What Does the World Get Wrong About Your Demographic?

When it comes to your gender, ethnicity, race, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, age, appearance, or anything else—is there something about the way well-meaning people in society view you or treat you that you wish would change? Most of us would agree that hateful people should be less hateful, so that’s not what this question is about—it’s about what open-minded, well-intentioned people could do better in the way they understand your demographic and how they interact with you about who you are.

For example, this question arose when a lesbian friend of mine said that people tend to be kind of timid to ask if she has a partner or to bring up her partner in conversation. She thinks it’s more awkward for people than asking a straight woman about her husband, and she thinks part of the reason is that they’re not sure what term they should use—”partner” or “wife.” (She is fine with either, but normally defaults to “partner.” She also said that someone recently asked her, while mumbling over their words, about her “lover,” which she found hilarious and assured me is not the preferred term.)

Society has the propensity to botch stuff like this, sometimes because we’re being inadvertently insensitive and hurtful, and other times because we’re being over-the-top PC for no reason and unnecessarily tiptoeing around. My lesbian friend said it seems silly to her how nervous people get about talking to her about being a lesbian, as if it’s a delicate topic—she says that she doesn’t think it’s weird that people have questions and that people should just ask instead of worrying that asking will come off as offensive or ignorant.

Society is like a couple who doesn’t communicate—most of us mean well, and it’s often just a lack of dialogue that’s at the root of many of our problems. So let’s discuss. If there’s something the world is messing up about who you are—in the way they think about it, talk about it, or interact with you about it—tell us about it.

You can sign up for the Dinner Table email list here to be notified about the new topic each week, and remember to submit future topic suggestions to table@waitbutwhy.com.

  • DeeDee Massey

    Just yesterday I was again questioned about my sexual orientation, that I couldn’t possibly be a “true” bisexual, that I must have a preference for men. I’m as close to a “3” on the Kinsey scale as a person can get.

    I like how this gal dispels common misconceptions about bisexuality.


    • DeeDee Massey

      And Tim, I’m wondering why you asked us to answer from a personal perspective, but your own example was about someone else?

      It’s OK if you don’t wish to share your personal stuff, and those who do chime in with their own stories might chose to do so anonymously, of course. I was just curious if you didn’t share a personal example because you are someone who never feels misunderstood, or perhaps even more impressively has mastered the art of DGAF?

      • James

        Being bi is great!

  • cah3822

    As an atheist in the heartland I am not very open about my lack of religiosity. I work with people who have strong Christian beliefs and some are aware of my atheism but have never spoken to me directly about it. Most try to avoid talking religion with me at all costs but if it ever comes up they always manage to make an awkward spectacle of my atheism. Just once I wish they would have the balls to just open up a discussion with me about it.

    • Thea

      This is interesting for me, I live in an environment in which exactley vice versa happens – to be religious is at least a notable thing (if you’re not an elderly person). I’m not religious either and I have to admit I’m among the ones who are shy about asking question. I think I’m a respectful person and I always try to “feel with” people to understand them… but the times that I tried to ask I didn’t really come up with anything apart having the feeling that I made the person feel like “the odd one” and that he was not grateful. So I stopped trying.

  • roger_orange

    I’m on the cusp of Gen X and the despised Millenial demo, and I think almost everything Boomer pundits have been saying about us since the ’90s screams of guilt-riddled psychological projection. (Hi, David Brooks and Doonesbury!)

    I am a straight white male, and I think that although much of the online Social Justice community’s criticism is firm but fair, its constant goalpost-moving is counterproductive. If it’s going to go mainstream, it will need to establish some consistency. Just telling massive swaths of people to shut up isn’t much help to anyone.

    I have unusual sexual proclivities. Although the BDSM community seems to exist largely to take all the fun out of being a pervert, Scott Alexander’s thoughts on the subject are … [kisses fingertips]… *magnifique*.


  • Erwin

    I’m from The Netherlands and wherever you go, as a dutch person you’ll make friends easily, as people somehow seem to think that being dutch makes you pretty likely to carry anything ranging from marijuana to mdma with you. Having said that, Holland actually owes that image to the 70’s and 80’s and than more specific to Amsterdam at that time, but nowadays Holland isn’t necessarily that liberal if it comes to drugs. Just like anywhere else it is still a big taboo…

    Now, I do use drugs at times and no, i’m not an addict, i’m not in any trouble and my mind is not constantly fogged. I have always been quite open about it (towards my parents, towards people who asked – unless I had serious suspicions that it could bring me in trouble) but most people aren’t at all. Actually most people I know do drugs sometimes, and it seems that when i’m abroad it seems to be the same deal there as well. Most users actually are able to use drugs without any complications at all, but it is unseen and largely unknown, as those very same people have an image and social status to keep up, and speaking openly about doing drugs would deminish that – which will exactly stay like that, because of that.

    Somehow I find it weird that society seems to have so much trouble with something that actually isn’t that big of a deal – and would be even less of a deal when it would be accepted and regulated, as most trouble with drugs exist just because of that. That’s why I do applaud that some biggies from silicon valley are talking quite openly lately about, for example, their LSD usage and try to show another perspective on drugs, one which isn’t all negative.

    Basically when it comes to drugs, as with a lot of other subjects, people are affraid of the unknown. I guess that is why it seems that persons with the strongest opinions against drugs are the ones who have no experience with it at all and often do not even know a thing about the substances they are talking about.

    I do not necessarily see that as a problem for me as a person, but on a bigger scale this big taboo actually is a very serious problem. Take for example the fact that a lot of research on a lot of substances – that could potentially be very helpful to many – has not been done because of restrictions etc. I guess it’s good that more and more people are getting less stressed on the subject, especially in the US I see good progress going on.

  • Jill Dicen

    My husband and I chose to not have children. Yet there are still people who ask why. I don’t mind if you ask me “if” I have any children and when I reply no, you drop it from there. I do mind however when you ask me “why” I don’t. I know people are curious, but that doesn’t excuse your need to satisfy it. It’s just rude. Being a childless woman can only mean either I can’t physically have one or I chose not to. Either way, it’s simply none of your business. Please respect it as I respect you and your choices. That’s all I ask.

    • roger_orange

      Right there with you. My wife and I don’t want children. It doesn’t get much more complicated than that. We’re not particularly selfish, infertile, or secretly gay.

    • DeeDee Massey

      People seem to make judgments about those who don’t and those who do have children as well. While most people wouldn’t say things like “Why did you stop at [#]?” or “Why did you have so many?”, some people still make rude remarks.

      I’ve been told I look young for my age, so when some people find out how old my children are, I’ve heard, “Wow, started really young, huh?” Although a few might intend flattery, others obviously are casting judgement about having children in early adult life or as a teen. Actually, I didn’t have them “really young.” I was a tax-paying adult, over 21 and serving my country. Even if I had been a teen mom, I’m sure that like anyone else in that situation, I wouldn’t want to receive criticism from strangers about my reproductive choices either.

      I don’t feel the need to defend or explain my choices, but I understand that people are curious, especially about close friends or loved ones. I have canned responses for strangers to politely redirect the conversation, but I might decide to share details with loved ones.

      • Cyanmoon1

        I often get the line about starting young, too, even though I was 27 when my twins were born! Drives me insane, both the assumption and implied judgment.

    • seaweed025

      I feel you. People often give me an odd look when I say: I’m single, because I want to be single, no, I don’t have any kids and I’m not planning to, yes, I’m 31, so what? People are conditioned to live according an inflexible set of rules and hope everyone live by them. I rather live happy than live to please people. I hope someday people understand that it’s my life, and I chose to be happy by my own standards

    • SelectFromWhere

      Childfree people definitely suffer from some of the most inaccurate stereotyping of any group. If you don’t want kids, why would someone want to “force” you to have them!? How would that be good for the hypothetical child! And as for the “selfish” moniker, you can’t be “selfish” against someone who doesn’t exist. You want to see “selfish”, just watch video footage of a bunch of Moms waiting outside a toy store on Black Friday in a year when there is a high-demand toy that’s popular!

    • Jason Kay

      My wfie and Idon’t have kids… My favorite response to the “do-we-have-children question” is – “Good for you! I wish we didn’t / were strong enough not to cave to the pressure…”

  • Cyanmoon1

    My issue: I am extremely sensitive to external stimuli; sensory overstimulation can limit my ability to function. That high-pitched buzzing nobody else can hear will drive me demented. Any combination of things like bright/flashing lights, loud/sudden noise, large crowds of people, wind on my face, or bad smells can make me all but shut down.
    What I wish people would understand: I am not making it up. I am not trying to be difficult. I hate it, it makes my life harder, but it’s just the way I’m wired.

    • Erwin

      Wow, that must be difficult indeed. The thing that makes such a thing more difficult is that almost nobody seems to be able to understand people with neurologic conditions they don’t have themselves. And maybe the ‘almost’ before nobody is put a bit euphemistically.

      I have ADHD and besides people who laugh such a thing away as being some hype-disease or whatever (I don’t even mind that) it is just near to impossible to get people to understand how that makes my brain function differently from theirs. People listen, but never take it. It always ends like the other person saying: “Well, yes, I understand. But the thing is, I am not focussed too sometimes and then I just find a way to get focussed and that works fine for me, that’s what you should do.”

      Right. So you don’t understand.

      Actually I think it’s even better to give up trying to explain, people will take it as an excuse for failures or whatever anyway, which it definitely is not. Excuse and explanation are different things, but well… Not to everyone I guess.

      However, in your case it must be even much worse and the shittiest thing about it is that it will probably never change – people simply seem unable to take the fact that some brains function differently.

  • Jacob Nestle

    How about the fact that I’m underage (as in, under 21) and everyone seems to do that whole pat-on-the-head thing? Figuratively, not literally.
    I’m aware that I have a ton of experience to get. People are constantly inadvertently condescending, which really annoys me. They all mean well, but I’d prefer that they actually taught me things instead of saying “which you’ll learn when you’re older”.
    This isn’t an epidemic problem, but it’s certainly noticeable: people seem surprised when I can hold a conversation about politics or religion. This isn’t usually with people who’ve known me for awhile but with people who essentially judge me based on my age.

    Both indicative of people’s lack of judging others on merit and instead on age.

    • roger_orange

      Some of us are just insanely jealous. 😉

    • SelectFromWhere

      Jacob, fair enough, but the one thing about your situation is that you will eventually be “older” and also that these “older” people have once been in your demographic and subject to the same sterotypes. It’s a little different situation than demographic traits where the one who does the stereotyping has never and will never be a member of the stereotyped group. I remember being your age and feeling the same way, FWIW, and try not to make blanket assumptions about your age cohort even as many of them make “old man” stereotypes about ME (and I’m only 50, which is not in fact “old). Many of us do judge on merit and are in fact relieved to see “responsible” people of your age group who “give us hope for the future” (to be syrupy about it).

  • Dorinda

    I am non-religious, non-political-party, not interested in getting married, and generally non-label (though accepting that people will give me labels and understanding that not needing labels is my white-ish, straight-ish, middle class-ish privilege in the US). Being “non” is not being “anti”. I will think about the world; I will vote; I will dance at your wedding; I will listen to your ideas and accept your self-identification. I’m not indifferent or angry. I just like to take in pieces of information separately and form my own understanding

    • Jill Dicen

      Bravo Dorinda!

  • Michael

    Society really doesn’t understand picky eaters. I get so sick of that moment when some new friend realizes what I am, and goes through the inevitable process of listing foods all normal humans eat, then laughing at me. “You don’t eat lettuce? What about salsa? Ranch dressing? Thai food? Catsup? Oh my god, you don’t even eat catsup, how do you avoid starving to death?!”

    It’s a real bitch not being able to eat what everybody else eats, because food is a gigantic part of social interaction and human bonding. Friends want to enjoy food together, but when you’re a picky eater, it’s so much less annoying to eat alone, like a vampire.

    I really tried to get over this, but it’s pointless. I remember a famous episode from my life where I loved and respected my friend and his wonderful family enough to sit at their table and eat their dinner. I couldn’t do it without gagging and retching, and I ended up offending everyone so severely that I still catch shit about it 30 years later. I TRIED to eat the goddamn food, but it was exactly the same kind of reaction I would have if I tried to eat a fresh steamy dog turd straight out of a dog’s ass. GROSS!

    I can’t help it. I freely acknowledge that I’m the freak here, but I really don’t have any desire to change. Why would I want to learn how to eat dog turds?

    I can’t ask the world to change, but I do ask the world to just leave me the hell alone, let me eat, and quit giving me shit about it.

    • DeeDee Massey

      I’m usually not a picky eater, but lately I’ve started making another attempt at a Paleo-ish nutrition effort (not a “diet” but a sustainable plan), and pretty much everything that is decadent is off-limits. I’m trying to reserve a little wiggle room for social occasions and those gatherings where I don’t want to seem ungrateful for what I’m served. I can have plenty of meat in the right proportions, but I’m bracing myself for questions like some of the ones you mentioned. Legumes are not Paleo, so I wonder if I’ll hear anything like this from my veggie friends. “What do you mean, you don’t eat no beans? It’s OK, I’ll make lentils.” 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFemw_6a-Tg

  • Vivid

    I am an Indian. I used to work in a call center for British Telecom. I used to get calls from British customers. Many customers would just hung up listening to my Indian accent. some would rudely ask for somebody from their country to talk. Now I am not sure if they were being racist or just not comfortable speaking with a foreign person, but I was very uncomfortable because of that. I sincerely wanted to help customers, which all of us were trained to, but many were not necessarily willing to be honest in attending calls. I was. Every hung up call because of my nationality used to upset me. I am not angry or blaming them. I am just honestly telling my feelings about all this. I feel that most of the developed nations inadvertently make up their mind about nations like India. Which is not irrational, I have to say. We certainly have our own downsides, lack in economy, and don’t have many smart engineers, and this is not a fact to hide. It is true. For example, if I call customer care for a company that I am related to, I would not want to talk to a guy based in countries that are worse than ours. So, if some person from a developed nation find us incompetent, it is not their fault and their judgement is logical. That is what upsets me. Because for every 90 correct judgements that a guy from a developed nation would make about us, there is a probability that 10 judgements would be wrong.
    And, in this world of internet, this matters.

    • James

      I can’t speak for everyone, but in some cases it may just be because they had trouble understanding you over the phone. I have several very close Indian friends and I think Indian people are wonderful, personally.

      • Vivid

        Aww, thanks, James. 🙂

    • Highlyamused

      Over the last 25 years of being in business, I’ve had many gadgets, hardware, software problems that needed troubleshooting. I’ll say this: “I love my Indian geeky gurus!”. I’ve had really nice conversations with them and not to mention that they know what they’re doing. So, Vivid…I got your back over here in the US of A.

      • Vivid

        Hey, a big thanks for that. I appreciate it.
        I have to admit that in British Telecom, majority of calls were from old age Britishers. And they certainly had problems with communication, understanding our accent, etc. So, it is cool. 🙂

  • Visible Minority

    I haven’t had someone be too sensitive towards me, but I have had someone be too sensitive on behalf of me. I was at a friend’s wedding, sitting with a few of his family members from other states. One of them asked me if I went to American like the groom. Another family member jumped in and scolded, “You can’t just ask if she’s American!” He was referring to American University where my friend and I go to school. She apologized and said she just didn’t want me to feel like I needed to defend myself. I thanked her and joked, “Well, it’s alright if people ask me because then I get to say I’m American.” So in my experience, sometimes, being Vietnamese American translates into hypersensitivity in the non-Asian people around me. It’s not frustrating — it’s kind but just surprising.

  • RF42

    I live in a suburb of Chicago. What I hate is the fact that due to the media’s portrayal of my city and the misuse of statistics, people have this idea that living in Chicago is much like living in war zone. You can’t drive down the street without people shooting at you, kids can’t walk to school without getting killed, and it’s pretty much the wild wild west around here. This is so not true. Like any large city, there are definitely neighborhoods that you don’t want to go into. And our level of gun violence is both a city and national shame. Sadly, it’s gang members killing gang members with too many innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. But I am far more terrified of identity theft than I am of getting shot. Chicago is a gorgeous city with millions of great, friendly, non-gun-toting people. I wish people would give Chi-Raq a rest.

