I have a friend that is like this, he's very difficult to get a hold of through messaging/e-mail or text. When we're hanging out together, we have a great time (at least it seems like it from my point of view) but he rarely makes the effort to seek out things we could do together.
Is that an unhealthy relationship in the sense that I crave his attention/time more than he does mine? Are some people just more introverted and don't socialize as much?
For me, it has nothing to do with social anxiety, disrespect, etc. It's all about how I value my time differently from others. In my world, there's no such thing as recreation or relaxation, beyond the occasional Halo game. I do everything with objectives in mind. I constantly have several thoughts and ideas floating around in my head that I have to coalesce into coherence, because one of those ideas might be worth further investigation.
When someone texts me, messages me, emails me, etc., that's a relatively small interruption but can easily throw everything off in my head when I'm in the middle of a thread of thought. It's even worse if I am trying to focus on a specific task at hand. Yeah, I'm a serious person, but I enjoy the way my mind works and have been much happier by embracing it instead of treating it as a sickness (like the public school system).
So when I get those handful of messages coming at me every day, I ignore most of them and reply later, if ever.
I know this hurts people sometimes, and I try to help them understand. Buy I've given up explaining this over and over again. My ideas and questions around writing a line encoder are more important than your cat photos or going out for lunch, or favors for things one can easily take care of on their own.
It's not that I don't love my friends and family, but I can't have their drivel constantly loop around in my head.
His last line '...I can't have their drivel constantly loop around in my head' is repulsive.
Yes, my last line was undoubtedly harsh. That's certainly not how I always feel, and probably not most of the time. But it can sometimes be "drivel" because they'll know that I'm particularly engrossed with something, and they should know that I prefer solitude in those cases, yet they try to get me to spend my time on things I don't have any real interest in. Usually, I'll try to schedule a time to make them happy, but I still do not appreciate interruption when I'm busy, and I'm often going to take my time in replying to requests.
Besides, if you lived my life, you might see things this way.
Assuming that's correct, I don't think its fair to characterize his thinking as repulsive when its really just a coping mechanism for dealing with his personal limitations. Its rude, yes, but its not meant to be malicious or cruel.
To provide some background, I was referring to my being diagnosed with ADD back in school. I'm unsure whether I even have it since I was a fat loner kid back in school who was disinterested in being somewhere he was frequently being harassed. I don't think most grown adults would bother accomplishing much in an office where some dweeb was regularly sabotaging them. Grown ups found it easier to drug me than to discipline multiple bullies. I do think it's possible that I have ADD, but I don't think that's the underlying reason as to why I was being drugged rather than being put in an environment where I could thrive. The latter is much harder for an inefficient, dysfunctional system.
You're wrong in that I do actually think about social nuances a lot. My lightbulb is a little dim in that area, my second nature being more of a third nature with those things, but that doesn't mean I'm unaware of them at all. I acknowledge and understand why some people find me rude, and that's not evidence of autism.
As you say, I'm not a cruel person. I go out of my way to help friends when they are in need, to encourage others, to make amends when I know I've done wrong, etc. I think about other's feelings a lot because I have a lot of intense feelings myself. Sure, I'm rude, but not usually, and not to be cruel. I've never used words like "drivel" to someone's face, and usually do my best to honor people's communications or at least humor them when I'm not exactly thrilled with what they have to say. But I'm not ashamed to say that when someone texts me some viral video or whatnot, that it's an interruption not worthy of a timely response.
Some people ought to grow up, though. The fact that someone is disgusted because of a person's diction, or that the latter person thinks people say a lot of irrelevant things, shows a lack of empowerment. A person confident in themself shouldn't feel such distaste for the relatively minor shortcomings of others. I'm sure that most people find my interests to be drivel, and I'm not bothered by that in the slightest.
I do love people, for sure, but I don't require them to love me back, as would be suggested by me putting on a face and doing things to try keep their love. I think I require very little from people, and if a person can't handle me or my choice of words on Hacker News, they're free to move on.
