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no, really, f**k you

one of the things that i've learned observing my cats over the years is that they have a perfect way of dealing with things that offend or annoy them. anyone who's spent any amount of time around cats will be able to tell you that there is absolutely no doubt when you've done something wrong. i consider myself very fortunate to have shared some time with a cat who was particularly expressive in that regard. her general approach was to sit close by, make sure that she had your attention and then pointedly turn her back to you.

she'd do that for even the smallest slight because, as far as she was concerned, manners counted. it wasn't important whether you'd been late feeding her or tripped over her on the way up the stairs. somehow, you had acted unacceptably and you were made aware of that in no uncertain terms.

i think of this whenever i get criticised, not infrequently, for being overly sensitive. i wish that i could conjure up the image of the cat, who doesn't particularly care how important YOU find your trespass to be, but wants you to understand how important SHE finds it to be.

what other people call sensitivity, i generally refer to as being polite. if i get concerned with the way in which people address me or others, it's because i think that, if you're going to open your mouth, you should be able to exercise some control over what comes out of it. start by thinking about how you'd react to the same thing being said to you. even better, just start by thinking.

people who do routinely grate on my nerves for being "insensitive" generally fall into one of two categories:

- people who are just socially clueless and whose linguistic skills qualify them as barely coherent. this is the group that eco would refer to as "cretins", the kind of people who blurt out pretty much anything and can't really be expected to think about the effect of what they're about to say, because they can't be expected to think at all.

- insecure people who will say just about anything in order to diminish others, in a rather sad attempt to build themselves up. these are the people who might seem friendly and intelligent most of the time, who probably are friendly and intelligent (to some degree) most of the time, but who offer criticism at every opportunity (particularly if there's an audience present) and who are generally quick to point out their own achievements in any arena. they're also distinguished by their complete inability to accept even the slightest criticism about themselves.

what puzzles me is that the fact that i don't especially want to tolerate the idiocy of those sorts of people is seen as a character flaw on my part. because it's more common to shoot your mouth off, obnoxiousness becomes the social standard to which the rest of us should conform.

perhaps i'm old fashioned. but, if you've ever seen the movie 'hannibal', where clarice is talking about how the titular killer singles out people who he finds to be impolite? i get that.

but really, i just wish that there was something i could do that was as pointed and unmistakable as a cat.

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