Author Topic: Thoughts on thoughts  (Read 16210 times)

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aventurine

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Thoughts on thoughts
« on: January 10, 2011, 01:57:43 PM »
I've been noticing a trend lately that I don't understand - an OP will lay out their tale, noting in passing that their thoughts about the situation or person involved were less than charitable.  Often, some responder will chastise the OP for having thought ill of the person, as if that were somehow rude.  This happens even when the OP has clearly stated that they did not and/or would not act on these thoughts.

To me, it's clearly beyond the scope of this board to tell people what they should and should not think inside their own heads.  I've expressed this opinion, only to be told that if a poster puts that information in their post, then it's fair game for criticism.  I disagree.  I feel that, at worst, it's redundant information because otherwise, there would be no story to tell! 

It isn't my intention to tell others what they can and can't post about, because we all know that threads often drift in unexpected ways.  I'd just like to know what others' opinions are on this trend of calling someone wrong for their private thoughts.




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Yvaine

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 02:03:45 PM »
I agree. Uncharitable thoughts only become rude if they escape your head in the form of words, actions, withering looks, etc. I think the way Toots put it once was "Character may care. Etiquette doesn't care."

When it becomes relevant, IMHO, is when someone's negative feelings about another person seem to be coloring their entire view of the situation. I can't remember any real examples off the top of my head, so here's a facetious one: "My mean, nasty MIL has always hated me and today she proved it! She actually had the gall to sneeze while visiting me! She's obviously implying my house is dusty!" At that point one might say to the OP that their dislike of the MIL is affecting their view of an otherwise innocent situation. It's not necessarily a criticism of the actual etiquette, though, just a hint that there may be another perspective on the issue.

aventurine

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2011, 02:09:49 PM »
At that point one might say to the OP that their dislike of the MIL is affecting their view of an otherwise innocent situation. It's not necessarily a criticism of the actual etiquette, though, just a hint that there may be another perspective on the issue.

I agree with that.  Other perspectives are completely on topic, and often the reasons why I start a post is for the purpose of getting others' insight.  I can't think of how to use your example to highlight what I mean, but I think you understood it (as per your first sentence!).




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Ms_Shell

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2011, 02:10:47 PM »
Only for me, if I notice something in an OP that I feel is worth pointing out (really extreme reaction, a thought process that seems unproductive) I'm going to point it out.  IMO, private thoughts become public thoughts as soon as you lay them out on a pulic forum and they are usually germane to the discussion.  Intention is generally a big part of the discussions here, I've found, and how can you have intentions without having thoughts?  

Also, I don't mind others commenting on my thoughts because sometimes I overreact to minor things and I know that.  I've been grateful to you all in the past for kind of reining me in, KWIM?
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Yvaine

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2011, 02:14:52 PM »
IMO, private thoughts become public thoughts as soon as you lay them out on a pulic forum

Public to us, but not necessarily to the person the OP interacted with, kwim? Let's say a poster was a store clerk and thought nasty things about a customer. If the clerk didn't say anything rude, didn't make a face, and didn't slam the customer's items around or otherwise make her anger visible, and used "thank you" etc., then she was not rude to the customer. So if the question is "was I rude?", then the answer would be no.

But if the question was "am I overreacting to such-and-such customer behavior?", the answer might be yes, depending. I guess the important thing is what the actual question is.

Ms_Shell

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 02:20:18 PM »
IMO, private thoughts become public thoughts as soon as you lay them out on a pulic forum

Public to us, but not necessarily to the person the OP interacted with, kwim? Let's say a poster was a store clerk and thought nasty things about a customer. If the clerk didn't say anything rude, didn't make a face, and didn't slam the customer's items around or otherwise make her anger visible, and used "thank you" etc., then she was not rude to the customer. So if the question is "was I rude?", then the answer would be no.

But if the question was "am I overreacting to such-and-such customer behavior?", the answer might be yes, depending. I guess the important thing is what the actual question is.