They react, and think you are an asshole. That tells me they themselves are not willing to recognize their own cruelty and anger and pain. They are vulnerable. Rather than merely listening and saying that they are happy to know you know yourself they say things that make you seem so unknowable to yourself, since they themselves might, too, not aware of truly who they are.
I find text messaging and chats distracting from what I'm doing. But when I do hang out with my friends or family, they have my undivided attention and we have a great time.
I believe that's how I generally am when I've carved out time to be with people, but then again, assholes probably think that, too.
The funny thing is I feel as if most people like to spread out interactions into smaller bits, whereas I like to have an occasional quality hangout with someone. I think a lot of what I'm saying, including that, comes down to how I don't really "need" other people, and that doesn't mean I don't depend on my friends for some things, but it means that I don't need to spend time around people in order to feel like they are my friends. The passage of time, for me, has very little effect on how I perceive friendships; my best friend is always going to be my best friend, even if months or years pass and we haven't spoken a word.
If I forget to tell a new partner, now... we gave a great date and then she wants to start texting intensely, and feels I’m blowing her off and has resulted in anger over being led on/brushed off.
No loss on my part, but I always forget on my first few dates after some time off and it results in disappointment or worse on their part, seemingly needlessly.
Careful out there, fellow focus junkies.
But until that happens, I'm really just fine being who I am and not being fraudulent by acting nice to keep the favor of family and friends.
I genuinely love my friends and love it when I hang out with them - however I just always seem to be busy doing stuff and never really realise that I haven't called any of them for many weeks. It is just not in my nature to reach out randomly to see if someone wants to hang out.
I think a lot of it is to do with how I was raised - I think it was ingrained in my psyche that it was 'rude' to call upon people and better to wait until they called you. To reach out was seeing a impolite or possibly interrupting their important work, I think. Funny how those little beliefs/lessons when you are a kid tends to follow you into adulthood.
We have a great time when we're together and I know that these friendships are very important for me and for them.
At some point I just started assuming that it is part of my role in life... to be the one that makes the phone call.
The thing that fixes it for me is going to events with a clear group activity other than "generic socializing".
I enjoy hanging out with my friends, but whenever I do it feels like I have to take great pains to carve the time out of my schedule, reshuffle a bunch of priorities, and try to somehow keep my head above water despite the reduced time in the day. What do them is a “Lets grab a quick drink” is to me a “What am I not getting done this week and how far behind will that put me?”
Hence I never reach out proactively. Any spare time goes to keeping the SO relationshio strong.
I'm not making any value judgments here I am just describing the terrain.
On the other hand, maybe he just doesn't like to be glued to a screen chatting with people all day. I freakin' hate it and have made great efforts to cut down.
I stopped wasting time pondering those questions, just accepted the fact the way people communicate can vary vastly, and if someone is difficult to get hold of then that's how it is. Better spend my time making more contacts.
I find text awkward, shallow, and ultimately I spin my wheels trying to decode and write messages - the kind of enegry I specifically need for things I'm working on.
Not to mention I prefer to just wait until the next time I see somebody in person so that the interaction will actually be meaningful.
A lot of people don't consider the world of difference between in-person communication and making a small electronic object beep-and-buzz near the recipient on their behalf.
About your question: The problem of deciding if a relationship is 'unhealthy' is very open-ended and rough. I can never arrive at a binary answer, and the topic does make me sad. Attention is hard to gauge and manage. You have some great specific questions though, like Does he crave attention in the same way, Why doesn't he like messaging, etc. You two should find a way to talk about it. That's what I'd do.
All I know for sure is that relying on electronic communication can have weird and annoying effects on friendships where neither person quite realises there's a problem.
I will suggest that instead of guessing or asking internet strangers to guess, you would be better off just asking your friend a few questions.
Some people are just busy. Some people just don't do text messages or don't check their email regularly. Some people have social anxiety.
There can be lots of obstacles to making a connection that have nothing to do with the other person just not liking you. Only you can decide if you are getting enough out of it to keep at it.