  • My wife decided to stay at home with our son and our future kid on the way. We are so happy that this is something we can do but I feel terrible for her sometimes in what an isolating experience it can be. This is especially true when there isn’t any family nearby that can help with anything regularly. She doesn’t pretend that being a stay at home mom is literally the toughest job in the world, but it leads to a certain type of exhaustion that I didn’t fully appreciate until being a parent. We’ve both had demanding jobs that have caused us to be drained, but there is something special about the mental and emotional toll that being constantly “on” with a infant or toddler can provide. Going to work for me can honestly be somewhat of a break. Hell even being able to drive to work by yourself is relaxing now.

    We chose to go down this path and we love it, but if you know someone who stays home with their kid and who doesn’t have a lot of support from family, reach out and say hello or stop by because it will mean a lot!

  • SelectFromWhere

    Southerners! I have lived my whole life in the South and have a mild Southern accent, but I am NOT:

    -ignorant and uneducated
    -politically conservative

    The media almost 100% portrays Southerners as any or all of these things, and most commenters to blogs reiterate these stereotypes.

    -Signed, a left-wing agnostic open-minded progressive who is also proud to be Southern

  • Jason Sypsa

    I am annoyed at how especially highly educated people tend to condescend to people with religious convictions. It’s not that I’m entirely convinced one way or the other as to God’s existence but to assume that my faith is uninformed and willfully ignorant comes off as a way to stifle reasonable discussion. As is true with just about every arbitrary label invented, the truth of an individual’s beliefs are so much deeper and nuanced and actually span and transcend the polar opposites of atheism / theism.

    • Adam

      I’m personally an atheist, but I’d much rather talk to a well-informed theist than an ignorant atheist. It’s the ability to defend your beliefs that make them informed, not what the beliefs themselves are.

    • gyo

      Thank you ! sometimes uneducated atheists condescend highly Educated people who are religious (or spiritual). It gives them a sense of superiority like nothing else, ignorant superiority…so annoying.

    • N00less Cluebie

      I’m in the same boat–I find many “educated” atheists assume I’m anti-science because I’m religious. In fact I see religion and science as two separate tools to answer different sets of questions; Science addresses the what, how, and when. I use Religion to address the why.

      • bob

        Why does there need to be a why? (Not trying to be a dick just trying to start a conversation)

        • N00less Cluebie

          I’m not talking about grand universal WHY; only PERSONAL why. I don’t believe religion have the ONE TRUE ANSWER for everyone but rather they can be used to aim is in the direction of discovering our OWN directions for living.

  • Anon Homeschooler

    Homeschoolers (I’m a homeschooler in middle school) are often portrayed as highly religious kids who have no friends and are literally taught by their moms. This is so NOT true! I have many friends that I see plenty. I am taking many online courses that challenge my abilities, and I am agnostic.

    Even though school kids see their friends at school, I would argue that they probably don’t have very high-quality time with them while they are at school. Even if I only see my peers around 2-4 days per week, when I do see them, I can really talk to them; it is very quality socialization time.

    Another myth: homeschoolers are sheltered. Some are, but that is not true of everyone! I am probably less sheltered than the average school kid.

    Some true myths: you get to stay in your pajamas all day (totally true, it’s awesome). You get to sleep in as late as you want (I’m usually out of bed around 9).

    Believing these myths about homeschoolers is like believing all school kids are uninteresting, uniform, lack personality, all wear the same thing, all talk about the same thing.

  • Rob Pillow

    Curve Ball here. I am from Mississippi and am often categorized as an intolerant bigot with an IQ below 70 when I first meet a person. I am not arguing it is unjustified (our history is a bit sordid if you haven’t heard), rather I will argue that this stereotype is infuriating to those Southerners who want to set a new example for their state. People judge my accent very quickly, and I once believed that I actually was less intelligent than the rest of the country. As I began travel, however, I realized that most of the people who characterized me as unintelligent were just as unintelligent as I am. The difference was they covered their lack of knowledge in a different accent and didn’t use “y’all” as a 3rd person plural pronoun. Whenever I meet a person from the north, there is an inevitable introduction that goes something like this: “No, I am not a racist… Yes, we wear shoes…Of course we have air conditioning, its freaking hot in Mississippi!”

    I believe this to be a problem because their are bright individuals in Mississippi who are often not given a chance to voice their opinion because they speak differently. My hope is that if I meet you somewhere in this wonderful world, we can have an intelligent conversation about an article from waitbutwhy.com without assumed stereotypes.

    • Jason Sypsa

      I totally feel where you are coming from on the accent stereotypes. I was born and raised in the deep south and for whatever reason don’t have a recognizable southern accent since living in the Midwest and now in the eastern seaboard, but I don’t shy away from informing people of my roots and trying to subvert the common stereotypes espoused by friends, acquaintances, and workmates.

  • Tyler Leedom

    What society is messing up with my demographic is simply placing a label on it. And like most people sometimes my smallmindedness feels the need to defend myself, but in reality that is me subscribing to the demographic illusion that I end up defending. Our world is set up in a way that we feel the need to call and compartmentalize things and in the long run I believe that really perpetuates small minded thinking, it accentuates opposites and moves us further from reality.
    Just because I was born and raised and currently live in the United States does not mean my core human being is an American. It is simply an artificial illusion that I was born between certain borders and ultimately in our superficial society gives me certain rights to move about the borders I was born within and accrue benefits that are offered to people within these borders, but I very well could have been bored in Nigeria. I am not an American, that is a label, not who I am. Same goes for all these labels. They are all illusions.

  • Adam

    I’d like to bring up obsessive-compulsive disorder. I absolutely do not have OCD, so it’s not something the world gets wrong about me, but it’s something the world gets wrong. The problem is the way the it is mentioned informally: “oh yeah, I get so OCD about my wardrobe being neat”, or whatever. That’s not OCD. OCD is a genuine condition, not an emotion like “anger” or mild concern about neatness. People with OCD might wash their hands until they’re red, or even bleeding, because they feel so dirty all the time. They might not be able to stand doing anything involving an odd number (e.g. knocking on the door 3 times). If they accidentally touch a stove with their left hand, and burn themselves, they might force themselves to burn their right hand as well, because asymmetry is something they absolutely have to avoid.

    Sometimes I’m pedantic about punctuation/spelling/grammar. Sometimes I have little rituals I semi-consciously perform. Sometimes I have to wash a spoon three or four times because it still feels unclean. But none of these interfere with my life. You can’t be “a bit OCD” about something. You either have the condition (to whatever extent), or you’re a normal person exhibiting normal thoughts that don’t take over their life.

    • Ruchi Koval

      Thank you. Ditto for ADHD.

    • Brynn

      Ditto with Bipolar disorder.

      • James

        Agreed, people use the term Bipolar too casually. If someone is remotely mood swingy(even when its justified, and not uncontrollable/unpredictable) people will use the term. I’m not bipolar but it bothers me.

    • Jonathan Wells

      Thanks. Ditto for depression. People do tend to use “depressed” to mean sad or upset. “I was so depressed they didn’t have it in my size.” No. You were upset.

  • Rainmaker

    I am from Turkey, which is a country that historically struggled to fit in somewhere. I mean, the people from the Western countries see us as orientalist Muslims who ride camels and turned out to settle a bit nearer to them than the Arabs or Persians but have otherwise no difference at all. the people from the eastern countries (especially other Muslim countries) see us too “westish” and unmoral, as we are more modern and secular than them.
    This is an especially huge problem for me, as I am an agnostic who despises the too religious Muslims; but I also cannot feel completely connected to the western world. The stereotypes don’t make it any easier.
    Everytime I meet with -let’s say- an Arab, I have to explain that I don’t go clubbing and have sex with another girl every night and I am just a normal guy who tends to like watching films, reading books and sports.
    Everytime I meet with a European and an American person, I have to explain that I’m not an ISIS supporter, I haven’t ridden a camel my whole life, I don’t mind drinking alcohol or having a relationship and I am a normal guy who tends to like watching films, reading books and sports.
    Like I said, it’s hard to fit in somewhere.

    • James

      I know what you mean and I’m guilty of this, I had a friend from Turkey, and admittedly, I was surprised when I found out where he was from because he was as white as I was, and I always thought Turkish people were darker like middle eastern people. He was awesome though and I learned a lot, just be yourself!

    • Leonardo Carneiro

      Man, i totally get you. People are lazy and, in their lazyness, they tend to mix things up to make it easy for then.

      You will rarely know someone here in Brazil that will be able to tell the diference between Turkey, the Emirates, Iraq, Iran etc. This is just sad.

      The same thing with asians. People tend to be very ignorant about them. They assume that japanese, korean, chinese “it’s all the same stuff”.

      I almost start a fight with a woman who asked to my gym instructor if in his travel to Turkey, he met someone from Al Qaeda. (!!!). I repeat, this is sad! =/

      • Rainmaker

        Thanks for the sympathy ^^ I also think this is all humanity’s sin, not just a particular nation’s. We tend do antagonize who we don’t know and still think in a “Us against them” way, which should be far behind us, considering the level of globalisation today. Sadly, most people don’t even bother to get to know their own cultures and the ones closest to them, let alone some nations far far away from them.

    • impfireball

      Yeah, turkey is literally the cultural middle of the world.
      Too bad 0 degrees longitude is somewhere in france (or Britain, depending). 😀

  • Thea

    I’m born and grown up in northern Italy but my parents are foreign (Dutch and Croatian). I don’t look too different from Italians phisically so I never faced the annoying “no no, but where are you REALLY from?” question that some other “mixed” friends of mine get from strangers sometimes, as if they didn’t belong anyway. But I’m used to having foreign friends since I’m little and to look at Italy from the outside. l’m not sure if some weird misconceptions are only a european thing, but here you go:

    a) Mafia is NOT a part of a normal person’s life, in the north and central Italy at least. Life goes on more or less as boringly as in any other european city. No creapy gangsters on the streets, no shootings, no piles of garbage, nothing. People from the South are frequently frustrated about how little we actually know about such an important problem, and it’s true. To us it’s more or less as misterious as to all of you;
    b) Not all italians are loud and noisey and always surrounded by an enormous family. People would sometimes start to talk about italians with me forgetting I was one myself, and when I would remind it to them, they’d be like “oh yeah… but you’re not a ‘normal’ italian, are you?”
    I am. Exactley like Homer Simpson and Jersey Shore are not the ‘normal’ American person.
    c) Italians don’t always stick together when they’re abroad cause they’re not interested in the rest of the world, think they’re better or similar things. It’s shyness. It’s difficult for us to speak with a proper english accent (if we’re at that level already – english lessons are not great and film and TV are all translated here, so it’s difficult to learn) and if we don’t feel we get made fun of, we find ourselves ridicolous ourselves. If you speak in a weird way you always feel like a kind of funny character, not like a real person. So I think that’s why they tend to stick together – not to feel ridiocouls. A French friend of mine told me she thought the same of the French abroad.

    But I understand stereotypes are normal, we all have them… but the face people sometimes makes when I explain those things is SO surprised that I thought it was worth sharing 😀

  • Jason Kay

    I’m a Gen. X’er … which means what? My brother-in-law is 4 years older, and most definitely a gen-Y’er. Look up gen X and gen Y on Wikipedia and they give a range of when you were born relative to which group you fall into. In one case I’m barely a Gen X’er others right in the middle. People in their 30s’ think I’m 30 & those in their 50’s well, think I’m older than my 41yrs.
    Age in the terms of number of suns and moons you’ve seen – what most people call age, really doesn’t matter – maturity or “wise beyond their years” really seems better, but the government can’t track that to determine if your old enough to vote, drink, or drive a car.

    So what do these age labels mean?


    Right up until someone makes them mean something because they are trying to classify a group of people, put a round peg into that square hole.

    What I’ve seen is that people are people. Treat them as such and without expectations of expected responses. People of a certain age MAY have certain experiences that they share that color their outlook on life. Talk to a 20-yr-old about 9/11 and you’ll have a vastly different experience than talking to my cousin who was forced out of his home (very close to ground zero) for months, or my friend who was one of the arm of dust-covered people walking across the bridge, trying to get home or my neighbors afraid of getting their mail due to antrax (my post office, the Trenton sorting center) was wrapped in hefty bag for a LONG time… nearly ruined my credit for not getting a month’s worth of bills… I still have a radiated piece of junk mail in the baggie…

    I deal with a lot of people in my job. I look at kids that “shouldn’t” get along for whatever reason, but are best friends.
    They have no expectations and accept people as they are.
    (See you did learn something important in Kindergarten!)

    • N00less Cluebie

      Generation labels are only useful for marketers and advertisers. And as we give up more and more of our privatizes and allow marketers to form clearer and clearer pictures of who we are those labels will cease to be meaningful…but that’s ANOTHER problem

  • Carol T

    Gee, which label to address? I think the one that gets me the most is the bad parent label…even from my son’s father. My young adult son has an eating disorder. It is a horrible issue to deal with. Because my son lived with me when it manifested itself, I have become the bad parent. What did i do to cause this? Why didn’t I see what was happening? If I was a good parent, I could have stopped out from developing. Even “friends” try to label me. It is all ignorance, but when I suggest people educate themselves, they’ve all seen the talk shows and know it is a parenting issue.

    It isn’t. My heart is already breaking as it is. I am insanely worried. I know people are talking out of ignorance, but don’t heap the bad parent label on me. If you don’t have anything supportive to say, keep it to yourself. And if if you think in a bad parent, Shut the F#&@ up.

    • Jason Sypsa

      Yes, a lot of people tend to want to point to something in the world as the cause of eating disorders, like the fashion industry or the diet industry or the entertainment industry, but all these things which can be highly influential in how some people come to view themselves, are all just symptomatic of the real underlying problem of how society tends to objectify, commodify, and sexualize people instead of valuing and developing the innate, varied, and often hidden and untapped potential in all of us.


    I’m a mormon and people often make assumptions about me because of that. I think what people get wrong about mormons is that we are a diverse group, just like any other group of millions of people. I, for example, am a democrat, I’m vocally and openly supportive of gay rights and women’s rights, and I’m scientist (a social scientist, but still). My religion is a vehicle that I use to bond with my family and my people, to find ways to get closer to God, and to find opportunities to serve my fellow sojourners on earth. It does not define me or dictate what I believe.

    And it’s not just me. In my local congregation at least a fourth of the people in attendance are, very broadly speaking, more like me than they are like the stereotype of the conservative homophobic mormon.

  • voscerote

    “When it comes to your gender, ethnicity, race, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, age, appearance…”

    “Most of us would agree that hateful people should be less hateful, …that’s not what this question is about—it’s about what open-minded, well-intentioned people could do better in the way they understand your demographic and how they interact with you about who you are.”

    I think this topic is a bit doomed (so far). Maybe wbw should have left off the “…or anything else” part. People writing in about their back-pain, or struggle with IBS is not enlightening. The ones about other nationalities have been fascinating. I hope this thread gets more of those responses!!!

    • marisheba

      Speak for yourself – I think learning about other peoples’ hidden experience is incredibly enlightening, whatever the topic. Doesn’t carry nearly the same weight or importance as with gender, race, sexual orientation etc, but it IS still important and still fascinating.

      • voscerote

        True enough. My bad.

  • d

    I am really enjoying reading all the comments and look forward to all the ones to come. This is a great topic of conversation, getting to know people and how they experience the world.
    Me? The only thing that people ever get wrong about me is everything. (LOL) You get used to it, it’s not really their fault that ‘popular knowledge’ is framed the way it is or that I came out all weird like this. And it’s not like you can introduce yourself in all your complexity to a taxi driver who is giving you a 10 minute ride, or, you know, most people that cross your path. Misconceptions can be corrected if you care to do so, but a general attitude of intolerance cannot. So, as long as people are happy to live and let live, I don’t care what they get wrong about me.

