The four worst communication errors you can make

I’ve had some truly frustrating communications failures this week so I thought I’d compile a list of things you shouldn’t do. Because the internet loves lists. And you shouldn’t do these things. Unless you want to piss me off. Probably other people too. But other people didn’t really figure into my thinking. I just get really pissed off when people do these things to me.

1. When you’re asked a yes/no question, don’t waffle on with some rubbish that is neither yes nor no.

“Are you coming out with us tonight or not?”

“Well, I’m just reading this article, then I have to make a phone call and there was a show I wanted to watch…”

“SO FUCKING WHAT? DOES THAT MEAN YES OR NO???”

2. When you’re asked for more information with an open question, don’t give a yes/no answer.

“Where were you when we were having a meeting?”

“No.”

“What?”

“No, I wasn’t at the meeting.”

“I know that. What was the reason?”

“Yes.”

“What?”

“Yes, there was a reason.”

“Just piss off.”

3. Don’t give an answer that doesn’t help with the question. Even if your “answer” is factually correct, if it isn’t actually answering the question it’s useless.

“Does anybody know a good Mexican restaurant near Melbourne?”

“There’s a Chinese place in Sydney I really like.”

“What’s that got to do with a Mexican place in Melbourne?”

“I don’t like Mexican food.”

“Fuck off.”

4. When someone is using abstractions or giving an illustrative example, don’t obsess about taking it literally.

“This would be like if we were going to have a roast lamb dinner, bought all the ingredients but didn’t have an oven to cook it in”*

“I’m a vegetarian.”

“What?”

“I can’t eat the flesh of a lamb corpse – I’m a vegetarian.”

“We’re not really having lamb.”

“You should plan to roast the flesh of murdered animals without consulting with the group.”

“You shouldn’t ever eat anything I offer you. Because it will have poison in it.”

 

So whether it’s a professional setting, a social setting or communicating in a relationship, try to avoid these mistake. I know I’m not the only one driven crazy by them. As a bonus, here’s an old video abusing another type of person I can’t stand being in a discussion with – the factard. This is the sort of person who insists on derailing a conversation with a point that may be factually true but adds absolutely nothing to the conversation and stops others from communicating in any meaningful way.

 

 

*I have no idea what this is an analogy for – I made it up. It’s an illustrative example of an illustrative example. It’s example-ception. Don’t think about it too long – it will asplode you brain.

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Confused trans teenager or callous liar?

The subject of gender identity is something I’ve been learning more about in recent years. As a straight white male I have the easiest time in regards to sexuality – everything in western society is geared to affirming that I’m making the right choices about my sexuality and gender identity. Maybe the whips & chain and creative use of condiments are slightly outside the vanilla spectrum but I have nothing to complain about.

I will admit to one of my enduring prejudices toward people whose gender identity fell outside the idea of a male/female binary was that they were being a bit self-indulgent, maybe they’re just a bit messed up and they’re taking things too far. The truth is, you only have to do a very small amount of research into the issue to realise that what’s really self-indulgent is thinking you can assign everyone a simple male/female identity.

Just the physical characteristics people can be born with go far beyond two options. Then there’s the loss/removal of body parts as a result of accident or illness. To say someone is less of a man or a woman simply because they don’t have the external (or internal) signifiers that define male/female for you is insulting and flat out stupid.

And let’s not even start on what defines your identity in the emotional or non-physical sense. Seriously, let’s not go too far down that road. I’m not an expert and I’d be bound to say something stupid. Nobody *knows* exactly what defines an individual’s identity and sexuality (anybody who says different is deluded or lying). There are a lot experts with their own hypotheses but as the dominant school of thought seems to change every decade or so, I take the idea of there being a definitive answer with a grain of salt. I try to accept people for how they see themselves and choose to lead their lives so long as they aren’t actively hurting someone else.

All of that was a lead up to talking about a story a friend shared with me recently. The story was headlined “Should trans people have to disclose their birth gender before sex?” It’s written from an activist viewpoint with a clear agenda and I always try to not take this type of article at face value, even if I agree with their standpoint. We all have a tendency to succumb to confirmation bias so I decided to tread carefully with this one and not automatically assume everything in the article was true.

The writer make some amusing points out of a quite serious court case. Namely, that you can lie about the size of your dick, or if anyone else has a claim on your dick but you better not lie about whether or not you actually have, or used to have, a dick. If your opinion of your gender identity doesn’t match the opinion of someone who has sex with you, you can face criminal prosecution.