Right, I was using "public" to mean open for discussion on the board (sorry for any confusion!) 
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aventurine

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2011, 02:21:23 PM »
Oo.  "Was I rude" vs "did I overreact" is a really good point.

Clueing someone in that they may be overreacting is helpful.  Telling them they were rude for thinking as they did (as in the cashier example, when they clearly were not) is unproductive at best.  It can be a fine distinction, but an important one, as Yvaine said, depending on the question.




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Ms_Shell

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2011, 02:29:44 PM »
Clueing someone in that they may be overreacting is helpful.  Telling them they were rude for thinking as they did (as in the cashier example, when they clearly were not) is unproductive at best.  It can be a fine distinction, but an important one, as Yvaine said, depending on the question.

POD.  That's usually my intention.  For example if someone said, "I ran out of my favorite breakfast cereal this morning!  I couldn't believe it!  I was so mad I punched a hole through a wall and then I cried for half an hour!"

I'd immediately be concerned because it seems like a really huge overreaction to a minor thing.  I would immediately want to know if something else is going on in the person's life that's affecting them, or if it would be helpful to figure out why they're reacting that way.  It's not necessarily criticizing the OP, although that does happen sometimes too.   
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shhh its me

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2011, 02:43:43 PM »
I think it depends.
Sometimes the internal thoughts are extreme reactions, and while not rude to be really angry and not say something it's valid to point out if someones reaction is extreme.   If I say I'm appalled , furious, shocked by a minnor thing and no-one says " hey it was a little rude but getting a call to wish you happy birthday at 9:15pm" it's not a reason to be furious just ask them at some other time not call after 9, is valid and if everyone just says " yeah that was rude" I believe you all agree with my level of outrage and will act accordingly. 


jimithing

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2011, 04:06:30 PM »
The problem I see is when basically the OP will name call someone on the board, or the tone is nasty, or the person they are talking about didn't really do anything wrong, but they clearly are basing their post on their personal feelings.

I think it's one thing to post something like, "Now, I really don't like my SIL. She acts like a SS, and thinks the world revolves around her.", and "My SIL is completely stupid and selfish."

ETA- And the recent thread that was locked fell into the latter, IMO.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 04:09:29 PM by jimithing »

Judah

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2011, 04:18:02 PM »
The problem I see is when basically the OP will name call someone on the board, or the tone is nasty, or the person they are talking about didn't really do anything wrong, but they clearly are basing their post on their personal feelings.

I think it's one thing to post something like, "Now, I really don't like my SIL. She acts like a SS, and thinks the world revolves around her.", and "My SIL is completely stupid and selfish."

ETA- And the recent thread that was locked fell into the latter, IMO.

I have to agree with this.  While unexpressed thoughts can't be rude, confessing them can reveal an attitude that is over the top and is coloring the poster's opinion.  I think in this case it's to the poster's benefit to have the attitude pointed out.
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aventurine

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2011, 04:19:40 PM »
The problem I see is when basically the OP will name call someone on the board, or the tone is nasty, or the person they are talking about didn't really do anything wrong, but they clearly are basing their post on their personal feelings.

I think it's one thing to post something like, "Now, I really don't like my SIL. She acts like a SS, and thinks the world revolves around her.", and "My SIL is completely stupid and selfish."

ETA- And the recent thread that was locked fell into the latter, IMO.

The disconnect, for me, is that it's still not on us to tell them they're wrong for thinking their SiL is stupid.  Maybe she is.  As long as they don't tell her so, it's not rude to think she is.  It's just not.  

I have a few people (not here, but IRL) that I think are hopelessly, wretchedly stupid.  I don't treat them ugly based on that feeling, and I would never tell them.  But do I think so?  Absolutely, and I probably always will (as long as they continue to act so).  I don't see where my thinking that in my head is in any way rude.




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jimithing

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2011, 04:24:02 PM »
The problem I see is when basically the OP will name call someone on the board, or the tone is nasty, or the person they are talking about didn't really do anything wrong, but they clearly are basing their post on their personal feelings.