  • Shannon

    I don’t love telling people I don’t want to have children. People can’t stand what they don’t understand. One of my closest friends, who is a proud mother, still can’t comprehend it. Every time the topic comes up, she asks “Are you SURE you don’t want kids?” It’s a little offensive, as if I’m too stupid to think it through. As if I haven’t given it due consideration. I wish she could accept the fact that I’m making different life choices than her. Parenthood isn’t for everyone. Why try to talk me into something I don’t think I’d be good at – and don’t think I’d enjoy – especially when it concerns bringing a child into our crazy world?

    • Ruchi Koval

      I have seven kids. I understand well!

  • marisheba

    Okay, so let me just put out front here that I realize I am inviting the wrath of the internet here. But that’s precisely why I feel compelled to bring it up in this particular discussion.

    I am a chronically late person. Not hours late or anything, but enough that I feel consistently bad and embarrassed about it. It is one of my least favorite things about myself. But so far, despite a lot of effort, I’ve never been able to consistently change it.

    What I don’t like, though, is the assumption that chronically late people are late because we’re inconsiderate, lazy, selfish, etc–that we value our time over the time of other people, that if we just planned a little better and followed x, y or z strategy, then we could be on time all the time. I wish it were that simple. I’m sure some chronically late people are inconsiderate, but most of us put a lot of effort into trying to improve this trait, and feel a lot of guilt and anxiety about it, with only intermittent or partial success. I dread the process of leaving the house, because there’s so much panic-monster style stress associated with trying to get out of the house on time, every time.

    I get how irritating it is, I really do. No one is obligated to put up with a chronically late person if it drives them up the wall. I’m very lucky to have friends that have just learned to work around my lateness, and don’t take it personally, and I try to make up for it in other ways. But just don’t take it personally, and don’t villain us, some of us just don’t have the skills for punctuality.

    • Valerie

      Amen. “I’m sorry, I’m going to be late because of who I am as a person.”

    • SelectFromWhere

      I confess to this, too, at least fir the FIRST appointment of my day. After that, I am freakishly, obsessively punctual, but getting out of the house in the AM is always, always a delay.

    • Ludwig

      Thank you so much for this post, one with which I completely identify! The panic and stress that being chronically late evokes is so accurate.

      It annoys me so much when people hurl these you-don’t-value-anyone-else’s-time accusations at me, it’s simply NOT true. I really make every effort to be punctual but try as I may, they fall short, after which I get crucified, and later still, I become the perennial butt of jokes. The key thing to remember, internet people, is that most of us are not deliberely attempting to incite your wrath – we get just as hard on ourselves for our tardiness.

    • ScribblePouit

      I am totally ignorant about your issue. Could you please explain why this happens?

      I feel like being on time is one thing one has a good control on. Do you not know when to leave for an appointment, or do you have trouble leaving at said time because of anxiety as you mentioned? This is absolutely not to judge you, but just to try to understand your issue, which seems important enough to impact negatively your life.

      • Valerie

        For me, I usually know when I’m supposed to leave and have a good plan of what I need to do before that time arrives. Then something comes along and derails my plan, I didn’t get up from my computer soon enough and I still haven’t gotten dressed, agh, I forgot to pack lunch, crap, I needed to: write a check, refill my prescription, send an email, check this unimportant thing, grab whatever I’m supposed to bring, change my socks, go to the bathroom, zone out for 5 minutes … you get the idea. If I’m supposed to leave at 8:30, my brain waits until 8:28 and then reminds me of all of the things I have to do before I go that I was blissfully unaware of 5 minutes before.

        I can often trick my brain by setting my “Leave by” time earlier, but sometimes I see right through that and counter with “Yeah, but you don’t really need to leave until 8:40.”

        It’s an ongoing struggle, and yes there are things that I can do to help combat it, but it feels like even when I [insert thing here], something else will always pop up and I’ll inevitably spend my car ride stressed that I couldn’t just leave on time.

      • marisheba

        For me it’s a mix of ADD and anxiety. Explaining the way ADD affects things is complicated, and frankly just sounds like excuse making to a lot of people. But hopefully you’ll trust me that it makes it really difficult to switch tasks, leave certain things undone, complete other things, keep in mind everything that I have to do, and stick to routines. It’s hard to explain, but getting everything lined up to happen smoothly and in the order I want it to is just….really really hard, unless and until I have a lot of time pressure kicking my butt (aka a panic monster). And then you add in on top of that that I’m terrible at estimating time (also an ADD thing). And on top of that that if I have anxiety about the thing I’m going to it manifests as a powerful urge to bury my head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening (until the panic monster arrives).

        None of these things are insurmountable, and they’re not meant to be read as excuses, merely explanations, and an illustration that it is about struggling against real obstacles, not just being thoughtless and lazy. But it means that arriving on time consistently, requires enormous outlays of energy. I can usually get things going well for a week or two at a time when I’m not overly stressed out by other things, but then there’s the eventual backslide.

        • ScribblePouit

          Thank you marisheba and Valerie for sharing your feelings with everybody. I wish you the best to overcome your stress and anxiety.

        • Erwin

          This is exactly what I have. And the way you put it – talking about it not meant to be read as an excuse – is exactly the wall I face everytime. Having this issue just makes in incredibly hard to make choices. Often I actually get late, just because I want to do things right and try to check not to forget things or whatever, walking back into my room for twenty times, etc.

          It feels that the result usually is being late AND still forgot something. So the choice to try to make the wise choices usually endup even worse. Well, at least I see the lovely irony of it.

          I only know recently that it is AD(H)D I have and that most problems I’ve faced my whole life are caused hugely by something like that is difficult and helpful at the same time.

          Anyway, knowing it should make me able better than ever to bypass it, but I see I have a long way to go. For now I try to plan appointments in a way that suits me best, for example: not in the morning, where i’m much more likely to be late.

    • bill

      I have a good friend who is habitually late like you.

      I don’t think he thinks he’s too important or his time too valuable – I just know he sucks at time management and planning ahead.

    • R

      I used to be chronically late. I had OCD and some other issues which made it difficult to get out of the house on time. I was treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and it was the best thing I ever did. I am almost always on time now. For me being on time now is all about prioritizing. Yes, I want to finish two more e-mails or perfect my outfit but at a certain point the appointment I’m leaving for is all that matters for the moment, all else can wait. Having been late my whole life, it feels really good every time I’m on time or early. I hope you figure it out some day because I can tell you it feels great to not have that shame anymore.

    • Jonathan Wells

      I used to be chronically late, and you’re not going to like this, but I see now that I was actually kind of selfish. I don’t have it entirely licked yet, and I still get into a stressed out state and arrive late (usually for work in the morning) but I’m better than I used to be. I was just as stressed-out as you describe, just as panicked about leaving the house, but I kind of realized over time that I was ultimately placing my needs over the needs of the person waiting for me. There were a few things going on, time management being one of them, mild OCD probably another. I wanted to do a number of things that were part of my preparation routine to leave the house: make my bed, brush my teeth, shower, shit, shave, get dressed, make coffee, eat, get my stuff together I need to bring for the day, etc. I found I would get in this resentment cycle where I was mad that I didn’t have time to do the things I needed to do in order to leave the house, but that resentment would sometimes make me more resistant to leaving and take longer to decide what to wear, various other forms of avoidance of the task at hand. I find if I’m compassionate with myself and accurately estimate the amount of time I need to get somewhere and give myself the time I actually need to do all those things, it all goes much better. If it’s two hours, it’s two hours. Saying to someone, I’ll meet you in fifteen minutes, when I have to drive, park and walk to meet them is simply unrealistic. Sometimes you have to stick up for your prep time. People will say meet me in fifteen minutes and you have to say, NO, make it half an hour or forty five minutes. Okay, so this is turning into a whole thing about lateness. Also I found informing people that I’m late helped me be less late. They don’t hate me, I’m not a bad person, I CAN CALL and say I’ll be fifteen minutes late. That was like a revelation. People simply don’t like waiting, not knowing when you’ll arrive, but if you call and say you’ll be late, you show that you respect their time enough to give them the option of doing something else in the time it takes you to get to them. It takes time. As R said, CBT can be really useful, and I could probably use some of that myself.

  • gyo

    I’m a Romanian living abroad and I’m sick & tired of people thinking that Romania is a pit of poverty (at least from EU standards) and that we live like in the 18th century or something. It is simply such an ignorant point of view. We have had our troubles in history but we are resilient, well meaning and educated people in general, with a rich and old culture.

    • Anas

      As an Arab, I definitely understand what you mean.

  • Anas

    Arab here, nope not a terrorist, I do not go to school on camel either. Some people in the “first world” like to think that we are far behind when in reality we are rapidly catching up if not even being more developed.

  • Jeff

    White all American male, straight, tall, attractive enough, middle class….excluding a couple isolated instances of being refused service (in Bulgaria once of all places), I have never been discriminated against. BUT, despite my impeccable record of honesty and integrity (a life choice that has cost me sex and other things countless times), women don’t trust me – definitely not on first impression, and still not even after some time. Deception is so pervasive that it is expected, and I would argue that this reality is harmful for all of us.
    Perspective needed here please – if this is everywhere, or just the US, or just attractive white men prejudged to be womanizers, or if it’s just me.
    I am often not given a chance to be trusted, and for me that is as close as I have come to discrimination.

    • Valerie

      Maybe you just have bitchy resting face. I think this is a question for the women in your life, who would be able to tell you better than the internet could from this one paragraph. “Hey, I’ve noticed this trend, and I’d like to change it. Please be completely honest with me, do I come off as creepy or a sleazeball?”

      Also, not every woman has to talk to you or want to be your friend/lover.

      • Lauren Chambers

        “Also, not every woman has to talk to you or want to be your friend/lover.”

        Thanks for saying this. It needs to be said more often.

    • R

      To be honest, reading your post, as a woman, I found the idea that being honest and having integrity could have “cost you sex” to be a creepy attitude. Perhaps you could clarify what you mean there? Sex is never a given, never owed to anyone even if they do or say the “right” things. Either there’s chemistry on both sides or there isn’t.

      I don’t know your story, not saying this applies to you, but the way I read that phrase reminded me of something. There’s a certain kind of expectation men can sometimes have that’s very unattractive, not just a flirting- hope this turns into something expectation, but when they have a chip on their shoulder about past rejections and feel like they are owed returned attraction just by following the rules of being a nice guy, that pressure is palpable and unattractive. I just think- you don’t know me and I don’t know why you’re pissed at me or think I owe you something. Those guys have to let go of their resentment over past rejections and the idea that anyone owes the anything and try to have a good time without expectations, live in the moment.

    • Jonathan Gascho

      Trust is really interesting to me. I consider myself to be a mostly honest person (I’ve lied and cheated and done dishonest things in my life, hey! Honesty! I’m not a perfect person!) but one thing that always seemed a little off to me is how eager people are to trust me. I don’t think strangers consult a detailed report of my past moral history when asking a favour of me – I think it’s that I simply look like a trustworthy person.

      It would be great to have numbers on this (I don’t, so you’re just… going to have to trust me ;)), but I feel like I am asked to watch farrrr more bags/laptops/valuables by strangers than other people. Like a lot. It’s weird if I sit somewhere in public and someone doesn’t ask. Library, park, airport, restaurant… And I always wonder why they picked me, because I am definitely not a good person for this job. Either I’m busy and working on something (in which case you left ten seconds ago and I’ve already forgotten about my new commitment) or I have all the time in the world (and so it only takes fifteen seconds until my attention flakes out and wanders around doing brain things that brains do).

      Sometimes people come back and thank me and I’m not sure it was even the same person. Maybe that bag was stolen, haha! Sometimes people leave their stuff with me for three hours! And sometimes I need to go and I leave their things there because ‘a while’ doesn’t usually mean three hours. Sorry, stranger person.

      I guess I’m an honest looking person, but what I’m trying to get at is that this is not a reliable heuristic. There’s no such thing as honest looking, Pinocchio. But I am a definite beneficiary of appearance being used to determine morality. And I’ve done so much to earn it!

      For context, I’m Canadian, but not small-town-leave-your-doors-unlocked Canadian. Mid-sized city, definitely lock your doors. I slept through an attempted burglary of my home. I don’t want to own a gun.

      JEFF: I just started typing and went way off in a different direction. You were talking more about women. Well, you’re right in that there is some inherent dishonesty when it comes to dating. The idea is to present the ‘best of’ record of yourself to your date and this means that you’re going to leave out several of your less well received tracks. This is natural, but no one will seriously expect you to warn your date beforehand about the potential drawbacks of dating you. You are selling you; say the good things first! This does not diminish your integrity in any way. If you’re still having trouble making an impression, try tinkering with the tracks on your ‘best of.’

      Trust: There’s a really good Louis CK thing on how a woman choosing to go out with a man is the single most dangerous thing she could choose to do. And he’s right – most violence against women is inflicted by an intimate partner. You’re also probably bigger and stronger than she is. If you really want to hurt her, she can’t stop you. Acknowledge how terrifying that is for someone and do whatever little things you can to make her comfortable. You have an impeccable record of integrity, so prove it! If she barely knows you, arrange to arrive separately in a public place during the day. Seeing you is her choice – give her easy outs if it’s not going well and she’ll be more okay with giving you a shot. I’ve done online dating, tinder etc. and I always set it up like this. You can’t not do it. And – if she could easily be somewhere else, but instead chooses to stay there with you? I don’t need to tell you how good that is. (CONSENT IS SEXY!)

      It’s also possible that trust isn’t the issue. You may be attractive, but she may not be attracted to you. And that is okay. Don’t worry about that. Find someone else who is. On tinder there’s so many girls who say they want a man with a beard and a man bun. Well, that is something I will never be able to pull off. My beard grows in thin and patchy and ginger, and… man buns… So I apologize to this segment of tinder women – I am just not going to be able to satisfy you. I’d rather match with someone who wants me for who I am. Left.

      Thing is, women have super diverse tastes in things about men they find attractive. That’s a huge advantage! But it also means that even if you’re way hot on tinder 10/10 would bang again, you’re not going to bat a thousand. You’re crazy lucky to match 10% of your swipes. So don’t worry about it! Chase, but only chase the ones who want you for you. And at that point can you even call it a chase?

      (Also, sex is a fun, free thing that people can choose to do together. There is no cost, unless you’ve entered a business arrangement with a professional. So you don’t need to worry about how much sex your integrity costs you – or you’re buying at the wrong place)

  • Jonathan

    I have a mental illness and I think the main problem I have experienced is that people grossly underestimate how much you can achieve. It was so difficult to do with mental illness, but I have a B.A. from one of the top universities in my field. #humblebrag Doctors mouths drop open when I say that because they often only see me at my worst.

    Almost opposite this problem is the fact that most other people only see me at my best. Even family members and close friends can see nothing past my carefully crafted normal exterior. They don’t understand when I need to take mental health days.. or that seemingly simple things like driving or remembering certain things can be almost impossible for me.

    I guess you could say I hate the stereotypes of people with mental illness only being in psych wards. We are literally in every profession… from stay at home Moms or Dads to doctors or retail clerks. Life is different for us but often our illness challenges us to be amazing and relish every “good day”.

    • Jason Sypsa

      I agree with you that this topic needs to be freed from the taboo shackles it wears in the forgotten communal basement it suffers in. Yes, the best foot forward persona is both a blessing and a curse. But most people only dare to know you from a shallow perspective and any cracks to this exterior are either ignored or explained away as not the real you. More of us who tackle these mental health problems need to step up and vent honestly in order to demystify it for the rest and encourage others to share their own individual experiences, failures and triumphs.

      • Jonathan

        Thanks for the reply Jason

        I think the tide has been turning on mental illness, at least in my country. People don’t seem to be as bothered by it as they used to be when I tell them. Years ago people would stop, their eyes would widen and they’d be like “So you’re crazy?”

        Now the most common reply is “Yeah, my (Insert family member or friend) has that too.”

        It might just be the pocket of culture I live in though, I have no idea what it’s like for other countries.

        • James

          If you don’t feel comfortable sharing I understand, but I’m curious as to what mental illness you live with?

          • Jonathan

            I have Bi Polar, ADHD and Anxiety.