The case involved the prosecution of a 17 year old whose birth name is Justine McNally but is more comfortable presenting himself as a boy, using the name Scott. Scott was convicted of sexual offences for “deceiving” his 16 year old partner into thinking he was a biological male. For an example of confirmation bias coming from the opposite direction, try reading the Huffington Post’s description of the same case: “Justine McNally, who pretended to be a boy to take 16 year old schoolgirl’s virginity, jailed

Just the choice of emotive terms in the headline gives you all you need to know about the article. Even though there is only a one year gap in the two parties’ ages, the report makes it clear they see this as a simple case of a malicious deceiver targeting an innocent virgin schoolgirl. The two had known each other since they were 12 and 13 and McNally waited until they were both of legal age before initiating sexual contact. I’d argue that hiding the central factor of your gender identity is unwise but it’s hardly evil. If every teenager who made poor choices as a result of romantic or sexual longing was jailed, that would make for some seriously overcrowded prison.

This article gives some considerable analysis of the actual judgement which makes it fairly clear that the Huffington Post article is not simply wrongheaded, it’s factually wrong. The HuffPo doesn’t limit itself to completely glossing over the gender identity issues, saying the person of Scott was a simple lie, not an attempt to express a true sense of self, but actually says “Promising the girl they would marry and have children, McNally had sex with her three times using the strap-on dildo.” This is simply not true.

One of the factors that led to McNally being “found out” was parental discovery of a sex toy and there was an allegation this was used on the 16 year old girl. McNally categorically denied this and the charge was never pursued. While the conviction was for “sexual assault by penetration” the penetration was with tongue and fingers. While that would still be a serious form of sexual assault, McNally asserts that the relationship was consensual and it really does seem that the conviction is based solely upon McNally’s identity not being what her partner thought it was – “I wanted a boy to do that to me, not a girl.”

The HuffPo article is so much worse than wrong – it is dishonest, bigoted and hateful. It helps no-one and anyone associated with its publication should be ashamed of themselves.

For people whose sexuality or gender identity makes them marginalised, it can be very difficult to know when to fully explain the situation to others. More than that, it can be life threatening. Trans and gay people are murdered far too often simply for who they are and the disgusting thing is that the perpetrator can use “gay panic” as a defence and it can work. In fact, this case is so similar to “Boys Don’t Cry” that it freaked me out a bit.

For myself (and I know this is coming from a position of privilege) I say as a hard and fast rule you should tell someone the whole truth BEFORE any intimate contact. But what’s the worst that could happen to me? Someone could get pissed off at me but I’m not going to face criminal charges. There is established case law that says I can’t be prosecuted if I lie about the size of my dick, how good I might be with it, my marital status, my wealth, my age.

But if you’re in a sexual situation where you don’t fully explain something that even you might not fully understand, it looks like you’re shit out of luck.

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Twitter troll doesn’t want you to tell his mum

I’ve always said internet trolls were typical bullies – utterly gutless when it comes to having to take responsibility for their words or actions. And stupid. More often than not, people who think it’s a good idea to troll or bully others online are really, really stupid.

Rarely have I seen these elements come together so perfectly as they did with one Oliver Rawlings this week. While Professor Mary Beard was talking on BBC Radio 2 about being upset at the level of trolling directed at her after appearing on another BBC show “Question Time”, Rawlings saw fit to tweet “Retweet this you filthy old slut. I bet your vagina is disgusting.”

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So he’s a vile little twerp who think being an idiot is funny. It seems elitist education doesn’t guarantee any sort of class as Rawlings is a 20 year old university student who went to a ridiculously expensive school. When he was called out by the radio host he refused to back down. Because he’s a proper hard man, he is.

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You see? He won’t be silenced! Twitter is his voice! And he’s not afraid to say it to your face either. Because look at his face! Apparently this will have some affect on you. If you think about it. Honestly, I’m not sure what his point is here.

Is there anything that could make such a fearless Twitter warrior back down? Well, turns out there is.

Threaten to tell his mum.

I’m serious. This absolute moron is posting this ridiculously needless and vile trash with his real name and real photo. Apparently completely unaware of the fact there could be any downside to this. Then this happened:

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And approximately nanoseconds late came the loser’s grovelling apology.

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I didn’t think is was possible for someone who would make that first tweet to come across as even more worthless and pathetic but turning into a blubbering mess because someone is going to tell your mummy you’ve been a bad boy?

Wow. Just… wow.

He also posted a longer justification for his miserable behaviour on Facebook.

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That rubbish is so self-serving and insincere I reckon your average politician would be green with envy. Saying he “apologised immediately” is a direct lie. Oh, unless he actually meant to type “as soon as I thought someone would tell my mum”. Fucking loser.

And he actually used the “out of context” line! This is the equivalent of “I’m not racist, but…” The cowardice needed to make the original tweet because you’re stupid enough to think you won’t have to face any consequences then make sad non-apologies when you do get blowback is extraordinary.

This guy’s a real catch. Privileged, obnoxious, bullying and cowardly. I’m sure there are some people saying he should be pursued and punished but I don’t agree. Having to live with the humiliation of the world knowing you’re such a sad little tosser is punishment enough.

And as it’s clear he only offered his empty apology when someone threatened to tell his mum, it must have been disappointing when he made the front page of the paper:

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So the next time you have to put up with someone attempting to troll or bully you online, comfort yourself with the knowledge that they are nothing more than a sad, cowardly loser.