I think it's one thing to post something like, "Now, I really don't like my SIL. She acts like a SS, and thinks the world revolves around her.", and "My SIL is completely stupid and selfish."

ETA- And the recent thread that was locked fell into the latter, IMO.

The disconnect, for me, is that it's still not on us to tell them they're wrong for thinking their SiL is stupid.  Maybe she is.  As long as they don't tell her so, it's not rude to think she is.  It's just not.  

I have a few people (not here, but IRL) that I think are hopelessly, wretchedly stupid.  I don't treat them ugly based on that feeling, and I would never tell them.  But do I think so?  Absolutely, and I probably always will (as long as they continue to act so).  I don't see where my thinking that in my head is in any way rude.

However, I think the *way* they are expressed on an etiquette board can be stated in a way that is not rude. Of course we all think these things. But I would never write, on this board, that I think my SIL is a stupid hag. On a private blog, or FB, maybe. But I don't think that saying that is really going to be OK for an etiquette board. It's the tone of the board that becomes the issue for me.

MrsJWine

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2011, 04:29:57 PM »
I think, on an etiquette board, the most important thing is what the person actually says or does.  Because etiquette has nothing to do with thoughts or feelings, only with words and actions.

However.  In the course of a thread, if someone tells me they think a person is a jerk or is rude or is stupid for doing something that is (to me) completely understandable, I'll explain why I think so.  For instance, our upstairs neighbors are extremely stompy.  I'm trying hard not to let it bother me, but the ill will is brewing.  If I met someone else from our apartment complex and mentioned it, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with them saying, "Well, the floors are paper-thin.  It's almost impossible not to sound like you're stomping in here, unless you tiptoe in bare feet."

If someone on here expresses a vehement disdain for another person, I think we ought to say something if we have another perspective.  Going on the attack is out of line, but I do think it's perfectly fine to say, "I think you're being uncharitable, and here's why."  This is an etiquette board, yes, but we often have threads that meander a little past the sharp, clear lines of politeness and rudeness.

ETA:  It's also very hard to hide such strong emotions.  Often, if someone is posting about how much trouble she's having with someone she thinks is stupid/low class/irritating/whatever, it occurs to me that her disdain is what's provoking some of the conflict, even if she thinks she's hiding it well.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 04:33:33 PM by MrsJWine »


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aventurine

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Re: Thoughts on thoughts
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2011, 04:47:32 PM »
After I posted last and went back to work (!) something clarified itself in my mind, and I think this is the main point I've been trying to make.

Take the thread jimithing mentioned, the one that was locked.  The poster was telling a story of someone who did something that made no sense to her, and annoyed her.  She didn't know this girl, but the girl did something that she found .. well .. stupid.  So that action made her think the girl was stupid.  (Maybe the girl is, maybe she isn't.  I don't know her.)

Me, I thought what the girl did was thoughtless, so I would have characterized her, had I been the OP, as thoughtless. 

It's not so much that the OP actually thinks the girl is stupid.  As I understood the story, she didn't even really know the girl.  However, the girl did a "stupid" thing, so the OP referred to her in her post as "stupid."  (Not the best choice of words, I can definitely agree to that.  In the house I grew up in, "stupid" is almost a cuss word.) 

But then the OP was chastised for thinking the girl was stupid.  The girl, by her own actions, had portrayed herself to the OP as stupid.   The OP still doesn't know her well enough to know if she's stupid or not.  She was just using a convenient word that described the girl's actions.  We were calling her down for an opinion she may or may not even actually hold.  She wasn't letting her opinion of the girl color her reaction to the situation.  Rather, the girl's actions created the OP's opinion of her, so telling her she was letting her opinion get in the way made no sense in that particular situation. 

I just thought it (in that instance) was non-productive.  It seemed pedantic to focus on her choice of descriptors for the girl rather than the etiquette of the situation.   





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