            • James

              keep up the fight!

    • Brynn

      Spot on!

      • jonathan

        Thank you! 🙂

    • Thank you SO much for this post, Jonathan!!!

      • jonathan

        No problem! I’m happy you liked it! 😀

  • Jo Wilson

    As a woman just about to turn 30, been with my partner for about 8 years, people ALWAYS think its appropriate to ask ‘when are you getting married?’ ‘when are you having children?’ … i cant say that i will never want those things but people seem to measure the happiness of a couple based on the number of ‘milestones’ that society believe i should have achieved by now. Other women i have spoken to feel the same, it even comes to a point where if you go away as a couple around any remotely significant date, people expect you to come back with an engagement ring… its just plain weird! !

    • Laura

      So true! Me and my partner have been together 9 and a half years and people are convinced we’ll get married, sometime soon, they have absolutely no understanding of the fact that neither of us think it necessary, why would I go through a wedding when my love won’t grow any bigger, I won’t feel any more of an attachment than before and most importantly I HATE BEING THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION – I don’t want that stuff, why would I bother? But, Jo, the saving grace is soon all your friends will be getting married and a lot of them will be spending all of their savings on dresses they’ll never wear again and bouquets of flowers and a giant one day party, and you know what, some of them will look at you, being all happy with your non-married existence and they’ll be deeply jealous that you don’t feel the need to conform, and you’re just happy… being.

    • Iris Stephen

      I’m in the same age bracket and getting married, but I so second you on both of those, but especially the children. I can’t stand the fact that youtube ads are A HUNDRED PERCENT about babies, pregnancy tests or fertility tests (with the odd fashion add) ever since I hit my thirties. NOT INTERESTED, people. Adblock is the only thing that helped.

  • baberjaved

    I’m from Pakistan and most of the world thinks we’re a backward country where lots of men in beards just keep killing and shooting each other religion however that is just the preception media has created and is far from the reality.

    • Thanks a lot for this post! There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there in the world.

  • Elva

    I am an introvert and this has been a problem for me all my life.
    It’s not just that some people don’t want to understand that I need some time alone, that I don’t need and want to go to parties every weekend. It has made me feel like I am not “normal” (I am aware of how stupid and cliche that sounds) and it got me to a point where I started convincing myself that I actually was extroverted and behaved that way.
    It’s all these sentences that I hear since I can think. My mom, feeling the need to explain to others that I liked playing alone and that she wasn’t a bad mother, my teachers calling my antisocial, lazy, sometimes dumb, because I wouldn’t participate in class. I know now that all of them just wanted the best for me when all they did was actually making it worse.

    In the end, I have to say I am grateful for all of it. It has made me a stronger person. I would have never been looked at strangely otherwise, as a young, female, white German, even typically blond 🙂

    • John
      • Katz

        I’m currently reading this book right now, I highly recommend it. Every time I read more of it I learn something new that I’ve been able to apply in real life, where I have to pretend to be a social butterfly at times. For me, the majority of my issues comes from being very open one moment, then the rest of the time just quiet and shutting people away. One coworker called me awkward; I think that’s not the correct term to describe me. 95% of the conversations I have with people outside of my family are superficial; not many people really know who I am. I’ve just recently quit using drugs since July 2014, which wasn’t too long ago. No one knows this about me besides my close family. That’s why I’m such a loner these days. Before I quit using drugs, I would party practically every night. Many ‘friends’ that were doing the same thing. Till I realized I wanted something else out of life, so I had to cut those people off which was a slow, painful process. Sometimes I wish I could tell people this so they could understand me a little better. Sometimes I wish I could write my music in the privacy of my home for the rest of my life without having to worry about people openly judging me. But, the world we’re living in, I just have to sacrifice some of my comfort to get what I want.

        Check out this Ted Talk by Susan Cain, the author of Quiet.

      • Iris Stephen

        I was about to say that! I gave it to my teacher boyfriend, and it made him change the way he thought about half his class. He’s out there spreading the good word.

  • Smitty Werbenjagermenjensen

    I hate it when people feel overflowing pity for me when I tell them that I have a single mom. No, our family isnt broken, its as normal as any nuclear family and are as happy as one. People seem to be so uncomfortable when they talk to a person with a single parent about their parents or say fathers day or mothers day, Why? Its not like single families are that uncommon. Then people feel the need to treat me like i’m a disowned child and ask if I need help on whatever I do. My mom’s peers who are men constantly annoy me by thinking I need a father figure which leads to them concerning and helping way to much. No, my family do not run on welfare. No, im not suffering. Yes, I get as much as love and attention as any person. I just hate people feeling too much pity for me. Its like they are looking down on me like im not normal and live in some corrupt house, And it especially doesn’t help when a person I hardly even know says “Oh my god, I feel so sorry for you”.

  • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

    Wow. What a great topic, and one I have so much opinion about.

    I have a multitude of labels that, while accurate descriptions of me, place me into a very small percentage of the population. I’ll try and address them one at a time.

    Statistician – I am often either disregarded as a real profession, because of the old addage, “Lies, damn lies, and statistics”. On the other end of the spectrum, people often assume i can accurately predict college basketball down to the final scores. What it means is that I work with numbers to make generalized predictions, or check the accuracy of something very specific.

    Liberal – Leftist, communist, hippie, socialist. I am mostly misconstrued on this by conservatives, who assume I am an anarchist or I hate America. Honestly, I just want the world to be better, and I adhere to the philosophies of the Left because I believe they will make things better for everyone.

    Transgender – This is a rough one for me. A lot of people assume that, because I am changing my gender, I’m out to trick them, or ‘make them gay’, or I have some kind of agenda where I want everyone to be like me, or that I’m a man- or woman-hater, or that I’m obviously overly promiscuous. The last one is especially prevalent, assuming I’m a sex fiend who is changing my entire life and gender so I can enter the women’s restroom and ogle and masturbate in the stall. It’s a horrible stereotype perpetuated by people’s worst fears (see Wizard’s First Rule, below). I am just a woman who was born into the wrong body, and I’m finally taking steps to change that, and be myself after 44 years.

    Lesbian – It’s weird, but a lot of guys hit on me, and when I kindly inform them that I’m lesbian, they often (not always) say something like, “Well, that doesn’t bother me! I like lesbians.” and continue to hit on me as if it is a bonus to their ego or something. Couple this with being transgender, i receive a lot of people who ask me about my private sexual endeavors, as if it is OK since I told them who I am. No, I don’t want to talk about that. I will answer questions if presented politely, but the rudeness and assumptions. All it truly means is that I am a woman who is attracted primarily to other women. That’s all.

    Woman – I do not get a lot of misconceptions for being a woman, aside from the assumption that I can’t lift a box or something (I work at Staples, and lifting a printer is usually not that big of a deal).

    Tall – I am 6’2″. People assume the world is awesome at this height, because I can reach things on the top shelf, and never need a stool. Honestly, the world is built for people of average height, around 5’9″ or so, and I am constantly towering over people, especially other women, and have to squeeze into cars, can’t find nice shoes, wearing heels makes me feel like Gojira, etc. Being tall is not all it’s cracked up to be.

    Atheist – I do not adhere to any belief in a god or supreme being. The universe is too vast for that kind of thinking, and I find great joy in knowing that I am a very tiny, insignificant, temporary being in an incomprehensibly vast universe, yet I am made from the materials strewn forth by exploding stars, and this a piece that fits nicely into the cosmic fabric (or something equally poetic – see Pale Blue Dot https://youtu.be/wupToqz1e2g ). I do not worship Satan, I do not eat babies, I am not hopeless and without meaning, I am a good person. I just don’t feel the need to have a god tell me so.

    Polyamorous – This one is confusing to many. It simply means that I can and do love more than one partner at a time (poly = many, amor = love). It does not mean I am promiscuous, disloyal, cheating, dishonest, etc., as many people assume. It means that I choose more than one person to love at a time, my personal limit is about three, I believe, and I love and treasure those people strongly, stably, and fully. They also know about each other, because honesty and communication are of paramount importance.

    Wizard’s First Rule – This is the title of a book by Terry Goodkind that I found to be a very good read. In it, Zed the wizard explains Wizard’s First Rule, a rule wizard’s follow in lieu of performing taxing magical spells. Many of the needs we have in life do not require magic. The rule states, “People are stupid, in that they will believe something if they A) wish it to be true, or B) fear it to be true. The actual truth is irrelevant.” (I paraphrased there, it’s been a while). This rule can explain much of human nature. People fear plane crashes and shark attacks, so they don’t fly or swim in the ocean, even if the odds of these things occurring is statistically (see Statistician, above) very, very small. Driving a car is much more dangerous, yet there is no fear involved. On the other side, people want to believe they will win the lottery, so they play, even if the odds of winning are less than getting bitten by a shark in Kansas. (I always tell people that I win a dollar every time I don’t play.) Wizard’s First Rule is the reason there are so many misconceptions in the world, though. It rules countries, dominates cultures, and wins elections. Learning how not to be influenced by your fears and desires would solve much.

    • Adam

      Polyamory is an interesting concept. [Almost] Everyone has more than one friend. Why not more than one partner? Society is inconsistent with any social value, but I think rules about relationships can be especially arbitrary sometimes.

      Let’s say you start a relationship with someone. You get married. Unfortunately, they pass away. A few years later, you have another relationship with someone else.

      You loved both people, right? Even though you loved one, you could still love the other. So, if instead of meeting that second person after your first partner died, what if you met them during your first relationship? It’s the same person as in the other hypothetical situation – surely you would still be able to love them? And if you love two people, why can’t you have relationships with both of them simultaneously [as long as both are fine with this]?

      • DeeDee Massey

        I suspect that most people find it challenging enough to even find much less maintain a truly satisfying one-on-one relationship, and therefore lack the bandwidth and the ego required of poly relationships. I like to be more granular with my terms when discussing these topics. Most people, of whatever orientation, seem at ease with engaging in, what I distinguish as, poly-sexuality (physical relations with more than one person simultaneously – whether known or unbeknownst to the other partner) but not poly-amory (physical/emotional/intellectual attachments with more than one person). It’s easy for one to have superficial relationships, but geez it could get expensive on Valentine’s Day if one needed to express undying love to several partners and make each one feel “special”. 🙂 Whether society should allow poly-gamy is a whole other dimension.

  • PeteM

    This is an awesome topic and I know just what I want to talk about: big families. Society is horrendously awkward when it comes talking about or relating to big families. I’m 1 of 6 kids and my parents also came from families that were actually larger. Many people I meet seem to assume that normal people don’t have big families and that there’s no real reason to have more than 2. So when people find out I’m from a bigger family, I get a lot of awkward conversations and questions. The following are items I wish more people understood about big families.

    1. Most of the times, big families are big by choice. This is a huge thing that some people just don’t get. My parents actually adopted kid #5 because they wanted more kids and my parents were having difficulty getting pregnant. Just because a family has more than 3 kids does not mean they are reckless and don’t know how to use birth control. On that note…

    2. You don’t know how many times I’ve been awkwardly asked if my parents knew how to use birth control or could stop having sex. Even as a child, I got asked this. Yes, my parents know about birth control. My parents were both college educated people (my father also completed grad school) with careers and not ignorant nymphomaniacal rednecks. I have never asked anyone about their parent’s family planning and certainly never criticized anyone for their choice, yet it always stuns me that people will ask such insulting questions about my parents. Just a word of advice, if you meet someone from a large family, please do not insinuate that their brothers and sisters are products of their parents’ irresponsible behavior. Its not a good first impression to make.

    3. There are no regrets from growing up with tons of brothers and sisters. Sure, you share parents, rooms, clothes, bikes, time and nearly everything else in between. Yes, sometimes you get sick of your siblings. (Doesn’t everyone once in a while?) A lot of people think that this creates a lot of lasting resentment between me and my siblings and me and my parents. Perhaps this happens in some families, but I have yet to see this in my experience. From what I’ve seen and experienced, children in large families still grow up very normal (and boring) to most other people. You just have more interesting stories from your youth. Honestly, I loved growing up in the family that I did. I don’t regret a thing.

    3. Religion is always a suspect with big families and everyone always assumes you are part of some religious cult that demands that you have as many children as possible to turn them into cult-lings. Conspiracy theories abound because normal people don’t have big families so there must be something more sinister at work here. Going back to number 1 again, sometimes, people just want lots of kids because they love kids. The truth is sadly much more boring than what many think.

    What I wish people realized is that the decision to have kids and how many to have is often a matter of preference, just as any other lifestyle choice is. One choice is not right and another is not wrong. As long as you have loving parents and family, it doesn’t matter if your family is large or small. Never presume with large families. It will only make you ignorant. Instead, just say, “I bet you have some fun stories from your childhood.” That will usually prompt a smile.

    • Bob

      Coming from a big family this is spot on! In regards to #3 you are always assumed to be either Catholic or Mormon (which is true in my case but it is also a stereotype).

    • Thanks a lot for this post. Very enlightening! 🙂 My imemdiate family isn’t very large (I’m an only child), but my grandmother was 1 of like 9! She can probably relate with you on a lot that was mentioned.

  • Alex Shannon

    I’m a biker.

    No, no, not THAT kind of biker; goateed, dressed in all leather, listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd (not entirely immune to that last part).

    I’m a bicyclist. I wear obnoxiously-visible shades of neon under the pretense that it’s a safety measure (really, I just think it looks cool). Oh, and I eat way healthier than you do, and have a degree of moral superiority. You drive a Prius, eh? Gas guzzling bastard.

    Conceptually, everybody loves bikers – they’re environmentally friendly, they’re saving us money on healthcare (assuming nobody runs them over), and it’s just a hip thing to do.

    But on the road, it’s a different story. While driving, my blood pressure used to spike when I’d get stuck behind a biker – Why can’t they just go on the sidewalk? Or why did they take this route, when it’s obviously NOT bike friendly? They’re just slow enough to really screw you up, and just fast enough that you can’t pass them before the car in the other lane would slam into your windshield.

    But then I had a revelation – IT’S NOT THE BIKERS I SHOULD BE MAD AT, IT’S THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT! This was it. Instead of fruitlessly screaming at the biker lackadaisically rolling along in front of my car, I began fruitlessly screaming at the local government.

    “Why are we not building any more bike lanes? These people have every right to be on the road, and yet there’s no opportunity! I don’t want to live my life behind a wheel! I want to live it with my center of gravity hovering slightly above two wheels! Justice for bikers!”

    Pretty soon this fruitless screaming turned into stubborn rage, and I’ve now ditched my car altogether (thanks in part due to the limited bike lanes in my city, the fact that I’m still years away from wanting a family/kids, and the fact that there’s decent public transport if I need to go anywhere really far away).

    Every minute I’m on a bike is a protest – like the signers of the Declaration, Gandhi on his salt march, or MLK preaching across the crowds in Washington, my morning commute to work is a rebellion against the establishment – an attempt to gain the right, not just for bike enthusiasts – but for everyone, to get around by a means other than a car, truck, or minivan (especially the latter).

    I’m not entirely sure what societies general conception of bikers is, and I’m afraid I just went on a self-aggrandized rant that may partially inspire one reader to ride his/her bike somewhere if it’s not rainy outside. But I do think that transferring your anger from the slow biker in front of your car to the system that does not permit bikes their own lanes it worthy enough to take note of.

    • Valerie

      See, my complaint isn’t that bikers are on the road, it’s that bikers in my city want to be on the road with equal rights as cars, but don’t want to follow the road rules that cars have to follow. This makes them unpredictable and dangerous, and I seriously wish my city would get on building a more comprehensive bike lane system already.

