don't really have a base to stand on in this point.
    Take a look at yourselves. If you got upset about this whole topic, try to look at why and learn something more about yourselves. What does that say about you? About your beliefs? About your ingrained, subconscious decisions? Let's rather learn from this thread than use it as a springboard to attack other people.


    I *am* trying to learn! (none / 0) (#73)
    by whatnotever on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 12:49:44 PM EST

    It's just not going so well. This is obviously a difficult topic to discuss.

    My previous comment was not an attack or a claim that you think it's okay to hurt people. I was presenting an example that fit into what I perceived of your argument, hoping that you would explain the difference. It's simple: I don't understand your beliefs and I would like to.

    My best understanding of it thus far is that you don't think you've done anything wrong unless you meant to do something wrong. Is that it?

    It would be nice if you could respond to everyone's comments (well, those that aren't pure flame), but I suppose you may not have the time for that...

    And I'm still interested in your "Black&White" belief also...

    [ Parent ]
    Re: learning (1.00 / 2) (#75)
    by farl on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:44:21 PM EST

    I do liek your approach. Arguing a point out to learn is a great way to help to come to terms with your own beliefs and ideas. It is a very healthy way to live IMHO. And i wasnt saying that every person was attacking me personally, but that a lot of them are.

    As for right and wrong, i dont think rudeness applies to right and wrong. The whole concepts of right and wrong are an entirely different topic MUCH more involved than this one.

    I try not to be rude by other people's standards/beliefs becuase i do not enjoy making other people confrontational/upset. I suppose it has a lot to do with the intent of the comment/action that is perceived to be "rude".

    [ Parent ]
    But you hit it on the head! right there! (none / 0) (#81)
    by mindstrm_2 on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:12:16 AM EST

    "I try not to be rude by other people's standards/beliefs because i do not enjoy making them confrontational/upset".

    What you probably mean is that you don't enjoy dealing with them when they become upset/confrontational, which amounts to a standard social deterrent for the said rude (to use your own words) behavior. Whether you found the behavior 'rude' is of no consequence. If you continued to exhibit such behavior even knowing it agitated and upset those around you, then by THEIR definition, you would be labeled as a 'rude' person. ANd they would be right.

    IT's contextual, for sure, and defined by individual microsocieties.. but it sounds to me like you are trying to make some kind of postmodernistic philosophical argument about the definition of the word 'rude', rather than anything else.

    In other words, by admitting that you recognize that certain behaviors of yours at certain times may be percieved as rude by others, and their reactions may impact your psychological well being in a negative fashion, you just gave a definition of 'being rude'.

    [ Parent ]
    Lovely, now back to the point (none / 0) (#87)
    by jemal on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 10:51:54 AM EST

    Great fine. But you're basically acknowledging that rudeness exists. You say that you're generally polite - but if there is no rudeness, there is no politeness.

    More importantly, there is no point in politeness if there is no rudeness. Why should you care about people's feelings if you don't believe that your actions can hurt them? Hmmm?

    It's easy to attack those on the extreme, but try going after those posts that are better constructed. That's why they get moderated up - so you can pay more attention to them.

    [ Parent ]

    politeness (none / 0) (#89)
    by Lion on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 01:36:28 PM EST

    I think he meant that he's what is considered to be polite, by most people's standards.
    He does not believe in the concept, but it's fair enough to give a description of behavior using "known" reference points.

    [ Parent ]
    The protocols/rituals of society (4.50 / 2) (#74)
    by Quar on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:03:04 PM EST

    This may seem to ramble but it was being updated while others continued to post.

    2 great quotes to live life by.

    1)Politeness is the grease that makes society work smoothly.
    2)You cant _give_ offense, you can only take it.

    Let me explain my take on each. Jemal gives great examples of the first one farther down(1). It makes life easier, and requires little thought. In interactions with strangers it can provide an external validation of ones existance or ego stroking. This may seem silly but try it the next time you are dealing with a help desk/customer service type of person. Most of those jobs the person is doing a repitious job in which they are bored or unfullied. By making them be "real" to someone other than themselves does wonders. This is part of being in a society.

    The definition of rudeness/politeness is most definately a societial construct. Having grown up in the south, I call anyone more than 10 years older than me sir and ma'am. To do otherwise is rude, to me. However there is two people who I call by thier first names. They are from the north and have always insisted that I do so, so not to is rude to them. Bilxco(2) went into it more so I wont restate him. But like many others have said, please dont be surprised when people react negatively when you don't fit in thier box. Doesn't mean you're right, nor does it mean they are.

    Now you have said that politeness is not the opposite of being rude, but if you ask someone how _not_ to be rude, 9 times out of 10 I bet they would say be polite. And what it almost seems to be is that you take the stance of... commplete middle ground when it comes to social interaction. You wont provoke someone but wont go out of you to be nice either. If this is incorrect Id love to hear why you dont do those things listed.(3) Im betting that for we should try to break it into 3 possible options, not 2 : rude, neutral, polite.

