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25 Things About Other People

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One of the things that's been bothering me, and many of my friends on Myspace and Facebook, is the endlessly solipsistic stream of friends posting surveys about themselves or the results of quizzes they've taken evaluating everything from what kind of blood type they should be to which major World War or random kitchen object best represents them.

It occured to me that we might start pooling our collective wisdom about each other after all this time, to see what we've really learned.  So I've decided to start with my own list. In the vein of 25 Things About Me, that ubiquitous meme floating about social networking sites everywhere, I give you:

25 Things About Other People:

1.  Most people hide their suffering better than you think; you pass dozens of people a day on the street without any idea how well they're wearing their tragedies. 

2.  People's names are the sweetest sounds they hear.  You should make a point of being good at learning and using them.

3.  People love to spread their misery around, but not as much as they enjoy being lifted out of it.

4.  Being young is not in and of itself an achievement.  Neither is being beautiful.  But people often treat you as if they are.

5.  For a lot of people, music is a reflection of who they are and their relationship to life.  Remember that before insulting someone's tastes in music.

6.  The Golden Age never existed.  People are always trying to get back to a time when things were simpler and better.  The world was a far more dangerous place 50 years ago, especially if you were black or a woman or gay or diagnosed with cancer. 

7.  Most people, whatever their choice of profession, feel like complete novices who are about to be found out as frauds and fakers.

8.  Most people love quite helplessly, despite what they would have you believe.

9.  Show me the most beautiful woman in the world, and I'll show you a man who's bored with taking her to bed.  Show me the most devoted husband, and I'll show you a woman who feels that he's just not doing enough.  A lot of people are never satisfied because… 

10.  Most people have no idea what they want out of life, let alone how to get it.  Most others are still waiting for someone to give them permission.

11.  Whatever it is about yourself that you're trying to hide, it's usually the first thing someone else notices about you.

12.  You should call your mother and tell her you love her.  Like most women who decide to marry and have children or help take care of a dying parent, she probably sacrificed a lot of her dreams to be there for you, and she wishes that you appreciated her more for it.  Susan Boyle represented this demographic powerfully, but for every one like her, there were a thousand women like your mother who will never get that standing ovation.

13.  If you tell a man about your problems, he assumes you want some sort of help or advice.  If you tell a woman about your problems, she assumes you simply want a shoulder to cry on.  Women rarely want to be told what to do about a problem, and men rarely want to be coddled through a hard time. 

14.  Creative people thrive on feedback.  You can never give them enough of it, and you will endear yourselves to them mightily if you do it frequently, thoughtfully, and honestly.  They understand the value of time far better than most think. 

15.  For most people religion is a social commitment more than a spiritual one.

16.  A lot of people who consider themselves intelligent can't properly label all the states on a map, or all the countries in Europe, let alone Africa or the Middle East.  Most couldn't list off the ten commandments, five pillars, or the amendments of the Constitution, and feel that politics are too complicated to bother with understanding, let alone talking about. 

17.  A lot of Christians have never, and will never, read the Bible.  Most of them will conduct their lives exactly as they would if they'd never attended a single church service.  It is nearly impossible to tell a Christian from an atheist by their actions alone.  Both Christians and atheists will probably find the previous statement offensive.

About Jasmine Anderson

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/diana-hartman/ Diana Hartman

    Excellent, excellent article. Poignant, unsentimental, and quite meaningful. Here’s hoping it is widely read, and widely practiced.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Indeed. Helluva piece, thanks for sharing it!

    I especially need to work on practicing #25.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Each is a sound advice, Jasmine, no doubt about it. It’s still a cookbook approach to fixing your personality. It makes a person into a little mindless robot, or Ms Manners, if behavior doesn’t proceed from within.

    You’re not to be blamed, of course. We’ve had that trend in the ’60s – a whole bunch of how-to books; and that trend is resurfacing, if only because of the internet and social networking, the sign of the times. And the idea is to make us into socially acceptable persons, perfect in every way. Still, it’s only behavior or at best, manners.

