Let’s not mince words. I’m an asshole. I’m not “spirited,” I’m not “cynical,” or any other delicate way of describing someone like me. And I’m sure as fuck not “sassy.” Don’t sugarcoat it with silly words like that. I know what I am, and I’m proud of it.
If you know me, then I’ve probably already insulted you. If I haven’t, be patient, I’ll get around to it. I seldom compliment people, and when I do, people are often unsure if I’m being serious since it’s uncharacteristic for me. People tell me at least once a week that I’m mean, or that I crossed a line. By now you’re probably envisioning me as some lonely misanthropist jerk who kicks puppies and takes candy from babies. I’m not though. Well, okay, maybe I’d take candy from a baby, but that’s for the baby’s benefit as much as my own. Seriously, why the fuck would you give a baby candy?
No, I’m not some loner who’s bitter against the world. In fact most of the people I’m rude to laugh at what I say and wind up becoming my friends. I’d say the reason for this is simple: being nice and polite is boring.
Don’t you hate when you meet a new group of people and the conversation is so stilted because everyone is trying to make all that banal small talk that’s expected of you? Haven’t you ever wished you had a fast forward button for life so you could skip all the boring chit chat of asking people what kind of work do they do, where do they live, how their weekend was? You want to get to the good stuff, right? You want to hear how the person you’re talking to performs at a vampire strip club, how they once got into a fight with Russell Brand, or how they have a pet kangaroo. The unique stuff that actually makes people enjoyable to interact with.
If you want to get to that point, why not just do it? Drop the social niceties and just speak to that stranger like you would a friend. Stop talking about the weather and just say what’s really on your mind.
Unsure how that works? Here, have some visual aid. It’s like Gatorade, except you know, visual. This is a tweet from Arcadia sophomore and Psychology major, Britta Conrad. “Talking about my lunch to guy talking at info desk and he goes ‘it sounds like you should be fatter than you are.’” Any guesses who that ‘guy’ is? Nah, not Michael Jackson, he’s dead. It was me.
That was only the second time I ever talked to Britta and she was in the midst of telling me how she had just eaten four pieces of pizza. Any remark from me other than the one I made would have just been me dodging around what I really thought. The world did not explode though. In fact she laughed and shared that moment with everyone online, and we’re now friends. My take on the reason for that is because I broke the ice of awkwardness that newly introduced people skate on.
That incident was hardly a rare occurrence for me. I frequently start out conversations with people I’ve just met by commenting on someone’s visible nose hair, or crooked eye. We all notice these things, so why are we taught to avoid them? Because it’s impolite? Who defines what polite is?
I’ve had people do stuff like proofread an assignment I had for class and tell me it was fine, only to get it back from the professor all marked up with obvious corrections. When I ask my proofreader why they didn’t mention any of it, they tell me they didn’t want to hurt my feelings by criticizing my work. Really? Is that what polite is? I see similar incidents play out constantly, where people hold their tongues to spare someone’s feelings. Isn’t the saying about relationships that the most important parts are trust and honesty? So why does politeness basically teach us to lie by omission? That’s not a benign social nicety; that’s a malignant action.
Another person who I frequently insult, Arcadia junior and International Studies major Erika Elizondo, describes why dropping the pretenses and just being blunt can actually build trust, saying, “We became friends because, since you were so forward, I know that you’re honest in your statements at all times. Thus more truthful. The rest of society tries so hard to be ‘socially correct’ in whatever they do that you can’t tell when people are honest or not.” Make no mistake, I am honest. Not in that douchey Conservative way where people say horrible stereotypes under the guise that they’re just speaking the truth. Rather in the way that if your paper I’m proofreading is terrible, I’ll flat out say it’s terrible and spare you the embarrassment of submitting it, except as a substitute for toilet paper.
Britta voices her own thoughts on why having no filter between mind and mouth can be effective and endearing, even despite me saying she sounds fat (as well as once comparing her looks to an orangutan, and implying she spreads STD’s) by saying, “I think by you being ‘rude’ to me from the start made me feel more comfortable around you because I didn’t feel the need to go through the random questions. It’s mad easy to feel comfortable around someone if you can start off a friendship by laughing and even if I was just laughing because I was surprised by what you said to me (which is my most natural reaction) the whole laughing scene still happened. It’s a bit of fresh air when the first question someone asks isn’t ‘oh, where are you from?’ or ‘What is your major?’”
Sound familiar? I get if you’re skeptical. I used to be very shy as a kid because I was always so worried about saying something impolite that I usually just didn’t talk. However, since I became an asshole not only do I have a lot more friends, but I just feel free. It’s like I’m the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem singing, “I don’t care! What I’m going to say! Let the rudeness rage on. I was always an asshole anyway.”
It really doesn’t bother me anymore if people think I’m a jerk. I am. At the same time though, I wouldn’t act like this if it made me hated and ostracized, which is why I wanted to gauge some honest reactions from people I know. But I know what you’re thinking. I asked my friends about this topic, so of course they’re going to agree with me. How could I ever find a dissenting opinion among people I know? Besides, anyone can make two friends who agree with him. Well there’s no need to suspect bias, because just as I don’t fear being honest and hurting feelings, neither do my friends about this topic.
Despite what Britta said above, she went on to say, “I’ve been around blunt people like you before so I kind of know how to react. There’s no way that all people would react the same and some might not just think it’s rude, but actually get offended. It just depends entirely on personality types so even though surface level it seems like a good idea to be more “real” because it’ll be helpful later if trying to chit chat actual problems out, the amount of people that can look past the straight up bluntness in the beginning of a friendship tends to be low.”
Which is a perfectly valid criticism. Yeah, I have friends, but I’m not pretending everyone loves me. I’ve definitely pissed some people off by making remarks they didn’t like. In fact, as a child many friends I had started out hating me because they just thought I was annoying. Being an asshole does require a modicum of tact. When meeting new people, I always try to start out small with the rudeness and work my way up as I feel out what they’re comfortable with. Telling someone their accent is stupid to make them laugh is a lot safer than jumping straight into making fun of someone’s Southern hick-sounding name by asking if their parents are brother and sister.
I can’t lie: being an asshole takes practice, and it’s probably not for everyone. Some people genuinely enjoy talking about the weather. But if you’re like me, and meeting new people has gotten to the point of feeling like a chore rather than the fun it should be, try something new. Stop treating that new acquaintance like a Ming vase that could shatter at the wrong touch. Treat them like a person, and give an honest answer about whether the pants make them look fat. Maybe the ice will be broken, and you’ll fall into that long-awaited conversation about vampire strippers. One can only hope.