I am optimistic that once there is a basic understanding and respect of each person's needs and bounds, almost every relationship can be made to work.
I just think some people are surly, miserly, cheerless, grouches and that is just their way in life. If you respond by shutting them out because it's inconvenient for your short-term feelings, you might miss out on an amazing person who just happens to live life differently.
Once I started to see miserly behavior as "just another way of life" that some people like and some people don't, it really opened my eyes to many more people around me.
In this sense, I think it's very shallow to ask "do they make my life better" (which will almost surely be biased by whatever short term comforts or simple, manageable friendship you want) or "do they make me happy" (sometimes the best thing for us is something that shocks our system, upsets our worldview, challenges us in a non-trivial way, and we might have to endure receiving that in thorny, grumpy packaging).
Obviously there is a limit. With my friend, I know that grumpiness is his way of life. He doesn't mean gruff or callous things to be taken as insults, even though most shallow social interaction he has with people, especially if they don't know him, might come off that way. If I thought he sincerely was putting me down or insulting me purely for the sake of inflicting pain or something, then yeah, I would not want that in my life.
Overall I guess I am just saying I think it's much more complicated than the heuristic you describe. If I followed that heuristic, it would be a lot like indulging confirmation bias and surrounding myself only with people who reinforce the stuff I already think or do. I might miss out on great relationship where a healthy antagonism is a first-order component of the interaction, and it stretches my boundaries.
My whole comment was about how outwardly miserly behavior can still manifest from someone who really is a good, interesting, worthwhile person. So I don’t understand your “asshole” comment. That seems like you’re jumping straight for the nuclear option instead of allowing the possibility that among the population of generally good people, some are nice and warm, some are crabby and prefer to skip social pleasantries or otherwise come off as cold.
Maybe if you unpack the connection between your first sentence and your conclusion more it would help me understand.
The power of positive thinking can be destructive if it has been automated. Negative thinking can be the same way - it can be automated, although from my experience, my negative thinking usually helps me see flaws in my own reasoning to such excess that I don't feel I'm at risk for it being automated without being able to reason myself out of whatever is automatic.
I'm glad you are thoughtful enough (and that's not meant as a back handed compliment, abstractly positive thinking and negative thinking function the same way, they just interact with different components of self-social systems) to see things in less simplified ways. I have one friend who is like you, and it's constantly a struggle to override my belief system that they are sick of me. But that's the automatic thinking spiral I get stuck in. And I would think most people who are cynical like that think similarly, because that's what we are used to. Emotional vampires, black holes, draining. All those pejoratives affect our self perspective.
We don't know how people will judge us. It's nice that people are willing to speak from another perspective. Positive thinking, from when I've experienced it, can feel very group think, like, everything will fall apart if you stop thinking that way. That is such a suppressive ideology to me, it feels dangerous, and I'm not comfortable simply allowing myself to be one directionally convinced into thinking that way. It doesn't take my perspective into account.
So in the end, I find, the people who can handle interacting with me and staying positive have very strong minds, both intellectually and emotionally. And they demonstrate that there is a brighter side to life that doesn't imply we're all going to jump off a cliff because it's fun, and not see the ground coming. Sometimes bad things happen in life. It can't all be controlled by attitude. There are real things that happen in life that affect emotions. Forcing oneself to pretend everything is fine is suicidal.
I'm not used to being happy. It makes me uncomfortable often. That doesn't mean I fear it. It just means I have to be very careful in experiencing the emotion. Sadness too. Sadness over things that make you sad shouldn't be suppressed, nor should it be attached to people like 'those people made me sad'. That's just going to hurt a person in the long run, because sadness is an awareness. You need sadness to know happiness. Suppressing emotions leads to convoluted reasoning, missed connections, insight and clarity into one's own circumstances, real things.
I feel neutral talking to you, but I feel better in general knowing most of humanity isn't on a collision course to remove half of it's emotional reasoning away.
There are few things worse than people who are surrounded with a thick layer of "positive thinkers", who never deliver bad news or critical thinking. It's a fast track to delusion.