    Why don’t you focus on one of your points – #25, for instance, that Jordan’s having problem with – and do an in-depth analysis.
    I, for one, would be interested to hear why is it important “to forgive and forget,” or “not to hold grudges,” or “to resolve real or perceived differences.” Is it just a matter of being socially acceptable or perhaps something much more important is at work? And if you were to do that, I can assure you that Jordan, and many like him, would have far less problem living up to that maxim.

    Of course, you can say that each and every point on your list is self-evident and immediately apparent. Maybe so. But in that case, why is it that we have such a hard time getting along, or carry on a polite conversation with those we disagree, and a whole bunch of things which plague human relations. Is it because we don’t have the list handy or are simply forgetful?

    I think the reasons go deeper.

  • Jasmine Anderson

    @Roger: These aren’t really meant to be anything more than observations about other people. Like 25, what I mean is that, from what I’ve seen, people are far more willing to forgive a slight if you simply cop to it, than if you play dumb. Who wants to be around a social idiot? Keep them away. Having said that. If you would read in depth analysis of any of these, I would gladly write them. I don’t agree to the cookbook method of personality either. So, point taken, my friend.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I understand that, Jasmine. I suppose I overreacted to the idea of a list.

    I just thought I’d comment rather than not – and I meant it in a general kind of way rather than to you, personally – about the pitfalls inherent in the cookbook approach.
    It’s so prevalent these days that I decided to speak against it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    In fact, Jasmine, let me refer you a piece on BC, Sci/Tech section, To Fellow Bloggiers, where I criticize pop culture.

    It’ll give you a better feel for the context which precipitated my remark.

  • http://www.futonreport.net Matthew T. Sussman

    All these tenets, if rendered true, makes the Internet exponentially less fun.

  • Clavos

    Some remarkable insights, Jasmine.

    Well done.

  • Jasmine Anderson

    Thank you.

  • Natalia

    Thank You. Good article.

  • http://www.bargainmoose.ca/ Anna

    Lovely article, thanks for sharing :)

    Some good advice in number 22!

    Slightly off topic, but about those “25 things about me” articles – they are quite dangerous actually – you’re putting personal info into the public domain – and scammers could make use of it in the future to socially engineer their way into your personal accounts!

  • Mr. Dock Ellis

    Just found this and in service to no. 14
    Here’s a list reply
    1. OK
    2. Interesting
    3. Nothing like a hand up
    4. Nice
    5. “It’s only Rock n’ Roll”
    6. yeah, yeah
    7. too cynical
    8. Bravo!!
    9. No matter how beautiful a woman is there’s some guy, somewhere who’s sick of her sh_t
    10. Perhaps, but I still like no.8 the best
    11. Sometimes
    12. Dad might appreciate a call too.
    13. This is a gem.
    14. These jottings are in service to this one.
    15. Maybe in the U.S. but in the world?
    16. The product of the worthless U.S. school system
    17. All you need is love. Love thy neighbor . . .
    18. Paging Global Warming
    19. Swap kind and compassionate with manipulations and lies and it works plus you get Obama
    20. Another Gem Wahoo!!
    21. Number one reason why the Internet is to be feared.
    22. Works both ways
    23. Yet another Gem!!
    24. Jonesing to keep up with the Jones.
    25. Drat! You found me out.

    For further research into life consult: “NO Spitting: a concise guide to life.” By Hal Rubenstein and Jim Mullen

    Enjoy

  • Jaideep Dave

    [i]20. Life often works in reverse. People treat strangers more politely than their family or friends. People will ask their best girlfriend to come over and cut their hair without a thought to payment, but would never dream of calling a mechanic they found in the phonebook and asking them to donate their time and labor to fix a broken-down car. [/i]

    This was spot-on. Priceless stuff!

    Makes me want to go home and say, ‘thanks …mom.’ :)