So Many Ways to Say, "Shut Up!"

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Or: Unintentionally Good Advice from Lifehacker

Recently, Lifehacker posted a "guide" on how to tell if you're "mansplaining." Being in a perverse mood, I took a look at it and found it to be even more ridiculous than I expected. Having two young children, I found the following to be not only the most amusing passage, but also the most illuminating:

Facial reactions in the person you are speaking to are a huge sign: [body language expert Tonya] Reiman said to look for things such as a clenched jaw, shifting the jaw to the side, or flaring the nostrils, which can be a sign of holding in anger. She calls moves like this "non-verbal sarcasm" because they're a way of letting your body say you're listening while your brain is in disbelief at what is being said to you.

Non-verbal sarcasm in the listener can quickly shift to actual shame. If the person you're talking to shifts their gaze downward or covers their neck with their hands, that's a sign you're not only mansplaining, but have the person you're talking to has also basically given up on the conversation.

"They feel shame," Reiman said. "That person is either feeling something emotional or they're feeling like they've just been hit."
It is a good idea to practice being aware of signs that someone is becoming defensive and asking oneself whether it might be due to problems in one's communication style. But, given the insulting term and its source from the "microagression crowd, it is hard to take this advice as anything other than, "Walk on eggshells or shut up." I can't help but imagine myself talking to a kid in a contrary mood when I read the above -- and being expected to concede to their demands every time I see so much as a pout. (But shame? Really? If someone feels embarrassed when confronted with a differing opinion, it's on them to examine why: That's a completely different feeling than the justifiable anger about being treated badly.)

Having said the above, the article is "right" by accident about one thing: If you are scrupulous about etiquette, and about how you communicate with others, and find yourself facing someone about to melt down, anyway, it probably is time to end the conversation. But this is because you are likely wasting your time.

-- CAV

P.S. I am old enough to remember when "woman driving" was, as this piece puts it of "mansplaining", "a thing." Even if women then were more likely to be poor drivers or, as this article indicates, men are more likely to rudely express uninformed opinions, both terms are inherently insulting and have no place in polite conversation.


Dinwar said...

I have given up on Lifehacker. Back in the day they had interesting ideas for improving your life--sometimes they worked, sometimes not, but they were at least worth taking a look at. Now they mostly seem to spout Left-wing propaganda. If I wanted that, I'd turn on MSNBC. I don't recall the last time I looked at that website and found an article that was informative or entertaining; the articles they post now are just vile.

Gus Van Horn said...

I haven't followed them closely at all for some time now, and had just assumed that this piece, which cropped up in a feed, was just par for the course in the lefty tech press. Sad to hear.