Thankfully, I took time to question my conclusions, and I received some good advice from a good friends. I took some big steps forward in understanding my self and my relationship, changed jobs (no more 3rd shift), and the level of communication shot through the roof. Some years later, I wouldn't say we have a perfect relationship, but it's more perfect than I thought possible. There are still outside stresses, but we're steadying forces in each other's lives.
Definitely don't stick around people who make you feel terrible - or any kind of net negative, but many times when we're making these calculations, we're not in our most centered states, so be careful to make sure that the friend in question is the source of displeasure, rather than yourself/external factors.
You’re conception overlooks the value in systematic considerations that build-in humility and compassion independent of judgement and measurements of interpersonal compatibility. I’m talking about the basis for some of the most critical elements of a functional society, like morals and other insistutions which defend and bring dignity to people who may be disabled, ugly, foreign, poor, uneducated, etc.
Humility and compassion can and must extend beyond your doorstep. This does not require you to be forced with disgust, discomfort, offense or anything of the like. But maybe it requires a basic concern for people as a whole and an appreciation for the deep complexities that bring your experiences to life, and for some people a walk in others shoes seems to be one of the only paths.
The idea is “humility and compassion” optimized on a systemic level, and not subject to the whims and follies of individual judgement and interpersonal emotion. This is the justification for morals. Be careful to not mistake morals for fairness, for fairness is subject to the aforementioned weaknesses.
I can tell from your comments in this thread that you are exactly the opposite of a mean/cruel person, so this is a good example of what you said yourself: that even trying to be nice with others you might still come across like all the opposite.
Of course your point is still equally or more important, as it becomes harder to help others when you can't even make a good life for yourself. But giving can be many times life changing for others.
It's not literally true, but it's a great way of thinking about who you surround yourself with and the subtle ways they influence you.
I know I tend to pick up aspects of the people I spend a lot of time with. When we used to visit our family in Queens I'd come back talking like someone from Queens. When I had a boss who would badmouth the company a lot, I found myself also having a negative opinion of the company. Cynical friends made me cynical.
My boss now is a ray of sunshine. Just a delightful and decent human being, and I am a better person for being around him. I can only hope some of my positive characteristics rub off on others.
I'm a widower, and one of the ways that loss has changed me is that I am much more cognizant of, and grateful for, the other familial and platonic relationships in my life. I wouldn't be getting out of bed every day if not for my kids, family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. I am surrounded by love and support.
I certainly have bad days, but I would not be where I am without the relationships in my life, and I absolutely believe in the power of those positive people to have a positive impact on me.
Your first quote is something that stuck with me. And yes, looking back it's probably true!
Also, you sound like the kind of person that would spread the positivity to others around them, so keep it up, you're awesome!
Well, I wasn't always, but I'm trying to be now! :)
I really don't like the idea of trying to rank my friends like this. Not everything in the world needs to be quantified.
The goal is to know who those people are and spend more time around them. In a way I think this is the opposite of quantification.
Although, despite being such a poorly written article, I do agree that having a group of close friends who you can depend on for good and bad times is huge for our mental health and happiness.
The best friends in my life are not the same friends that have always been easy / happy / positive. But it is the people that I've known through tough times that I rely on now. It's all too easy to step away from people when one or the other is in a tough spot and this article runs the risk of encouraging that behavior. By my reading anyhow
You'll never nourish such a deep, loving friendship if you're expecting your friends to be basically perfect: happy, easy-going, not giving you any trouble. Going through some tough shit together can really strengthen that bond and open you up to a kind of positivity and happiness you'll never get from those who simply wear it as a mask.
One thing I've found is that - people you're in relationships or freindships, of whatever kind, with - they put out a mix of positivity, negativity, whatever -
The only way to master the problem of people 'lifting you up' or 'bringing you down' is to own your own moods, and not ride the whimsy of positivity or negativity that other people are putting out towards you - then you can see other people's negativity for what it is - it might be their problems projected, their interactions with the world gone wrong, who knows - and you can help them - or choose not to.