      • Jonathan Wells

        I am both a cyclist and a driver, and often have to mentally switch gears (get it?) between the two modes. Some of the rules of the road are more logical for cars than bikes. Cars are machines that are always running. You brake them to stop. As soon as you release the brake, the engine propels the vehicle forward again. None of this takes any effort on the operator’s part. Bikes, on the other hand, are totally dependant on the effort put in by the operator. On my bike, I will run a stop sign if I don’t see anyone coming simply because it’s a hell of a lot harder to come to a complete stop, look both ways and then start again. Energy conservation while exercising is a completely natural thing to do. Then sometimes at night, when I’m driving home, I come to a red light and I am SO tempted to just carefully drive through it because no is around and then this voice in my head reminds me that I could get a ticket if I do, even though no one’s around, which doesn’t make sense. When driving you internalize the rules of the road and it’s hard to, for example, cross an intersection on a red light, even if no one is coming from either direction or watching. One of the benefits of riding a bike is being able to go on the sidewalk and avoid traffic jams. Cyclists have the best of both the worlds of pedestrians and drivers in some ways, but up until recently in my city haven’t had dedicated paths for their use. I’ve noticed that as Vancouver has added more and more bike lanes, I feel less antagonistic towards drivers. My new peeve is pedestrians who don’t look out for bikes. Someone who wouldn’t walk out in front of a moving car seems perfectly happy to march out in front of two-hundred pound man on a metal bike speeding towards them at 30 km/h. I’m not sure if any system of “road rules” where different modes of transportation share the same routes will ever be able to perfectly accommodate the strengths and limitations of all modes.

        • Erik

          I can stand behind the “Idaho Stop”.

    • Chicago certainly has its problems; but when it comes to accommodating bicyclers, it’s tops. I truly think other cities should look to it as a good picture of what bicycling in an American city could be. (Though, I’m sure many west coast cities…like Portland, for one, are probably even better.)

  • Chris Wizzard Williams

    Well I’m a black male. Take a wild guess at my complaint lol. But it seems like the first impression people get from people of my race is malevolence. Even other black people. Like they are uneducated and always looking to cause trouble. It’s bad because I think like 35% of the time it’s true. But me personally, I try to be someone who sees the best in everything, always play by the rules, do everything by the book. But stereotypes make that a hard wall to break through. Especially on the dating scene, where someone might be like “ooh you’re dating a black guy? Risky!” Like what is that?

  • Sooty Mangabey

    Ethinicity/Nationality: Third culture kid. Born in the US but grew up (for the most part) in Singapore. Attended college in the Midwest and was amused and eventually annoyed that anyone there would be surprised that I spoke “good English” or that Singapore was part of China, Japan or Taiwan!

    Religion: People look at me as if I just grew a third eye whenever I answer the question of my faith: atheist.

    Age: I look a lot younger than I am and this has impacted the way clients view me and how I’ve had to approach them in my line of work (veterinary medicine). I’ve had to act a lot more confident than I suspect I would have to otherwise to convince pet owners that they can trust me.

  • alanna

    It has been so interesting reading all your comments and learning where I may be going wrong from time to time.
    For me, I am a recovering alcoholic. People don’t really know much about alcoholism and from what I have experienced they don’t want to learn. It may just be an awkward topic to talk about and they may think I don’t want to answer questions but I really don’t mind. Common misconceptions seem to be
    1. Not every alcoholic is a ‘park bench drinker’ who has lost their homes, jobs and families. I have a good job, a lovely home and a loving family who are happy to see me getting better. Sure, maybe if I carried on drinking I would one day be the sad lonely person drinking on the streets but more often than not it is not the case. I have been lucky enough in my recovery to meet people from all walks of life, teachers, doctors, business men and women, professional sports people who are in recovery.
    2. It is not a choice to drink. The choice went long ago and is now a need. People seem to think if only I had stronger will power I could of stopped a long time before I did. But when your body and mind is telling you it is something you need, can’t live without. You have to be pretty desperate to want to stop.
    3. Not all alcohlics drink all day every day. For me, this is what kept me thinking I couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic. I drank heavily nearly every night but because I didn’t drink in the day I thought I was just a heavy drinker, until I tried to cut down or stop and found it impossible.
    4. I will never be able to drink normally. The friends of mine I have told I am an alcoholic, a huge thing for me to admit to other people because a) it took me so long to be able to admit even to myself and b) I never know what their reaction will be, have all said having a break from drinking is a great thing and after a while I will be able to drink normally again. This sadly is not the case. Once that line has been crossed there is no going back. I will never be able to drink socially, a fact I have now come to terms with and actually feel quite relieved I never have to drink again. For you it’s fun and helps you relax, for me it was a hell I felt I could not escape.
    Im not happy to be an alcoholic but I am happy to be a recovering alcoholic. I have been given a second and better chance of life. I am now able to learn about myself and work and build on myself to make me a better person for everyone in my life.

  • Danilo Faria

    A lot of people think that Brazilians speak Spanish, when we speak Portuguese. That doesn’t bother me that much though, just saying…

    • PinkTheBush

      Or when they think people in Mexico speak Mexican. XD

  • Maximilian Blacher

    German white tall engineer here. No discrimination to complain about. Every stereotype i heard so far, I fulfill eagerly.

  • mace

    Hullo, agender person here! The main thing the world doesn’t get about nonbinary people is that we even exist. There have been so many ways of viewing gender across cultures and throughout history, but somehow we’re still stuck on the mainly western idea of women-stay-home-take-care-of-kids, men-do-work. (I say mainly because a lot of influential cultures have misogyny as a focus, but I live in America where western ideals prevail, so I’m simply speaking from experience.) Basically, if someone says they don’t identify as male or female, at least try to understand it, don’t just write them off as confused or attention seeking. I suppressed knowing that I didn’t fit the binary for a long, long time because I thought the idea of a spectrum was absurd, so I pursued overtly feminine interests to express myself without knowing that I was really was just expressing what society wanted me to be. (People don’t exaggerate when they say fashion magazines f–k young girls up.) I’m finally learning to not worry about how others perceive me, and that masculine is not the default, i.e., looking androgynous should not be limited to looking like a girly boy. This is actually pretty hard for me to post due to acceptance still being hard to come by. Sure, it’s advancing exponentially compared to other forms of acceptance, and sure Facebook adding genders beyond male and female have helped a TON, but whenever I try to express pride it just feels like no one’s listening. I think that’s all anyone needs, to hear and be heard. Thanks for reading this long nonsense, and I hope you understand people like me at least a little bit more.

    • Glowing Monkey

      I think this sort of view will become more prevalent as more parents allow their children the freedom to just be themselves, play with dolls or household toys as well as with cars, robots, construction / ‘engineering’ toys / games etc, wear whatever colours they like, climb trees, take ballet lessons whatever, and not let anyone tell them what they can or cannot do as a boy or a girl. You’re not alone, I know people in my generation as well as much much younger who simply refuse to let themselves be labeled or pressured by any kind of gender expectations. I think anyone would like to be defined by much more than our genitals, what we think / how we feel about them and what we do with them. There’s simply more important and relevant things about people than gender identity.

  • Thanks once again for being a fantastic curator of thoughtful discussion! I look forward to these every Sunday evening! This topic is very important for everyone! Stereotyping and hateful prejudging is something that is harmful in our society. I like that this discussion focuses on the open minded people who don’t fall under that category, but still may make unintentional mistakes when dealing with people who are different from them.

    There’s a lot of things I could potentially discuss here, but something that has been a constant bother to me in my early adult life is the reaction I get from friends and family when I tell them that I’m a conservative leaning person when it comes to politics. I happen to be black, and I happen to be gay which usually leads people to have an aghast reaction to my revelation. It’s almost like “coming out” all over again. Imagine that!

    My point is simply to have open communication and dialogue with people who might be different from you. That initial reaction to someone opening up to you can sometimes stifle effective exchange of knowledge, and in my case, this has happened plenty of times.

  • PinkTheBush

    Uff, big topic this time. I think there’s definitely some disparity in how minority groups respond to well-meaning curiosity. Your friend, for example, seems to be happy to respond as long as they’re direct. Personally, I’d prefer some boundaries. As a gay man, I’m often audience to some pretty frustrating third-degrees by straight people who, after nailing one too many shots of Fireball, want to, like, *prove* their open-mindedness by diving in and asking questions.

    The last great awkward moment I think was when I heard a lesbian (whose style leaned on the masculine side) asked why, if she was supposed to be attracted to women, would she be interested in someone who looked like a man. I mean… there was no nefarious purpose behind the question or anything, but she was still taken aback, and so was I. I also love when I’m asked who plays what role in the relationship, and whether certain sexual engagements are painful. Or another favorite — “But man, vagina is so great! How could you not love it?” Get out of here before someone drops a house on you.

    Again, I think it falls to a matter of boundaries. Ask yourself whether you’d ask that same question to someone who *didn’t* belong to a minority group. Would you interrupt your middle-aged Catholic neighbor in the middle of her rose pruning to ask her whether she was a top or a bottom?

    • Adam

      I have also noticed the inconsistency about curiosity with some of the comments here, but I think a lot of it depends on boundaries. Person who is [minority X] might be happy to discuss what [X] is all about to an open-minded person who doesn’t understand, but when someone asks [rude question Y], that’s just inconsiderate.

      When it comes to sexuality, I feel comfortable asking what a certain person’s label means (although I hope I know the basics when it comes to pansexuality, polyamory etc.) — and I’ve asked one of my close non-heterosexual friends stuff like “do you like men and women equally, or one gender more than the other?” — but when it comes to stuff like “how can lesbians use dildos?” or “which one of you is the man in the relationship?” (what is that even supposed to mean?), it’s probably too far.

      I think a good rule of thumb is: if you’re sober, and you are reasonably certain that your question won’t offend whoever you’re talking to, go ahead and ask it.

  • As a straight, American white male with a protestant upbringing, I feel downright silly even responding to this very good conversation starter. Stereotypically, it’s my demographic that is seen as the stereotyping demographic (even this sentence sounds silly).

    Ultimately, though, I believe people generally treat those that don’t fit in with their view of society (people who aren’t like those in their circle of friends, family and acquaintances, those who don’t have similar backgrounds, interests, physical appearances, intelligence levels — whether those levels be higher or lower, tastes, religions, cultural backgrounds — or foregrounds, motivations, etc.) with trepidation, skepticism, formulaic conventions (possibly fear or anxiety), etc. while maintaining a superior attitude. As is often said about people, people fear the unknown…which leads to conclusion-jumping, pigeon-holing, over-generalizing and stereotyping. Most people feel uncomfortable not knowing…so they grab onto anything they can to feel as though they know, so that they may feel at ease, whether it be red people and green people in question…or simply Hatfields and McCoys.

    In Grand Budapest Hotel, Willem Dafoe’s character says, “I don’t trust the butler. He’s too honest.” Though this might sound slightly off-topic, I think it illustrates the point very well (and somewhat comically). Among dishonest people, honest people aren’t trusted (as they may not be dishonest enough to serve the interests of the society judging); whereas among honest people, dishonest people aren’t trusted (as in turn, dishonest people may not be honest enough to serve the interests of the society judging).

    More concretely, the low-born, straight, white American male, born on the wrong side of the tracks, whose education might be more the product of autodidacticism than a prestigious university, regardless of manners, knowledge, competence, intelligence, etc…might find it harder to fit in among Fortune 500 executives than a woman, LGBT community member or a cultural minority member, born into a wealthy family, whose education is more the product of ivy league schools than autodidacticism, regardless of manners, knowledge, competence, intelligence, etc.

    Ultimately, among people, a lot of our social behaviors are the product of conditioning (rather than mindfulness) and our value judgements can often be based on superficialities (rather than the product of rational inquiry), possibly because people either lack the time to be responsibly critical…or possibly because jumping to conclusions could be seen as the path of least resistance (or least effort).

    Honestly, I have no idea what I’m talking about…except that simple answers to complicated questions are only simple if you’ve already done an awful lot of homework, previously.

    • James

      I’ve only really encountered this online, but people who stereotype white men are just as guilty as stereotyping other demographics. Trying to make people feel guilty for all the privilege they expect them to have. No one chose to be born into the life they were, and shouldn’t be made to feel bad or guilty about their lot in life. Everyone should work to improve on the past and move forward. Hope that makes sense

  • Liz

    That all Southerners are closed-minded, uneducated and racist.

    • SelectFromWhere

      I wrote a similar debunking below, Liz. Many stereotypes are shattering but the ones against Southerners seem to persist among the worst–often by the very people who consider themselves “open-minded” about every single other stereotype.

  • Mr. Anonymous

    I’m not to social and sit alone a lot, and well intentioned people come over to me and create idle conversation that neither of us enjoy and that we both know is designed to make me feel better. Really I’m content to be alone and this sort of thing just makes me feel worse.

    • DarkEnergy

      Genuinely curious: Do you not enjoy engaging in conversations with other people? Or, is it that when “well intentioned people come over and create idle conversation”, those conversations tend to be boring and unenjoyable?
      I ask because it seems that the former is not the case, since you are here engaging in an online dialogue.

      • bionelly

        Okay, I realize this is super-old, and I’m not the person you were originally asking, but as a social-anxiety-prone introvert who frequently experiences the same situation and yet tends to be active on the internet, I can at least give you a few reasons that apply to me:

        * Unexpected conversations I don’t choose to initiate tend to cause me more anxiety.
        * So do conversations that aren’t “about” something; here, we have a well-defined topic, but in those sorts of situations, there is pressure to find something to talk about to keep the conversation going.
        * Online conversations offer more control; I can choose when I reply and go over my response to make sure I don’t misspeak. In face-to-face conversations, I have to come up with something immediately or face an awkward silence.
        * There’s less pressure to seem “normal” on the internet, both because the culture on the sites I tend to frequent is more accepting than my real-life community, and because the relative anonymity means that even if I come off as irredeemably weird, it’s not tied to the “real me” (this is one of the reasons I’m not nearly as comfortable on Facebook as I am on sites where people only know me by a username.)
        * When I choose to sit alone, it may be because I have already had all the social interaction I can handle and I need a bit of “alone time” to cool down (believe me, being prone to social anxiety and working in retail is. not. fun.) At times like that I sometimes have to ask even family members to leave me alone because I simply can’t handle talking to anyone right then. Having a complete stranger come up and try to make conversation when I’m already feeling overwhelmed, combined with all the factors above, is a recipe for disaster.

        • DarkEnergy

          Thanks for the response. You make a lot of good points there. I think I understand. It reminds me of this post: https://waitbutwhy.com/2014/01/the-great-perils-of-social-interaction.html

          • bionelly

            Yep, pretty much. Basically take that post, and apply the uncertainty and awkwardness of the situations highlighted there to most face-to-face interactions. (It probably doesn’t help that due to my job I have a LOT of acquaintances, which seem to be the most awkward category.) Compared to that, the distance and control I get with online interactions (along with the ability to just leave if things get too overwhelming, I forgot that before but it’s another biggie) is downright soothing.

  • Brigitte

    As currently unemployed, I’ve got a lot of people asking me why is that, since I’ve a degree, experience etc, as if they’re paying for my bills. What really annoys me is that we’re often defined by what we do, how much we earn, what car we have and so on. That depresses me more than not to have a job (which is not cool, BTW, cos bills keep pilling up).

    • SelectFromWhere

      You’re absolutely right, Brigitte, and I have to say men get it even more than women, since men are brought up to define ourselves by our jobs, money, and status (women are, or at least used to be, brought up to define themselves by their marriage and children. Not sure which is worse).

  • Colleen DeVries Valentine

    Two things:

    1. I’m a 55-year-old white woman, and I am fat. Not pleasingly plump. Not a bit overweight, but fat. And I don’t believe “fat” is a pejorative word. I swim laps three times a week, a mile each time. I had my annual check-up a couple of months ago, and the nurse who called with my cholesterol results asked if I exercised regularly. How did she know? My ‘good’ cholesterol number was very good.

    I also work in a high school where I walk the halls between classes, dodging students and traveling up and down flights of stairs. When I am in a building where the elevator and stairs are adjacent (such as a parking garage), I’ll often take the stairs up one flight or down two ~ and I’ll get there before those who took the elevator.

    Despite what some may think (or say aloud), fat people are not necessarily lazy people. Maybe some are, but then, so are some slender people.

    2. My son died as a direct result of his service in the United States Navy. There are two assumptions about this that bug me: First, that if he died serving in the military, he must have been serving in a war zone. Well, the truth is….no. He was on a ship in a port on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. Many of his shipmates believe he saved their lives by his actions. So, no, he was not where people were fighting, but he did die as a result of his service.

