I thought you should know

by Erin on November 20, 2007

Advance 8129

I've decided that, from now on, I'm not going to pay any attention to any statements that begin with the following phrases:

"I thought you should know,"

"No offense, but,"

My highly unscientific study of these phrases has led me to believe that they are only used when the speaker wants to convey something unpleasant to the listener. And not something unpleasant and urgent, in the sense of "Your hair's on fire!" but something unpleasant in the sense of "I want to tell you something insulting, yet I do not wish you to feel directly insulted."

What I want to know is, has anyone, in the history of these conversational openers, ever replied like this?

Speaker A: "I thought you should know — that dress makes you look fat."
Speaker B: "Oh, how kind of you to tell me! I forgot that it was my sacred duty to look thin. I'll run right home and change. Can you come with me, just in case I pick the wrong thing again? Also, how's this color on me?"

Speaker A: "No offense, but you're too old for that style."
Speaker B: "I thought I hadn't slapped on enough Youth Instigator this morning — say, you wouldn't have a tube on you, would you?"

I've often wondered about the motives of people who say these things. Do they really, truly, believe they're doing their listeners a favor? And do they respond rationally when people do it to them?

Speaker A: "I thought you should know, that color makes you look sallow."
Speaker B: "Oh, thank you! I'm so glad you told me. But you should let me return the favor — those earrings are a touch gaudy. I'm sure you'd be happier and less … conspicuous in little studs."
Speaker A: "You are so right! I never thought of that before."

No? You don't think that happens? You think that the Speaker A's of this world only feel better when they are able to make other people feel worse? (Especially when they can do so, Anonymously, on the Internets?) Huh, what sad and lonely lives those Speaker A's must lead.

If for no other reason (say, basic human decency) you should be kind because unkindness doesn't work. In fact, it's often highly counterproductive, if your stated goal is to "improve" other people. It would be one thing if offhand "No offense, but you look fat," comments from strangers actually caused people to lose weight (if they wanted to), but, alas, they don't. Never have. Would you change your behavior, whatever it was, based on anonymous comments online? No? Why, then, do you think that YOUR anonymous comment is going to change the world?

If you really wanted to "do someone a favor," you'd do it under your own name, so that you could take the credit. Heck, you'd send me a private email and ask me to pass it along, so a conversation, a real discussion, could take place. That's what you do when you want to help. When you want to hurt, when you want to feel momentarily better about yourself at another's expense, you leave an anonymous comment.

I'm not going to make the comments on this blog real-name only. But I would like to remind people of a few things:

– You can comment, by name or anonymously, all you like to tell me that anything I've done is crap, pure crap, highly-crappy crap fashioned lovingly from raw crap, and that you don't know how I live with myself. I understand that running a blog is the equivalent of hanging a sign that says "Criticize here."

– BUT, I would like you to treat the guests of this blog with kindness. Remember the Golden Rule? Please follow it.

(And if you say "But I'd WANT someone to tell me if something made me look bad," you should think really hard about whether or not that's true. How did you feel the last time someone told you something was unflattering? Did you act on it? Or did you come up with a reason to ignore their "advice"? Do fee free to send me a picture of yourself so that I can find someone to perform this service for you, if you want it so badly.)

One last thing: aesthetics are highly variable. What you consider the dernier cri is probably not that of the person next to you. So why would you act as if your vision was the only true one?

[Today's pattern is from LanetzLiving, who is offering a SPECIAL EXTRA DISCOUNT to us … put "turkey20" in the discount box and get a 20% discount on all patterns from her site. They'll ship next Monday after the holiday. Oh, and the woman in the red jacket is telling the woman in the white jacket that busy florals don't suit her. The woman in the white jacket is pretending the woman in the red jacket doesn't exist.]

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