There is negativity in the world, not negative people - you can avoid it, even successfully, but to be comfortable with it and navigate it well - that's a whole other world.
If you're not in a stable place emotionally, the advice in this article might apply, and I hope things get better for you.
All I know is I love my friends, including the one's who are hopelsss at being in any way encouraging. I see it as my problem and my job to be OK with them. And I think a lot of people share that attitude.
Pardon the rant. The topic got me worked up a bit.
There is an underlying utilitarian vision of life in the main article, that really twist me in the wrong way. Not everything is a market interaction and real friendship are a bit more complicated than that.
Consider the co-worker who acknowledges hard work you do, and appreciates you for your effort. This acknowledgement gives this you a sense of accomplishment, which in turn makes you feel happier and better.
Consider the neighbor who offers help when he notices you have a problem with your car, or gives you advice that helps you solve your problem easier.
Consider the person who recognizes that you have a disability or health defect, and chooses to help you and provide you with positive reinforcement to help you focus on progress and feel better about your situation.
I think the article, and the notion of "positive people," is more than just throwing a word around. It's about people who add weight and meaning to their words through thoughtful consideration and genuine compassion.
I don't educate people that are not ready to be educated!
I like the simple litmus test that wizardforhire mentioned (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17544755). Another one I like is WaitButWhy's "Traffic Test":
"The Traffic Test is passed when I’m finishing up a hangout with someone and one of us is driving the other back home or back to their car, and I find myself rooting for traffic. That’s how much I’m enjoying the time with them."
Those two books completely changed my life. They helped me become more confident, less socially anxious and be able to connect with people in a much deeper way than I was capable of before.
The first time I tried reading the How to make friends book, I couldn't really fully make sense of it or enjoy it (in fact I was offended that someone gave to me as a gift). It took reading the Charisma book and a lot of practice (yes, just reading these books won't help you, you'll need to put in a lot of work) to get to the point where the other book was helpful.
We want to fit in. In a library, that means heads down. In a fit city, that means being fit. In Texas (my home), that often means lots of beer drinking and dining out, which leads to not fit.
The power of positive people is the same. If you roll in a cynical circle, your cynicism will be applauded, and your optimism ridiculed, and you’ll find yourself altogether more cynical.
Around 22 years old, I realized that location / social circle are two of my greatest levers for influencing my behavior, and I’ve been extremely careful about where I’m willing to position myself ever since.
It's important to know what beliefs are circulating. They can have an impact regardless of truth value.
It's a simple change, but very hard to do consistently.
That came up in this discussion where he, Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais and Louis CK talk about comedy and their techniques, etc. It's really interesting.
This leaves room for improvement/reevaluation and it's actually far more accurate in almost all cases.
I think what _may_ work is "don't be a jerk" or "stop being a jerk".
It's better to debate them on their choices so they can find their own way towards a more enlightened and equitable worldview.
I've also come to realize that this may partially explain why conservatives I know have been reluctant to engage in political discussion in these times. They're being backed into having to defend fundamentally indefensible positions.
Rather than forcing them to opt out, maybe it would be more productive to provide them an avenue out by engaging them in a more positive way. I'm still trying to figure out what that is, however.
Of course, this works best over time, assumes that it isn't a downright abusive situation where you can't really afford to not take a stand, etc.
> I've also come to realize that this may partially explain why conservatives I know have been reluctant to engage in political discussion in these times. They're being backed into having to defend fundamentally indefensible positions.
Maybe conservatives aren't getting into political discussions with you because you consider their positions indefensible. Have you ever considered that maybe conservatives are right about some things or do you monolithically support everything labeled 'liberal'?
I have liberal leanings but am from the so-called red state of Idaho. I try to hear out my friends, family and neighbors because their context doesn't always match mine.
Whether this is possible is very dependent on what exactly is meant by the massively overloaded "racist"/"sexist"/"bigot" terms. These terms are sometimes apt, but quite often these days, they are deployed against facts, in which case it's not possible to reason someone out of the position.