    Second, that as a parent who has lost a child (my son died just before his 21st birthday), people think I will be sad and mournful for the rest of my life. Well ~~no. When people chat about their now-grown children’s childhood antics, I join in. Does it make me sad? Not really. I enjoy remembering those happy, frustrating, busy, boring, you-name-an-adjective days. And no, I’m not going to burst out in tears if you mention his name. In fact, I would love it if you shared a memory about him.

    So, those are the two big ones: being fat, and being a parent whose child has died.

    • DarkEnergy

      Thanks for sharing. I would’ve never considered these things if you hadn’t shared your perspective.

    • marisheba

      Yes, death and grief are hard ones. My dad died when I was thirteen, and it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time reading about, and it’s STILL an area I sometimes stumble. Partly because everyone is so different. But overall I REALLY wish it was a less taboo subject.

      A few years ago, a friend’s mother died. My friend asked his best friend to tell everyone else that he didn’t want to be treated differently, he didn’t want space or kid gloves, he wanted to keep enjoying his life and friends even while he grieved. I thought it was brilliant to actually put out the word like that, so people didn’t have to guess. Doesn’t help with new acquaintances though.

  • D.Taylor

    I really hate the angry Black woman stereotype. I am a 39 Black woman and no matter my unique personality or outlook, I get that. If I vocalize a strong opinion, it’s attitude. The media has these horrible caricatures of Black women that are either extreme. I’m not a Basketball Wife or Olivia Pope but for people who have no interaction with Black women, that’s what they think.

    I also wish people would stop assuming that Black people are not “allowed” to enjoy things that are not stereotypically “Black”. I don’t need the Black community’s permission or the rest of the non-Black population’s acceptance to enjoy the Foo Fighters, wine bars, classic literature or the Big Bang Theory while I jam to Jill Scott and eat my Mom’s amazing fried chicken while I binge-watch A Different World on Netflix. (I promise no fingers snapped, eyes rolled, or necks rolled as I typed that !)

    • Ludwig

      Most of my life, I’ve been brandished with the label ‘coconut’ – black on the outside, white on the inside – a term I find extremely offensive and hurtful. Oh, so just because I have varied interests and have a reduced predilection for rap, I’m deemed no longer black enough, or a ‘betrayer’ of my roots?? How do people not realise how insensitive and asisine such remarks are, comments these individuals will swear were made only ‘in jest?
      I just wish that people could acknowledge that people from all races are multi-faceted individuals. We should not be painted with broad strokes; ‘harmless stereotyping’ which has been massively propagated by the media, is a reductive measure that strips us all of our uniqueness and identity. It’s unreal how we live in 2015 and I still get bemused looks and raised eyebrows for taking my novel out of my bag to read on the train.

      • James

        My gf is mixed and she hates when people say things like this too, and they assume because she’s black that she should/has to date other black/mixed guys. For the record I’m white

      • SelectFromWhere

        I have a good friend who used to be called “Oreo” for the reasons you mention, but I’ve never heard “coconut”…Wow.

    • Iris Stephen

      Not that it helps, but you get the ‘angry’ label (or the ‘angry feminist’) label as a white woman too, if you speak your mind around a particular kind of guy.
      And the one thing I would find kind of positive about the portrayal of black women in the media is that they are portrayed as stronger, bigger personalities than the stereotypical white girl. It would annoy me too if I were you, but I’d rather be Olivia Pope than Blandy McBlanderson.

  • SelectFromWhere

    I am a gay man who–GASP–dislikes anal sex and has not “done it” for decades!! It seems that almost 100% of straight people and a high % of even gay men cannot fathom that we aren’t all either “tops” or “bottoms”, or of not, then it means we are “versatile”. Nope, I’m “none of the above”. Just don’t find it pleasurable in either position (of course I’ve tried) and there are plenty of sexual things two men can do together without “that”.
    Actually I’ve seen stats saying that between 15-20% of gay men don’t practice this one act (getting higher, the older you get), yet it is still the very first thing anybody pictures when we tell them we’re gay. If they ask us any remotely-sexual questions, they will always boil down to anal sex questions because heterosexuals seem to think that intercourse is the end-all, be-all. And of course, the Right wing just dismisses us all as “Sodomites”, no matter how inaccurate that term is (and never mind that a quite high % of straight couples practice anal sex from time to time, so they are “Sodomites”, as well).

    There are plenty of other gay stereotypes, but this is the one that even “open-minded” straights and even my gay brethren often get wrong. I know some gay guys who claims it doesn’t count as “having sex” if you don’t f**k–what a bunch of bull. If you’re naked with someone and exploring each other’s genitals, you’re having sex.

    • DarkEnergy

      If you don’t mind sharing, what do you like to do for sex? Is it mostly a form of mutual masturbation? I’m genuinely curious. (I’m straight, BTW)

      • James

        oral duh

      • SelectFromWhere

        Oral, chiefly…don’t straight people ever have sex that doesn’t involve “penetration”?

    • Cabnboy

      As a straight man, I have to admit that I have made the assumption that anal is something that all gay men would do. However, it’s not really something that I’ve thought about all that often and, perhaps, if I had I would have realized that it makes perfect sense for some gay men not to want anal.

      Even more disturbing to me, though, is the fact that this has come up in conversation often enough that it annoys you. I wonder if the people that asked you if you’re a top of bottom would ask a straight couple if they’ve tried anal. How is that their business?

      Thanks for the perspective!

      • SelectFromWhere

        It’s not so much that people would ask about top/bottom (though gay guys sometimes do when “surveying” a group of friends and acquaintances–and apparently if you meet people online, that’s a major thing), but in online discussion mostly, straight people always assume that anal sex is part of who I/we am/are. The haters inevitably say things like “Well why should be legalize sodomy?” (when referring to same-sex marriage), but even well-meaning straight people such as yourself might ask a generic question about “roles” where the clear assumption is that we all participate in anal sex. For example, the topic comes up about why gay men aren’t allowed to give blood, and someone might gently say “Well, anal sex is a high-risk practice…” at which point I chime in with “but I don’t do that, yet my blood is considered “tainted”.

        No, I can’t say that straight people have ever asked me specifically if I was a Top or a Bottom though straight friends who are out partying with gay guys will often get up in the conversations about sex that people tend to always have when they’re out drinking together and it might come up in that context, no harm done except shattering some assumptions.

        Thanks for YOUR perspective! I think this is the kind of thing this thread is for!

  • SelectFromWhere

    One more somewhat silly one: I am tall (6’3″) and no, I never played basketball, I dislike playing basketball, I can’t even make a foul shot, and I don’t even know every single RULE of basketball!! I would rather watch almost any other sport on TV!

    • marisheba

      My sister has a good friend who is 6’8″, thin as a rail, and black. Here in Portland, which is a really white city. Complete strangers approach him to ask if he is a Portland Trailblazer. All. The. Time. Like you, he’s never even played basketball, and doesn’t much care for it. He’s nice about it when people ask, but I would imagine it would be pretty obnoxious and insulting to keep enduring.

      • SelectFromWhere

        Oh yes, being BLACK and tall, I imagine he hears almost nothing else! Same with being a woman and over 6 feet or so. At least I, while “tall”, am not “freakishly tall” (I just feel like that when in coach class on a plane).

  • Karen Edgerton

    I have a REALLY great imagination and find the weirdest things in almost any situation. Sometimes its funny or morbid or just a strange way to look at things. People are always (literally) backing away from me and laughing AT me behind my back, and sometimes to my face. Or they will argue with me about how I am ‘wrong’ in my thinking. Why is thinking, and voicing, the different ways I see things so upsetting to people? Why are different perspectives so threatening to most people?

  • wobster109

    People like to ask me if I speak Chinese, in Chinese, wearing a beaming smile like I’m supposed to be pleased that they care about “my” culture. Sometimes outright strangers do it. And I agree that studying foreign languages and cultures is important and meaningful. But honestly it’s very awkward for me. I was born and raised in the US, and my Chinese is quite poor; I’m embarrassed and self-conscious about it. (Yes, I’m aware that practice is good for me, but I prefer to practice with friends and family instead of total strangers.) And then they query me about China’s politics and economy, its music and geographical landmarks, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shinto, Taoism. Like I’m Wikipedia or something. I have no idea. Even more awkward is when they open in Japanese or Korean, and then I really have no idea. I’m happy for you that you’re interested in East Asian language/culture. But you can’t just see my Asian face and cast me into the role of your private tutor. I don’t have all the answers.

    • Rachel X

      same issue here. btw, people always just assume that Asians are nerds and good at maths, which make me really annoyed 🙁

    • brony

      I understand 99% of Chinese but I can’t get out a sentence. I don’t know why ._.

    • Tom

      I can kind of pose as the other side of your problem. I’ve been studying Chinese culture and language as a major for about half a year now. We get encouraged to try and practice our Chinese outside class as well, for example when we think someone might be Chinese. It’s hard to get a grasp on it when you never meet native speakers!
      I’m not trying to fetch me some compliments when I do ask someone if they might be Chinese, and least of all am I trying to make people feel awkard. I’m also never going to start speaking it right away, first I’ll have a listen to your accent (if you have one) before I go ahead and make a fool of myself, and never with random strangers on the street.
      I sort of feel sorry for you now, to be honest. Sincerely though, everytime I stepped across my awkardness border (I have one too! We’re not all merciless hunters chasing helpless native Chinese prey), the response has been utterly awesome. Most really open up when they hear you making an effort to learn something they can only share with their friends and family from the same country.
      Don’t be too hard on the overenthusiastic language learners, I get annoyed by them too. Hope you can have some nicer conversations in the future than a monologue of someone demonstrating their knowledge!
      Hope you can practice a lot with your friends and family, I’m struggling with the same thing as you 🙂

      • wobster109

        Hi Tom, I think the problem is when people try to practice on random strangers. It would be very weird to stop a random stranger of any appearance and start speaking in German. Or to approach a stranger and ask what it’s like to be gay. Or to walk up to a random person with a wheelchair and ask about disabilities. it helps to talk to someone you already know, or someone you’re already talking to. Once, I was talking to a lovely gentleman at a party, and when the topic of parents came up he asked if I was willing to have a Chinese conversation with his kid brother. That was lovely. Another time I was at the grocery store at 11 PM after a long day of work with a headache, and a random stranger opened in Chinese without bothering to ask if I had a few minutes to spare. That was uncool.

        • Tom

          I’m being the devil’s advocate once more, but I think when people try to talk to you, it is exactly because they don’t have friends or family they can practice with. They’re learning a new language and get excited when they think they have an opportunity to practice it. Maybe you’ve noticed it’s oftentimes not the most advanced speakers. More advanced learners usually have a few friends they practice with instead.

          The last guy you described can definitely be considered rude, but even he probably didn’t want to embarass you. It’s not that black and white, in my opinion.
          I don’t really think your comparison with the German and gay person fits, since it’s way harder to tell from the outside. The fact that you look like a person out of a country where the vast majority speaks Chinese, isn’t racist. People base themselfs on visual cues all the time. I’m sorry if people make you feel uncomfortable, though.

          In short: I’m not malicious, I’m a (maybe a little too) enthusiastic language learner

  • Amyrekha

    I’m short (5 feet) and people often feel the need to ask me how tall i am (this tall, as tall as you see..would a number really make a difference to you?). they also often ask me how much i weigh, which often feels really intrusive. I think people get brazen around shorter people because they see me as something they have more control over, even though that’s not true. Also this was an interaction that actually happened:
    her: “are you tall enough to be considered a midget? like, to be on disability?”

    me: “no. that’s about 4’8”. I’m taller than that.”
    her: “oh, how’d you know that?”
    me: “well, i looked it up.”
    her: “why would you look it up?”
    me: “because people have asked me if I was legally a ‘midget’ before.”
    her: “who would ask you such a thing?”
    me: “someone rude would.”

    I think some people are unfortunately very dumb. Also using the word “midget” to refer to anyone sounds really derogatory and offensive, fyi.

    • DarkEnergy

      I used to be very short throughout middle and high school and it sucked for me. Then I had a growth spurt and I’m about 6 feet tall. I vowed to never make fun of or discriminate against someone because of their height. I know great people of all shapes and sizes. It sucks to live in a world designed to serve people who aren’t quite like you.

    • Glowing Monkey

      I would also like to add that people calling others ‘tiny and cute’, ‘like a little doll’ or making any other similar ‘positive’ remark about size are just as rude – and that’s regardless if they’re referring to children or adults.

  • David

    As a male, I would like to express something to all of the females who are reading this.

    I am just as uncomfortable riding alone in an elevator with you. Women are rightfully cautious during situations like these because sexual assault is frighteningly more common than it should be. As a person who belongs to a demographic that is responsible for making you feel uncomfortable, I am truly sorry. But please know that not all of us are creepers or perverts. When I am in an elevator on my way up/down, and it stops midway for you to get on board, I dread it as much as you do. I know that simply being a male puts you on alert. It sucks, and I wish it did not have to be this way.

    Continue staying safe, ladies.

    • DarkEnergy

      As a man, I second this sentiment.

    • Wim K

      As a man, I hate this as well! It’s the same as when you’re walking down a quiet street behind a woman. The woman is feeling uncomfortable because there’s a strange man walking behind her, and I’m feeling uncomfortable because I KNOW I’m making the woman feel uncomfortable. At this point I usually do a little awkward speed walk just to pass her, and then have to keep up an annoyingly fast pace to make it seem like I actually meant to pass her.

    • marisheba

      Interesting. As a woman, being alone in an elevator with a man doesn’t phase me at all – as long as they’re minding their own business and not being weird, which is the case 99% of the time. I mean, being alone with an elevator with any stranger is a bit awkward, but that’s about it.

      Walking alone at night with footsteps behind me is a different story though. I do appreciate it when the person behind passes me and/or crosses the street. Totally makes sense that it’s an uncomfortable situation for all involved.

    • Sarah

      Also, as a woman, I have not felt an increased awkwardness with a man in an elevator, as a with another woman. This seems to perhaps be something you men have made up in your heads and is causing un-do stress! I think for the most part, elevators are in public places and contain emergency call buttons/intercoms, and are generally safe. I did not know elevator sexual misconduct was rampant.

    • rresaff

      I think there’s a general awkwardness when two people going about their business alone suddenly meet up. Particularly when neither is extroverted so there’s silence on top of it all. Even in broad daylight walking down the sidewalk if I have the same pace as the person in front of or behind me and we’re just walking together for a bit I’ll speed up or slow down to create more space. I don’t have a fear for my (or their) safety, I just find it slightly strange. So probably not a male-female thing, just a human thing… maybe just an introverted human thing.

    • Iris Stephen

      Second all the people that said that being alone in an elevator in a man does not especially frighten them. It’s just awkward because I’m an introvert and you never know whether to make smalltalk or just stare past each other. The one time male strangers frighten me is if they sit right down next to me on an otherwise nearly empty train, subway or bus at nighttime (obviously not if it is really full and there are no other seats). There’s an above average chance they’re either somewhat creepy, intoxicated, crazy or some combination.

  • Audrey Seguy

    I live in the UK, but grew up in the States. People here ask whether I’m Canadian. I think it’s because they think it will be less offensive than if I were Canadian and they assumed I was American. I’m actually French and I technically have three nationalities- British, French and American. It irks me when people ask me what I “really” am. All of the above to some degree and none of the above. Also while we’re discussing identity, when I’m in France there isn’t really a word for British. Everyone assumes we’re english (‘les Anglais’). My husband is from Wales and he’s definitely not English, but he doesn’t identify with being Welsh either.

  • Joel

    ADD or whatever it is I have. I’m always assumed to be making it up as an excuse because people don’t understand it. I tend to be pretty skeptical by nature so can understand that it could be part of some grand conspiracy by Big Pharma to sell Adderall, but I rather doubt it. What I know for sure is that I’ve been plagued for my entire life by an inability to focus long enough on complex tasks to really accomplish much. It sucks to be able to imagine great things without the ability to follow through. Sometimes I can accomplish a lot through pure passion but even then I eventually run out of steam and leave my grand projects a tangled, incomplete mess (ask me about my rock opera).

