I've recently been thinking about another type of obnoxious behavior. It's one in which many people sometimes engage, and I find myself tempted by it often. It's also something I have learned to recognize as an immediate warning sign about a person's personality. It is an almost universally obnoxious trait: self-description.
Some (hypothetical) examples:
- I'm not the kind of person who watches TV.
- I guess I'm just more cynical than that.
- I'm just a big ole country girl.
- Most people either love me or hate me.
- I'm one of those people who can't stand pedantry.
A few months ago, a friend and I had a conversation via IM. Afterwards, I thought, jesus, we just had a fight - I hope she didn't notice. I could feel myself being obnoxious during it and I thought she was a little obnoxious too. Later she texted me to apologize for being that way, and I apologized too.
I'm pasting in the transcript of this because the whole thing drips with self-description of exactly the kind I'm talking about...on both sides:
Friend: Hmm. That [story about cheating] does sound bad. I don't know.
It just makes me so upset that cheating is a thing here... cheating wasn't an issue where I went to high school or where I went to college and I hate that it's prevalent in this environment.
me: I know what you mean. I think it's pretty common here.
Friend: I just don't think I'll ever be able to teach somewhere like that ultimately, I think it would bother me too much.
me: I am cynical so it doesn't bother me, I guess. So far anyway.
Friend: I'm cynical about some things, but education isn't one of them, probably because of where I went to school.
me: I don't think that's really why. I mean, I have a lot of similar school experiences to yours.
Friend: maybe i'm just an idealist then
me: I mean, I want cheaters nailed to the wall, but it doesn't bother me that they exist, if that makes sense.