>I've also come to realize that this may partially explain why conservatives I know have been reluctant to engage in political discussion in these times.
No, the main reason for this is that holding certain positions is dangerous in some bubbles. See: James Damore, Lindsay Shepherd, Eric Weinstein, or Charles Murray.
>engaging them in a more positive way. I'm still trying to figure out what that is, however.
Pinker has some thoughts on that:
Something I saw happen recently, was a conservative making positive ("the way things are") statements, and being treated as if he'd made normative ("the way things should be") statements. And being attacked for things he hadn't said, and pressured to defend positions he didn't hold, and effectively called a liar for trying to point out the miscommunication.
I like the suggestion someone else made to basically joke about life, not about people. (my words, not theirs, but that's what it sounded like to me)
At some point, is it not humility nor positive anymore, it is just negative.
Yes, people like it when you insult yourself. Still, if the relationship requires you to take down and insult yourself regularly, it is not worth it. I mean it.
I had that verbal tick where you automatically take down yourself or underplay own achievement and in retrospective, it costed me a lot. It took a lot of effort to get rid of it and I am still not fully there yet. People like it, they laugh and are friendlier and nicer to you. But they do end up believing you are less capable, then you are, respect you less, your word matters less in things that matter.
Dont do it as a habit.
OP: "gives an anecdote about how the article is wrong or incomplete"
REPLY: "gives an anecdote about how the OP is wrong or incomplete"
REPLY-REPLY: "gives an anecdote about how the REPLY is wrong or incomplete"
repeat adnauseum on every comment chain for ever and ever.
Usually people don't have them to learn - they have them to teach.
If two people like that are having a discussion, it's truly an pointless activity.
Doesn't matter IMO.
Both sides are still getting something out of it. Even if they just try to "teach" and think they already know everything, they also get to hear the argument of the other side, and think counterarguments -- thus improving their argument too.
In other words, even if they stick to their a priori beliefs no matter what, they at least learn to defend and define them better, because of having to deal with the other side.
Besides, a discussion is not just something to "learn" from. It's also entertaining on its own, a way to express yourself, hone your thoughts and so on. Learning from the discussion is not required for those things.
Not everything has to have an end goal, or "improve" us.
Some points I can see and am able to articulate:
1. Being exposed to opposing viewpoints is valuable even if your goals don't consciously include learning from them. Pointless to the individual because rationally they won't further their goal? Perhaps. Pointless to society as a whole? I would argue no.
2. Non-participants exposed to such a discussion can learn from all sides, even if the individuals actually doing the discussion gain absolutely nothing, and there are orders of magnitude more non-participants than participants. So even a small impact can be far-reaching.
I don't think that teaching vs learning is mutually exclusive, and while intent matters I don't believe you can have a (non-repeat) discussion without learning something.
It kind of frightens me how much emphasis has been put into creating social bubbles where no one disagrees. Especially online where it's so easy to do. (I want to emphasize that I am not criticizing having people around to support you.)
Your retelling of "barbarian" etymology is also wrong. Apparently ancient greeks thought other people's languages sounded like "bar bar" to them. It's not what foreigners sounded like trying to speak their own language, which wouldn't really even make sense.
"The Greeks used the term barbarian for all non-Greek-speaking peoples, including the Egyptians, Persians, Medes and Phoenicians, emphasizing their otherness, because the language they spoke sounded to Greeks like gibberish represented by the sounds "bar..bar..;" this is how they came to the word βάρβαρος"
This is not the original study I was looking for but similar results.
As for insane, I fail to comprehend. In the spirit of good fun on hn I challenge you to provide us with 10 jokes so that we may debate their merits appropriately.
It seems patently obvious that some jokes are mean and some jokes are not. But it's highly subjective given varying contexts. A "mean" joke about someone at a roast might be considered a kindness by all involved. You could still call it "mean" but you might be the only one that thinks so.
Here's some (mostly boring) jokes. Let's see if you can point out the the meanness in each of them.
"Q: What do chemists' dogs do with their bones?
A: They barium!"
