Why do so many people read any statement, no matter how innocuous, as being about them? For example, I have mentioned my dislike of chocolate and people have gotten cranky. As if my chocolate hatred will somehow deprive them of it. Huh?
Every time I talk about my love of fashion someone says, “I just want comfortable clothes! Give me jeans and t-shirts!” Which always strikes me as deeply bizarre because a) no one has said a word against jeans and t-shirts, b) t-shirts and jeans are items of fashion, c) having a desire for a ballgown does not mean that person doesn’t also wear jeans and t-shirts. (For the record I am wearing jeans and a New York Liberty t-shirt as I type this. Though I wish I were in my even-more-comfortable pjs, but guests are arriving shortly.)
Colour me puzzled.
I thought everyone understood that people are not all the same. We have different tastes and interests and desires. And hallelujah for that—if we were all the same the world would be a truly boring place.
Why do people keep being affronted by other people caring about something they don’t care about? If it doesn’t interest you, don’t engage. Why the need to tell the world that you hate and/or are bored by it? Why do people read a long post in which someone sets forth their love of antelopes as saying that everyone must like antelopes. You are free to hate antelopes! Go forth and hate antelopes!1 But, you know, don’t bore the person who just spent time and energy waxing eloquent about their love of antelopes. You can take it as read that their interest in your antelope hatred is zero.
I love a good ballgown. I would never make anyone else wear a ballgown.2 I truly loathe chocolate. I have given chocolate as a present to many people. I have even made chocolate cake for a friend. I don’t get why they like it since it tastes like death to me but, you know, it seems to make them happy so good for them.
I suspect that what I’m really asking is why do so many people think everything is about them? I know the ego is a powerful thing. Hey, I’ve got one too. And yet . . .
Let me put this in terms of writing: if you’re unable to empathise or understand people who are not like you, who have different tastes and aspirations, it’s going to be really hard for you to write about anyone but yourself. Only writing about yourself is going to limit the appeal of your writing considerably.3
Thus endeth the rant.
I’d be really interested to hear your theories on this perplexing matter.4
- Poor antelopes. [↩]
- Except for John Scalzi and only because it would make me laugh. [↩]
- Though it seems to have worked out really well for a handful of writers I won’t name out of fear. [↩]
- Unless you’re one of those crazy chocolate loving people. Just kidding. Some of my best friends love chocolate. I even married a chocolate lover. [↩]