    I think people see me as I often see myself – as a lifelong underachiever – and I feel judged as lesser for it. When I got my diagnosis I felt a great relief. Finally I can let myself off the hook for some of my flaws. Others, though, seem to resent me having an excuse. For them, I’m just whining about the struggle that they all endure and find a way to overcome without drugs or special treatment. It seems difficult for others to accept that I’d rather be normal and perfectly functional without any external help.

    • Erwin

      It’s funny how everyone in this Dinner Table seems to experience this matter the same way. I too recently had my diagnosis and I recognise every word you say here. Actually I’ve got my first Ritalin-cure yesterday and started it this morning, and I’ve at least got much more things done this morning than usual… It simply really works and the results of my last exams in january (since I’ve had the suspicion of ADD somewhere last year I have selfmedicated me with amphetamines at times of exams) proof that. Exams that I did terribly bad three times before, I had now done almost perfectly, simply because of the focus and therewith being able to bring structure into things.

      Anyway, the thing that contributed much to me sorting all this out was actually Tim’s Procrastination article, combined with Piers Steels’ Procrastination Equation. It were those two pieces that brought me to dive into it and have a diagnosis done.

      So in a way Wait But Way has been lifechanging for me. For which I am incredibly thankful. So thanks Tim!

      • Erwin

        I’d also like to add the fact that having AD(H)D has a lot of upsides. It also probably made me do a loads of things that most people wouldn’t do, because they’re too risky or too uncommon or whatever and most of all too impulsive, and though sometimes things got me into trouble, I wouldn’t want to miss out on that for anything. It makes life a shitload of fun to me.

  • M. Jacobsen

    I have one. First, let me preface this by saying that my stereotype hasn’t resulted in serious negative consequences for me. By sharing this, I by no means intend to imply that my experiences are comparable to those of others who have truly suffered or been hurt due to stereotypes. On the suffering scale, my experiences with stereotypes rate as “mildly annoying”.

    My stereotype is that when I tell people that I grew up in Amsterdam, they automatically assume that I smoke pot. Nope! I don’t mind people asking me if I smoke pot, but it annoys me when they refuse to believe me after I tell them no.

    None of my friends in school smoked pot, and I never met an actual pothead until I moved to the States.

    While I don’t have any statistics on drug use in Amsterdam during the 1980’s – the time that I lived there – my personal observation is that the vast majority of all drug use there was by tourists.

    (As an aside, there was one time I was interviewing for a job and the pothead manager couldn’t stop smiling while he said, repeatedly, “So, you’re from Amsterdam?” I got the job.)

  • Rebecca Schiffman

    This might be really specific but it does annoy me.

    I’m a singer-songwriter. And I’m a woman. It bothers me when men (it’s always men) come up to me after a show and tell me that they “love female singer-songwriters.” That’s not a genre. Think of how different the music of Bonnie Rait, Bjork, Lauryn Hill and Lady Gaga is. Gillian Welch’s music is more similar to that of Gram Parsons than Avril Lavigne. When someone tells me they love female singer-songwriters, as if it’s a compliment, it feels patronizing and fetishistic. It makes me feel like they didn’t appreciate the music I was playing but just liked watching a girl on stage.

    • marisheba

      I don’t know if this helps, but as a not-very-musically-knowledgeable person, I think of “singer-songwriter” as something pretty specific: someone who gets on stage with a guitar or other instrument and sings songs they have written, with no other accompaniment. You could also have two people with one instrument each, doing a singer-songwriter duo. Even though many different styles of music may be covered, there is a certain feel to that setup that is quite distinct, and that I can very much understand people having a preference for, as they might for any genre. But maybe that’s just me? I’m not sure where that definition came from.

      And, that said, there’s still no reason to isolate you as a *female* singer-songwriter. Presumably people who like singer-songwriters would like the men just as much as the women.

  • lldemats

    I’m an underachiever. What the world thinks about me and those like me pretty much hits the nail right on the head.

  • The_Postindustrialist

    Not really…

    Because fuck it. I’m me.

    Demographics don’t really mean anything, nor do people’s opinions on those demographics. Instead, it’s just important to me that I do good things, and figure out a way to be happy doing them.

    • Ric

      Love this

    • InjunPotato

      Sorry to burst your balloons, but demographics mean A LOT. Just take some time to read the other comments on this article and you’ll see just how much people’s lives are affected by their demographic situation.

      • wobster109

        I agree entirely. I’m me, but I’m also a small-statured woman, and no amount of being happy with myself will change the fact that a stranger followed me five blocks to my home when I was alone one night.

      • The_Postindustrialist


        I posted what I did because I wanted to keep it short.

        I frequently seem to give people a bad impression based on what I look like and my rather colorful childhood.

        I get harassed by the police regularly (though perhaps less in the past two years), and when I travel I get searched for nothing more than someone thinking I’m suspicious.

        There’s so many things that people assume about who and what I am based on how I look… but ya know what? I honestly refuse to allow other people’s opinions on who I am or what I do dictate who I am or how I view myself.

        I can read these, and I can see that people figure “oh, well, I have glasses, so people think I’m smart,” or”i’m sort so women turn me down for my height” or “i have dark skin so people think I’m up to no good”…..

        But the question I ask, is this something that really matters to you, and if so, WHY?

        Jean Paul Sartre had a truly wonderful philosophy. He believed, that for the most part, we could overcome the menial facts about what we were and could still do and become things that transcended our labels, (or facticity). He also believed that to not strive to be your utmost was an act of bad faith. A man in wheel chair could wallow in depression at the loss of the use of his legs, or he could use that loss to fuel him into a different field, and work to either cure his disability or prevent others from suffering his loss. The facts about him don’t necessarily have to define who he is… And that’s kinda the big take away message that I’d rather live than sitting around reminding myself of my “demographics” and what others think of me.

  • Jonathan Wells

    I’m also an alcoholic in recovery like one of the other commenters. People sometimes feel like they need to be careful of drinking around me, or sort of conceal it from me. Your drinking is not my problem: my drinking is my problem. Now that I have some years of sobriety, I don’t mind having people drink around me. I get that people are just trying to be respectful, but it’s not like I don’t know that people drink in the world. I did. It’s not like you have to hide it from me. Sometimes, their weirdness about their drinking seems to be a sign that they’re not entirely okay with it themselves. The other night, someone said, when I told him where I was staying, “Oh, you live by that liquor store on X St. — I’m not an alcoholic, I just know there’s a liquor store there.” Did I say he was an alcoholic?

  • Jessica

    I’m a single mom to four kids, I have crooked teeth, I live in poverty, and I am a domestic violence survivor. I have really bad ADD and I have depression. I realize that all of those things are interrelated (except the teeth but a majority of people have a negative association with crooked teeth so it reinforces their idea of me) but at the same time very separate things (as in people can experience those things individually without experiencing the other things). It is extremely hard to say any of those things to people because of the immediate negative judgements. People see those negative judgements above me as a person. Because of those negative judgements they have a tendency to not want to interact with me (unless they are in the same situation as me).

    So often times I lie but not really lie. I try to make it sound like the girl’s dad and I were in a long relationship that ended amicably. I omit that I live in poverty or that he was really abusive. I omit the truth and give half truths to avoid harsh judgments and so people with get to know me and base me on me. I am more than my circumstances and I am tired of my circumstances ruling how other people think of me.

    • Scott

      You most certainly are not only the sum of your circumstances. None of us are. I would say that we are defined by the choices we make–what we do with the circumstances dealt to us. If you live in America, you know we have a lot of federal and state programs in place to help. You don’t have to live in poverty, and you can combat your depression (trust me on this). I’m glad you wrote your response. It’s a great step. Take more!

    • No thanks

      I can perfectly understand where you’re coming from, I’m in a very similar situation and unfortunately you’re very right in your assumption that most people label you based on these circumstances, to a level where it obscures everything else about you. I’ve had enough chances to hear people around me talk about other people in these kind of situations, to get a pretty good idea about their views before making the mistake to say anything about me. It makes me very angry, too, and no, I haven’t found a better way to deal with it than not disclosing these things as much as possible and I don’t think explaining to them the mistake they’re making would help change their minds, I think it’s something deeply planted in their minds and their reactions to this, even when they don’t show it, are very automatic / instinctive. Maybe if it was more the result of some form of reasoning, it could be changed.

      I don’t know what more to say to you but I really needed to say something 🙂

      I would like to add, although I guess you might have figured this out about yourself by now, that despite what others think of us, we’re tougher than they can ever hope to be and this is one good thing we can model for our children.

      And that it helps to focus on your kids and see them as your partners, talk to them about how you feel about things, they can tell when something’s wrong anyway, it’s not like you’re protecting them if you don’t tell them about your problems. In my experience, they feel a little better when they at least have a clearer idea about what the problem is, instead of imagining something worse + they’ll feel much more comfortable discussing their problems with you + sometimes they can actually help, however unlikely that sounds. They always want to help and if you can find together some small way in which they could, it would also make them feel better and more in control of the situation.

      And that the best ways I know about for dealing with depression or ADD is some form of exercise that you might like, spending as much time as possible outdoors, close to nature, and figuring out what you really really like and making time for it every now and then – the best part is that you can share all these things with your kids and it would be very good for them, too.

      And about finances – this is something I’ve gotten better at and I can tell you it can be helped (who knows, maybe eventually we’ll also afford to fix our teeth). In my experience, the best way to go is to identify something that you could learn faster than most people and be better at than most people. Don’t be afraid to try a new field, especially if it’s something that changes fast – this means that other people’s experience and your lack thereof become irrelevant, and if you manage to learn faster than your competitors and stay up to date at a better pace then them you have the advantage. In my case, it’s online marketing – I don’t even have a degree and I’ve only started working in this field a few years ago, but the facts that everything changes fast and I’m a super-fast & highly adaptive learner, that there aren’t many options to get formal tertiary education in this field, even for those that (unlike me) have the money and time, and business owners care more about how you can help them grow their business than about what qualifications you have and that it’s something you can do from home or any place with an internet connection (while also being a mom) make it the perfect choice for me. And it works, I earn enough to afford a nice lifestyle for me and my daughter and I get more work offers than I can take. You could try this yourself, or just apply the same type of reasoning to find what would work best for you. And it also helps to keep a very close track of every expense and see where you could cut costs.

      Ok, I’m finished now 🙂 I really hope any of the above is of some use to you.

  • Wim K

    First of all, as a white South African, I pretty much live under the assumption (here and overseas) that I’m a racist. I get it. Apartheid was a thing, it sucked, and white South Africans have to live with that. But I was born in ’95 – a year into democracy – so I wasn’t even a foetus by the time apartheid ended. And while I acknowledge that white people are still in a considerably better position in this country (things don’t just change overnight), I hate the constant looks I get when I mention my nationality, as if I was responsible for it. Foreigners always try to judge where I stand with questions like “so what did you think of Mandela?” or “what’s your opinion on the ANC?” I’m actually very liberal, and it irks me that I live with this stigma. It’s even worse when people hear that I have an Afrikaans name – one of the reasons I try my best to hardly ever speak Afrikaans.

    Secondly, I am an introvert. I like to be alone sometimes, and not in a Tumbler, pizza-is-my-spirit-animal, I-take-naps-and-don’t-go-to-parties-but-really-have-an-active-social-life kind of way. I sometimes need a day or two when I really just don’t want to speak to anyone. And I know this offends some people – I try my best not to, but some people are really clingy – but I hate it that people constantly assume I must be depressed or something. I don’t need alone time to stew in my sadness or something like that, I need it because being around people a lot is exhausting for me.

    • James

      I had a best friend in HS who was from South Africa, don’t think people assumed her to be racist, but she does love to party and people probably assumed all South Africans like to because of that.

      • Wim K

        Heh, I guess that’s not exactly false 🙂

        It’s great that you and your friends didn’t jump to that conclusion. For some reason I’m assuming you’re American? I get it a lot more from Europeans and (especially) Australians/New Zealanders. One really nice thing I’ve noticed about Americans is that they tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt when meeting new people. The rest of us can be a judgemental bunch…

        • James

          Yup, I’m American. I would say Americans are just as judgmental, probably just have different stereotypes and assumptions though. I think pretty much every country in the world has people who enjoy partying, because having a good time and losing inhibitions is a past time humans enjoy, not limited to one nationality.

          I love travelling and South Africa is definitely at the top of my list as Africa is the only continent I haven’t been to yet. Come visit America some time!

          • Wim K

            Actually planning a trip to Colorado and Washington/Oregon as we speak! America looks like an incredible destination.

            And South Africa is a great place to visit. Make sure you don’t leave the country without seeing Cape Town – one of the best cities in the world. I’m biased of course (I’m Capetonian), but a city doesn’t become the most visited destination in Africa for nothing…

    • Iris Stephen

      Completely agree with the last part. Being an introvert is not a ‘condition’. I wish more people wouldn’t auto assume you have to default to being an extrovert.

  • leongaban

    The Asian quiet nerd stereotype is pretty annoying, I find myself more these days aspiring to get better on the path of the warrior poet archetype. Also the one about Asians men can’t date outside their race, sadly that one has had an effect on me in that I only date outside my race now to counterbalance stereotypes.

    A lot of these current thought patterns are understandable however, Asians from my parents generation and before came to America from war torn countries and many were malnourished. American diets have changed things around however, as Asian Americans are a lot bigger and healthier than their parents for the most part.

  • Vanessa Rjs

    English is my second language. I started learning it when I moved to the U.S. at age 17, and at age 32 I still have an accent, but I consider my English and grammar to be decent. Still, there are some words that I might unknowingly pronounce wrong and I find annoying that most well meaning people would not point it out because they are afraid of hurting my feelings or making me feel bad. It’s actually helpful when someone tells me because I can correct my mistake and I really appreciate it as I do strive to make my English better :). Not that it’s anybody’s job, but it’s one of those small things that can save someone from more future embarrassment… Because you know, there are other not-so-good-meaning people that assume you are stupid just because you have an accent and mispronounce a word or two. 😉

    • voscerote

      That’s painful to hear! I lived abroad for a few years, and although my Spanish got faster I still said many things wrong for a long time. Most of the time I was in a friend-group environment (large group of young males), and correcting someone’s speech would just never happen. Ironically, on returning to the States, I made a couple of friends from Spanish speaking countries that hung out with me a lot, and I feel like it improved my grammar and fluency a ton–a little bit from their correcting me, but mostly from my listening to them in a small-group or one-on-one setting. In a work environment, or even just a large-group setting, people just won’t offer corrections I think. Having a convo-buddy is the way to go! (Also many people in the U.S. probably just find an accent charming)

    • Michael

      I can relate.

      I speak Spanish well enough that people usually just ignore all but my worst blunders, which gives me a false sense of how well I’m speaking. I may speak better than any other foreigner they’ve ever met, I would rather know what I’m still getting wrong, and it’s hard to learn after a certain point. I think you’re probably in a similar place in English, and when I think about it, it goes a long way toward explaining why I know so many foreign-born people who have lived in this country for years and years, and yet they still have odd language quirks. I used to have a professor from Belgium who said “isn’t it?” whenever French would say “n’est-ce pas?” That sounds very weird in English, and it’s just the kind of thing foreign-born people do when nobody ever lets them know this.

      On the other side of the coin, as much as I would enjoy learning from my mistakes in Spanish, I never correct people like that professor. I learned long ago that most people never give language much thought, whether it’s native or a foreign language they are compelled to learn. Most people do not appreciate such correction, and they take it badly. Their reactions vary, but rarely are they positive, so I learned to just ignore this stuff and remain silent.

      Having said all that… “Not-so-well-meaning people” is acceptable, but I like “not so well-meaning people” even better. Either way, you have to use “well” here instead of “good,” because it’s functioning as an adverb, not an adjective. This is an area of English so complicated that I couldn’t explain the grammar to you without being in danger of making a mistake, and I actually care about grammar. You will be doing good not to get shook up by thing’s like this, because most American’s do these thing’s wrong to. (That hurt to write.)