And they’re scared of their mum.

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The stupidest comment ever

Q: How stupid can people get?

A: FUCKING STUPID! That is how stupid they can get.

Q: Are the stupidest commenters on the internet to be found on YouTube?

A: Yes. Yes they are. There is a lot of competition but a special sort of stupid can be found on YouTube.

I am trying to distill stupid YouTube commenters down to the most stupid they can possibly be. This is somewhat challenging. I think I need to somehow crystallise how some people demand I hold the exact opposite viewpoint to the one I have just expressed. I get that people can disagree with me but how can someone be so stupid as demand I completely reverse my point of view and think that is an even vaguely intelligent thing to say?

Seriously, they actually seem to think this will work. As if the only thing I have been missing my whole life is their dazzling insight and now I will completely change who I am because they have enlightened me.

Fucking morons.

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Justin Bieber “Baby” – Anger-Pella cover

This is how my mind works. “Hey, I should do angry spoken word versions of pop songs – that would be funny!”

I have to thank the person (I’ve forgotten who – sorry!) who suggested I do “Baby” when I mentioned this on Twitter. As soon as I looked at the lyrics I realised this was some crazy stalker shit if you did it in an angry way.

I look forward to the love from Beliebers!

 

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Christopher Pyne is a LIAR!

Christopher Pyne is a liar. That isn’t saying very much – he’s a politician. Everyone lies at some point, politicians more than most. I’ve also made no secret of the fact that Pyne is probably my least favourite Australian politician so it’s hardly surprising I’d single him out. 

Think about that for a moment. With my regularly expressed contempt for politicians he’s the bottom of the pile. That takes some doing. Admittedly it’s very crowded at the bottom of the pile and there’s a lot of close runners up for the worst of the worst but for me, Pyne is right down there at the very bottom.

The reason I feel compelled to call him out as a liar is a very specific thing he said to the media recently. After the clusterfuck that was the ALP’s destructive wrangling about who should be party leader was resolved**, Pyne said that he was still receiving text messages from Labor MPs who had a definite plan to replace PM Gillard with challenger Rudd.

This is a complete fucking lie.

Just on the face of it, it’s utterly ridiculous. Dissident Labor MPs messaging an opposition front bencher and telling him their plans? Really? I call bullshit. I know the media has gotten into the habit of uncritically swallowing and regurgitating LNP lies for years now but this is too fucking far. It’s worse than if it was only another one of their lies, it’s insultingly stupid.

Pyne’s statement to the ABC “I’m still getting text messages from supporters of his in the caucus telling me that they plan to remove Julia Gillard in 71 days (June 3),” is a straight out lie. He should be made to publicly admit the lie and apologise.

Here’s an interesting thing: what I’ve just written is actionable under Australian defamation law. Unless it’s true. There’s no such thing as “freedom of speech” under law in Australia. If I have falsely accused Pyne of lying it would be quite simple for him to sue me and win in an Australian court.

But he won’t. Because I’m not defaming him. I’m telling the truth.

I will admit to being a little surprised that he’d spout such an easily provable lie. Saying he had text messages was a big mistake because these are traceable. Even if both he and the sender deleted the messages the carrier would still have a record of them. And that would have to be presented in court if he wanted to sue me.

So despite the fact that Australia has some pretty fucked up defamation laws, I’m not worried about calling Christopher Pyne a liar. Because it isn’t defamation. It’s the simple truth.

Lets be clear: he said multiple Labor MPs have texted him with definite plans to topple Gillard in a fixed timeframe. If he can’t provide evidence to back up those specific claims, he’s a liar. “Sources” who claim they know what’s going on isn’t good enough, he said it was actual Labor MPs. A single Labor MP isn’t good enough, he said it was more than one. And whispers in his ear aren’t good enough, he said it was text messages which, as I pointed out, can be recovered even if both sender and recipient have deleted them.

So how about it media? Will somebody please put this pathetic liar on the spot and force him to admit to his lies? Or are we going to have to continue to put up with this blatant unchecked bullshit?

Don’t worry, I know the answer.

**A little aside to LNP supporters: None of this is intended to suggest that the repeated attempts at self-destruction by Labor are anything but pathetic and frankly embarrassing. They will almost certainly pay by being utterly crushed at the next Federal election. But that doesn’t change the fact that Pyne is a fucking liar.

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Wyrd Sisters

You know that nice girl you were a jerk to? She and her sisters are going to murder you in your sleep.

And to anyone who wants to know why I posted something this weird: YOUR FACE WANTS TO KNOW WHY I POSTED THIS! Shut up! You’re not the boss of me! You’re not even my real dad!

The title is a combined Shakespeare/Discwordl tribute.

This is my friends Viola, Rhianna and Sarah. They did some weird, crazy laughing for me when were were having a picnic in the park and I promised I could make it weirder.

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