Two interesting blog posts…   Leave a comment

So, I haven’t adressed any direct skeptical issues in this blog, and I’ll come back later to the reasons for that. But there are a couple of blog posts I’ve read lately which I feel compelled to comment upon, at least a little bit.

So, since I’m talking about two blog posts, obviously I’ll have to link them, and obviously you’ll have to read them first. And I suggest you read them both back to back.

The first one.

The second one.

Really, you need to read them both if the rest of this blog post is going to make any sense.

Now, to be sure, these two posts are more or less unrelated. One of them is adressing a certain community, while the other one is about life at large. However, I just can’t help to feel that it would be interesting for the two authors of the respective pieces to meet. Because it appears to me these are two people with vastly different experiences in life.

Perhaps most peculiar is the plea in the first post: “Do not change for me, do not change for someone else.” So basically, if someone who is uncomfortable with dick and boob jokes flying around is having any interest in being part of the skeptical community, it’s them that will have to change. They should shut up and obediently laugh at the right places, even if the experience is making it significantly more likely to turn them away from the whole scene. Apparently, it’s more important for the skeptical community to have boob and dick jokes flying all over the place, than putting up some consideration for those whose lives have been experiences that have turned them off such things.

And more importantly, that sentence seems to assume that humans are static. They’re not. Humans are social creatures, and we adjust our behaviour absolutely all the time based on who we have social interaction with. Part of who I am is to tell silly jokes with a whole lot of sexual content implied (or spoken outright). Part of who I am is to -not- tell those jokes. All about the audience.

You want to know the darker side of me? Well, here goes: I am Norwegian, and you might recall that on the 22nd of July 2011, Norway made the news thanks to a terrorist attack. All the more shocking because our country is pretty damn peaceful. Now, on the same night of the attack, I read news reports about how subway security in Oslo would stop people that didn’t look ethnically Norwegian. Seeing as the terrorist turned out to be a picture-perfect stereotype Norwegian (tall, blonde hair, blue eyes) that turned out to look pretty stupid.

So I wrote a satirical article that very night about how the security would now stop everyone Norwegian, meant for a Norwegian satire news site (sort of like The Onion). The editor of the site said that he did in fact like the article personally, but he wouldn’t publish it because it wouldn’t feel right, and a hell of a lot of people would complain to them. A few days later, when the site did handle it, they did something far more tasteful about the subject.

Did I press the subject? No. I didn’t. In fact, I told him that I expected it to be rejected. I knew it was probably stepping over a few lines. I was compelled to write it, but I wasn’t compelled to have everyone read it. Insofar that there is a real me – the part of me that only has to consider what I think is funny and appropriate – that part wrote the article. But the part of me that socially interacts with other people didn’t mind that the “real me” didn’t get to go public.

A far less extreme example is when I visited my father for his 60th birthday. It was a low-key thing, with me, my father, his live-in, and some of her relatives, including a man that was bald. Now, during the dinner, I made some joking comments in general, nothing special, and I also learned that this man was working at a place that had been in danger of being closed down for the last few years. Instantly, I thought to ask him if working under the conditions had made him tear out his hair in frustration, explaining his baldness.

Of course, thinking about asking that and actually doing it is two quite different things. A lot of men don’t like the fact that they’re going bald, and while one can surely argue that it might be a bit of a first world problem, dismissing their feeling on the subject is in fact pretty mean. On the other hand, my impression of  this person seemed to be the kind that could take such a joke.

I decided to take the risk and use the joke. And he laughed heartily about it. My impression was, thankfully, correct. But even as I spoke it, I was fully aware that I might have been wrong on that, and that he’d be mad at me. If he had been, I would have apologised. And I would have meant it. I even told him this later on, and also that if he was in fact annoyed but put on a good face, then he’d have the chance to tell me.

(Incidentally, he told me that he had never met a person who could switch back and forth between silly and serious so fast and seamlessly as I dido it. I was a bit proud of that description.)

And here is the point of this story: If he had been annoyed at this joke, then I wouldn’t actually have changed in any way as I apologise. Because the real me is someone who is capable to both make playful jokes -and- feel bad about it if they step over some lines of the receipient. The real me can be naughty, but is generally not mean (unless someone pisses me off). And the real me takes some time to assess the personality of the people I’m interacting with socially before starting with the naughty jokes.

In short, the real me will tell boob jokes to Mallorie. The equally real me also won’t tell the same jokes to av flox. The real me might disagree with someone who says it’s sexist to tell boob jokes, but at the same time, the real me won’t dismiss that they are uncomfortable hearing those jokes. As the story in the second blog shows, there may very well be reasons for it that I haven’t considered. And since all of this is part of me, I feel that I’m not really changing anything about me when being in situations where I would have liked to tell a boob joke, but constrain myself; that’s already part of who I am.

I am a clown, and as such, I take clowning seriously.

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Posted 17/01/2012 by Emperor Norton II in Challenging myself

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