"Q: What did the cat say when the mouse got away?
A: You've got to be kitten me!"
"Q. What did the ocean say to the sailboat?
A. Nothing, it just waved."
"Q. What did Batman say to Robin before they got in the car? A. 'Robin, get in the car.'"
"Q. What do you get when you cross-breed a shark and a cow? A. I have no idea but I wouldn’t try milking it."
"My new thesaurus is terrible.
Not only that, but it’s also terrible."
What is a cow's favorite form of entertainment?
Going to the moo-vies.
The librarian asks "You, want a book?"
The chicken replies "Bok."
The librarian grabs a book from the return pile and hands it to the chicken. The chicken puts it under its wing and walks away.
The next day the same chicken comes back in and says "Bok. Bok."
The librarian looks at the chicken and says "So, you want two books?"
The chicken says "Bok. Bok." The librarian hands the chicken two books and the chicken puts them under its wing and walks away.
On the third day the librarian decides to follow the chicken to see what it is doing.
The chicken comes in and says "Bok. Bok. Bok."
The librarian asks "So you want three books?"
The chicken says "Bok. Bok. Bok."
The librarian hands the chicken three books and the chicken puts them under its wing and walks away. This time the librarian follows the chicken over fields and valleys, through a forest to a large pond. In the middle of the pond is a frog on a lily pad.
The chicken takes one book from under its wing and throws it to the frog. The frog catches it, looks at the cover and says "Readit. Readit. Readit."
During one such period, I complained to my son that putting my damn shoes on had become the hardest part of my day. He said "Shoes! How the fuck do they work?"
I died laughing and snickered about it for weeks. Some acquaintance had recently been a jerk to me about something I had said that they didn't get and had given me the pity treatment instead of laughing with me (not at me). My son's joke sympathized with my frustration without pissing on me and it was very, very welcome.
Like, when you joke about someone and that person adopts a joke and brags about it afterwards, because what your joke make visible about him is what he likes about himself.
Basically, you will not joke about things that make target inferior, lesser, outsider or something like that. Your joke will extrapolate what target likes about himself, people like about him and he/she is not vulnerable or insecure about.
Sometimes the most tactful way to communicate a terrible truth to someone who who is unwilling to confront it is to make them laugh about it.
Dave Chappelle - Police Brutality (2000)
What about surreal humor?
I guess you could say it victimizes the world as we 'know' it?
Of course it's really easy to get mixed about and think you're punching up when you're really punching sideways or slightly downwards (ie at your fellow, yet different, plebs).
Q. What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches?
A. A nervous wreck.
Q. What do you call a snowman in July?
A. A puddle.
Hear about the new restaurant called Karma? There is no menu - you only get what you deserve.
Doesn't that just make you less offensive to others?
Still doesn't say anything about you being more positive - in fact, making yourself the butt of your jokes could mean you're self-deprecating or depressive.
No. Where I work we talk a lot of smack to each other. This doesn't go on behind peoples' backs - we prefer that the victim be there to hear it. But about 20% of the time, the "victim" is also the speaker - it's self-directed smack.
When we were interviewing this guy to join our team, I mentioned this behavior, and asked if he was going to be able to put up with that environment. The thought for a moment, and then said "It sounds like you trust each other." He was exactly right. It's because we trust each other that we can tease each other - knowing that the sender wasn't speaking in malice, and knowing that the receiver won't take it the wrong way.
The message from this onwards though is "fuck that person".
Some friends don't want you to try to succeed, because they are not trying. They would rather see you fail and say "see, that's what happens. That's why i don't try, as it just fails anyway". Its hard to tell such friends, good news. It makes them feel bad about themselves.
I think in general he has some fans here. And those that aren't fans have pretty rational critiques of his appeal, without just devolving into pure partisan bias.
Personally I liked his talks on Youtube from Harvard, but didn't enjoy his book. It was like he was trying to cash in with a "Chicken Soup for The Soul" knockoff. It's not terrible, but not worthy of a philosopher and too geared to the mass market.