    Therefore, !rude != polite, and !polite != rude. Wonderful tri-state logic.

    Leviathan(4) mentioned that rude != offensive. Im not sure I would completely agree that its a subset, but they are very similar. For myself someone is rude if they dont meet the what has been determined as the social rules for the setting (bowing to leave the mat at a dojo or taking a hat off when entering a room). Something is offensive if they dont meet my _moral_ expectations. This leads into my second quote.

    Now let me explain this. Its not as simple as it seems. As I just defined as offensive, is a personal

    thing. However we dont walking around with signs around our neck listing off out likes and dislikes.
    However that does not mean we can not take responsability for saying what we did. There are consequences for every action and we must deal with an environment of out own making. I have many many times _offended_ people but was able to resolve the situtation to a level that myself and the other party was happy.

    The same cant be said for be social environments. By what is fed to us by outside sources, we determine how to interact in said environments. When some disrupts these expectations, its rude. Now, yes, people should always be aware of thier own prejudices and sterotypes but also try to consider how you would look from those streotypes. Rudeness is on an environemental level, and offense is on an object/personal level.

    A great way to look at the interaction between people this way is consider it like a wireless computer network. When you first see someone enter a room, thats the equivalent of updating the arptable. Saying hi and other small talk is like pinging a computer on the network. And acutal conversation is ftp/telnet/etc. And for verbal conversation, you can only really maintain 1 stream at a time, so you have semiphore if trying to talk to more than one person. A sneeze is like a garbled packet, ackowledged by other people to be "ignored". Also consider priorities when interupting an on going conversation. When someone is rude, its as if they are trying to force a change in the comminications without the proper protocals.

    Your desciption of B&W could restated as 1 OR 0. Binary. No .5, 2/3, etc. Just X solid divisions/possibilities. That could be what is tripping up other people.

    Finally, this now being added in response to your most recent post. I dont think that people are trying to attack _you_ per se, but more trying to disect your theologies/philosiphies in an attempt to understand.Your update stated that its all about your own personal beliefs. Thats right. But remeber _you_ must keep up with _mine_. And the reverse is just as true. Thats a big part of the social contract that we exercise everyday by just being a member of a society.

    (1) http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory;sid=2000/12/6/163131/366#58
    (2) http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=comments&sid=2000/12/6/163131/366&pid=27#40
    (3) http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=comments&sid=2000/12/6/163131/366&pid=26#27
    (4) http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=comments&sid=2000/12/6/163131/366&pid=1#63

    Misunderstanding of "interruption" (4.00 / 1) (#77)
    by Ixohoxi on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:09:32 PM EST

    Many of you have no idea why the people arguing were interrupted. I think the friend who interrupted them simply wanted them to stop arguing, maybe even forget about what was angering them. I saw his actions as peacemaking, and his friend simply thought it was funny. Most of you don't see any reason whatsoever why he interrupted the people "talking", but there could be one. In all this talk of rudeness, nobody thinks the interruptor was acting out of kindness?

    Re: Interrupting (1.00 / 2) (#78)
    by farl on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:14:03 PM EST

    Well as true as your observation is for many similar cases, I must be honest and say my friend did it just for the laugh of it.

    As an aside, it did have a peacemaking effect. The two individuals forgot what they were arguing about and stop fighting in the middle of the street. Oftentimes arguements can get to the point where they are so silly, you forget your original bone of contention.

    [ Parent ]
    Tradition (4.00 / 1) (#85)
    by renai42 on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 05:57:08 AM EST

    People act the way they do because we are nothing more than the sum of the stimuli that we recieve - that and our genes.

    For our entire lives, external stimuli has been providing examples of the right and wrong way to act - for example, if someone interrupts a conversation, when we were young we might have been impressed by the fact that other people glared at them.

    Later on, in life, we resist the urge to interrupt conversations.

    Some of us choose to reject these example we have witnessed and follow a different path that we have thought about. Society calls us individuals, rebels, troublemakers or geniuses, depending on the impact this rejection has on society.

    This is the way society has evolved; my advice is to consider all the arguments, then make your own choice about how to react to other people's actions.

    or, in other words (4.00 / 1) (#90)
    by speek on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 12:19:27 PM EST

    "I'm an INDIVIDUAL, and don't need the rest of you fuckers. Go to hell."

    I see a lot of people saying things like "we are fundamentally individuals", and they often believe people who speak of "society" are making a logical mistake. However, just because you can't point to the person who makes the decisions for the whole, doesn't mean no such decision is being made. It's just on a level that we can't fully see, and, you can't fully control.

    If you've upset someone, then, you and that person have, together, created feelings of anger in that other person toward you. No big deal. Do it often enough and long enough to enough people, and you will feel effects. The concepts of "rudeness" and the like are simplified explanations of a complicated process that you, as an individual, have no control over.

    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

    The myth of being "Rude" | 90 comments (88 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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