      • Vanessa Rjs

        Thank you! 🙂

      • someone

        did you use apostrophes on the last sentence on purpose>

      • “Most people do not appreciate such correction, and they take it badly.”

        i HATE that kind of thing – people should not react so negatively to being corrected.

    • rresaff

      Do you ever have to give a presentation? I work with a lot of foreign graduate students and post-docs and when they are prepping for a speech or talk our group will give advice on language as well as content. No one ever says anything in casual conversation though, you’re right, and I don’t think I ever would without specifically being asked. Not so much for sparing feelings but for the flow of conversation.

  • Anon

    Easy. I’m a man in California.

    My wife faked THREE domestic violence charges against me (also claiming that I hurt my 1 year old daughter). I’ll spare you all the details of my character, actions, and integrity (all impeccable), and the many holes in her fabricated stories, not to mention she can’t even keep her stories straight. I was not the best husband (never once abused her physically or emotionally), but nothing justifies using what is supposed to be a shield to protect as a weapon to destroy.

    Anyway, the family court system has it’s flaws (the judge even said as much) and I have been found to be a perpetrator of domestic violence. My soul and conscience are clear, but my psychology is feeling heavy pressure. My kids are both still under 3 years old, so I am grateful they don’t have to ‘deal with this’, though my absence has affected them in more subtle ways.

    But yeah, being a man in California means you are guilty until proven innocent. No fucking joke.

  • Jennifer

    I am 27 years old from Indiana. I’m blonde, tall, and thin. I have been described as having a “valley girl” accent. I have been called, for no reason: rich bitch, stuck up, stupid, snob, slut, and demeaned by constantly being called cute, pretty, little girl, BABY, “at least you’re pretty”, etc. I am in now way any of these things to 99% of the people I’ve met. Because I’m an attractive woman it is okay to call me pet names at work, or anywhere for that matter. Because I’m blonde, tall and thin I’m rich? I’m a paralegal so you figure it out. Because I’m blonde, tall and thin I’m a bitch? Anyone who knows me would never call me that. If I protest to these things people say I’m a feminist (like it’s a bad thing) or “oh I was just being nice, learn how to take a compliment”. When I go to Victoria’s Secret and ask for a smaller size bra, fellow customers and sometimes employees give me the eye. I have been called “anorexic” multiple times while in that store. I’m German and Russian, I could eat you out of house and home. Because I’m young, I’m dumb. If I were not thin, blonde, or tall, or didn’t have that cheery voice, would I be any of the above listed names?

    • Adam

      “…people say I’m a feminist (like it’s a bad thing)…” — oh, god, feminism. By definition, feminism is actually about gender equality, not explicitly women’s rights — I think the fact that it’s kind of a misnomer doesn’t help its reputation. The people who call you a feminist don’t have a clue what the fuck they’re on about.

      “I have been called “anorexic” multiple times while in that store.” — woah, that’s really harsh. I posted below that OCD being used too often by people informally means it’s trivialised; calling someone “anorexic” just because they’re a bit thin is absolutely horrible.

  • Leonardo Carneiro

    Well, there are lots of misconceptions about Brazil elsewhere. So, I’ll try to clarify some points:

    1. We do not speak spanish. We we’re predominantly colonized by Portugal, so, we speak portuguese. The difference between the portuguese from Brazil and from Portugal is similar to the differences between american and british english.

    2. Our capital is not São Paulo, neither Rio de Janeiro. Our capital is Brasilia. Rio was the nation’s capital once, but then the president Juscelino Kubitschek though it would be cool to build a new capital. More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bras%C3%ADlia

    3. Not everyone here loves soccer. Soccer is a major thing in Brazil (in Rio, where I’m currently living, people seems to be even more crazy about it), but there are people who don’t like or just don’t care about it. The point is, that, even between the people who most like soccer (almost everyone), this means they like to WATCH soccer, not to play. Here I am, working in a floor with 100+ people ranging from 22 to 65, and I can say that not even 10 plays soccer regularly.

    4. Not everyone knows how to samba and loves carnival (or carnaval, like we say). This is even more true than with soccer. Indeed, the media and the people who profits with carnival try to make the tourists believe that carnival is the only thing that matters in the country, that is a huge and happy party where the whole country celebrates with samba. I even like to hear some classic sambas on my playlist, but that’s all. There’s a lot of people who likes to enjoy the carnival holidays completely avoiding carnival.

    5. We do not leave in a jungle. Even with some little monkeys walking freely in some parks here in Rio de Janeiro, this is something unusual, and virtually no one in Brazil has ever seen a monkey out of the zoo.

    6. We are not what we sell. Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and other popular tourists destinations are made to be the very stereotyped version of the Brazil of your dreams (or nightmares, depending of your experience here). The rest of the country, and even most of the people who lives in such places, wakes early, go to work, take their sons to school and so life goes on.

  • Chick cop

    I’m a white female police officer.

    1. I’m not a lesbian. I’m not sure why this is assumed.

    2. I’m not racist. My concern has never been the color of someone’s skin, but what they have in their hands (in God we trust, everyone else, show me your hands!). My brother (by adoption) is black and nothing sickens me more than people being treated differently because of their skin pigmentation.

    3. In 8 years, I’ve never hit anyone. I’ve had to wrestle with a few people that didn’t want to go to jail, but I’ve never struck anyone with a fist, a baton, anything. The least amount of forse necessary to stop a suspect is ALWAYS preferred.

    4. I’ve never shot anyone. 99% of all cops won’t. It doesn’t stop people from asking me, “How many people have you killed?”. None, except for the people who have died laughing from my witty sense of humor.

    5. One of our least favorite things ever is when parents tell their kids, “If you don’t _____, that police officer is going to take you to jail!” We need your kids to trust us so they run to us if something goes wrong, not away!

    6. You only hear about the bad cops on the news. No one hears about the cop who cries themselves to sleep at night after a rough call involving removing children from a bad home situation, or who stays 8 late because a victim asks you not to leave, or who shows up to court while they should be sleeping to testify against the wife beater, or who changes your tire in the pouring down rain, or who buys you the formula you just stole instead of charging you with theft. For every bad officer, there are 300 good ones who do their job because they can’t stand by and watch innocent poeple be hurt.

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    • impfireball

      Somehow, I find it hard to believe that cops consistently go out of their way to get people to like them. You’re a rare case. Either that, or you live in San Francisco.
      If you want people to like you, don’t be a cop. It comes with the badge, as it were.

      • neroden

        There are police departments which do the right thing (it’s called the “Peelian principles” or “policing by consent” or the original version of “community policing”). In those departments, a lot of people do like the cops.

        Unfortunately, most police departments don’t do that. Many departments (NYPD, Baltimore, LA, etc.) have been taken over by thugs and have gone totally rotten — criminal cops run rampant and are never arrested, while whistleblower cops are harassed, threatened and even killed.

    • neroden

      The problem is that some entire police departments have gone bad. Once they go bad, good cops like you (and Adrian Schoolcraft, and Frank Serpico, and Joe Crystal) get hounded out.

      It’s those “rotten apples spoiled the barrel” police departments you usually hear about. Very very rarely one of those departments gets cleaned up (Sheriff Urquhart in King County, Washington is doing great work). But most of the time the bad cops *get away with it* and the rest of the cops in their department *protect them*. And when that happens, we can’t trust any cop in the entire department.

      And that’s why people are suspicious of you. Departments which are known to be rotten include NYPD, LAPD, LA Sheriff’s Department, Oakland PD, BART PD, several other Bay Area PDs, St Louis PD, a dozen other PDs in the St. Louis area, Chicago PD, Baltimore PD, Albuquerque PD innumerable PDs in the Deep South… you get the point.

      These outnumber the “clean” PDs (Following Sherriff Urquhart firing and arresting the bad apples, King County WA seems to be pretty clean now, for example.)

      The problem is that for every good officer, there seem to be 300 bad ones — ones who cover for and protect the actual criminals in their ranks. Yes, the bad ones are concentrated in particular departments, but those are often *big* departments like Chicago, NY, LA, Baltimore, St. Louis.

      Though sometimes they’re small (look up the NYS Police Troop C scandal: they framed hundreds of people with fabricated evidence before they were caught. Whole troop was in on it.)

  • SelectFromWhere

    I was adopted as an infant, am over 50 now. Please don’t grill me about whether I know who my “real parents” are, or any other specific details about an event 50 years ago that I don’t remember. If you must refer to the people I’m biologically related to, the proper term is “birth parents” or “biological parents”. My “real parents” are the ones who raised me. And for the love of God, if you want children and can’t give birth, don’t make rude comments like “Oh, I could never adopt–I really want MY OWN child.”

    And by the way, the fact that I still can’t see my own original birth certificate, even with names redacted, is absurd. Joe Blow the county clerk can see it, but I can’t. I get that my birthparents may not wish to be reminded that I exist and I would never want to upset their lives, but 50 years later, I should at least be able to know what time of day I was born or other details like that, and they MIGHT be interested in finding me by now. Yes, there are search services, but they have mixed successes and can be expensive.

  • marisheba

    Reading through these, broadly speaking peoples’ examples fall into two camps.

    One is people who keep running into the same annoying assumptions/stereotypes (ie that southerners are always uneducated and racist, or that all people from Amsterdam smoke pot). These seem straightforward – it’s good to get the word out about these things. Making assumptions about people you don’t know is unfair, and acting/asking questions based on those assumptions is usually rude.

    The second category is more like Tim’s example, where people who have a non-mainstream circumstance of some kind find that people don’t know how to act around them – often feeling awkward about their ignorance and erring on the side of caution. While this is definitely annoying, I think it’s a lot more understandable and well-meaning. Partly because we all have areas of ignorance, partly because it comes from a place of not wanting to offend, but mostly because there actually aren’t any hard-and-fast rules. Some lesbians probably would be annoyed or offended by being asked questions about being a lesbian, as if they were a spokesperson for their group, or as if peoples’ curiosity entitled them to pry into her private life. So who will be offended and who won’t? It’s hard to predict, and a lot of times it’s safer to wait until you know the person better before you decide. I feel like here, it’s really just patience all around that is called for.

    And I say this having a “second category” issue (though not as identity-related as being a lesbian). My dad died when I was a kid, and there is no way to halt a conversation faster than to mention that fact – unless I’m talking to someone else who has experienced major grief. It was a long time ago and I’m very comfortable talking about it – in fact I LIKE talking about it. I like remembering my dad, and I also find death and grieving to be rich, fascinating topics. But I get peoples’ discomfort around it too. Especially since there are people who have experienced the same thing I have, and who DON’T want to talk about it at all. It can lead to awkwardness, but it is awkwardness born of sensitivity and uncertainty, so it’s extremely easy to forgive.

    • S

      I think one of the recurring points that’s come up about your second category, at least relating to sexuality, CAN have a hard and fast rule- don’t ask questions you wouldn’t ask a straight person. I don’t think it’s ever really the right time to decide to pry… If you are talking to a straight person you don’t ask, hey which position do you like to be in in bed? So, unless you are really close friends and talking about dating and dirty details with someone, it’s really never appropriate to ask for example, a gay man, so, i’ve been wondering, are you a top or a bottom? The assumption that you can ask about this stuff to a gay man but not a straight man makes it seem like they’re a sideshow.

  • Robert Louis Pagnani

    I am Irish. No joke. You look at my name, and you will automatically assume I am very, very Italian, because I have dark hair.
    My mother is from Ireland. That is where she was born (to 100% Irish parents). That is where she lived the first twenty two years of her life.
    She married a guy with an Italian grandfather (My dad).
    So my name.
    I have been to Ireland to visit grandparents, my cousins, my aunts and uncles countless times. My mother has an Irish accent. I qualify for and have an Irish passport. I know Irish vernacular.
    Irishness is a huge part of my family identity.
    But because I have an Italian last name, and don’t have red hair and freckles, people will negate that.

    Especially around St. Patricks day, with people who have a very distorted view of Irish culture, will often say to me, “Well, what do you know about Irish culture? You have an Italian last name?”

    And this is AFTER I have explained my family structure.

    This drives me nuts!

  • Hilabilla

    As an Israeli, most people assume a few things: 1) That I hate Palestinians, or more broadly, Arabs; 2) I’m religious, 3) All Israelis are of European descent. Well, a few clarifications: Firstly, I don’t hate Palestinians or Arabs. I think the vast majority of Palestinians are normal people who, like the majority of Israelis, just want to live in peace. That doesn’t mean I don’t support my country. It’s my home, of course I do. Military service is mandatory in Israel, but that doesn’t mean that we all agree with what the government or military does all the time. I want us to live in harmony and I am not the only Israeli who thinks this. Secondly, I’m an atheist. I am Jewish by birth, I guess you could say, but I don’t believe in god and I don’t practice at all. I’m also married to a non-Jew. Thirdly, there seems to be this assumption that Israelis are all Polish or Russian or something. A lot of us are, but my family came from North Africa (Morocco and Algeria) and Iraq. Last I checked, over half of the Israeli Jewish population were of Middle Eastern/North African origin. Many people don’t realise this, or that there’s a difference between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish traditions. But, furthermore, all Israelis are not Jews. We have in Israel 1 million Arab Muslims and Christians, a sizeable baha’i community, Druze, etc. We have people from Europe, the Middle East, and places like Ethiopia. There’s a lot of diversity for such a small piece of land. I’d say that one thing you can count on among Israelis is that none of us agree 100% on anything.

  • Mekhala

    I was at a client dinner in Germany, one of those places where most of the cuisine is meat, and I am a vegetarian. I’m also Indian, so have brown skin. The dinner was arranged by a female colleague and she and I were the only two women in the group. When the service started, I noticed the waiters kept bringing her the vegetarian dishes, so I asked her why? how had she described me? She said, I told them you were a brunette (she was a brunette as well, hence the confusion.) I was surprised, I’d never been described as a brunette. I asked her why she didn’t just tell them I was brown or Indian or something. She got this horrified look on her face and said, I would NEVER say that about you! So, why not? It’s not like it’s a deformity or something, I’m Indian, I’m brown, I have no problem with that. I think she was trying to be nice, but in the end it was just offensive. She was trying so hard to prove to herself that she didn’t see me as different, that she proved just how different she thought I was.

    There are other examples as well, most of them relating to people who grew up with more privilege than I did lecturing me on the plight of the poor. I lived through it, tenements, bad schools, thrift stores and hand me downs, and I have no patience for people telling me about how disadvantaged “those people” are and how as a society we need programs to treat them specially. It’s another form of discrimination, and a superiority complex, to think that people can’t make it or survive without your help. Maybe it’s a know your audience thing, nobody likes being talked down about/to by someone who never experienced any of the things that they are complaining about.

    • SelectFromWhere

      Actually many people would have been very offended to be called “The Indian one”; she was trying to see beyond your skin color and not “define” you by it, to the waiter.

      • Martin Nick Smolík

        But saying “the indian one” is the best possible identification. Wasn’t identification the goal of the communication with the waiter? I really think that purpose of conversation should be above political correctness of it.

  • HoneyMonster

    I get hacked off by the insidious discrimination against part-time workers in the large corporate world. Things like:
    – requests to attend meetings outside my normal working hours, that I can’t always attend, so then they tut tut at my lack of commitment when I refuse.
    – being called a ‘jammy devil’ when I leave work at 3.30pm by those who never consider that I took a 30% pay cut to have this working pattern and that I’m leaving to start my second, unpaid, job raising children to be good citizens of the future
    – never being able to get a parking space at work because I start at 10am and then being told I should join the car-share scheme, as if anyone would want to leave work with me, going via school and after-school activities!
    – regularly being overlooked for the meatier projects or to represent the team at events
    – being considered to be on a ‘cushy number’ by those who don’t realise that I have the same meetings to attend and the same admin to deal with as a full-time worker so I have disproportionately even less time to get the job done.

    On top of this, the company will strenuously deny any discrimination and sees itself as a leading light in Equality and Diversity. And yet I get told “We’ll discuss your career progression when you come back full-time”. And in a performance review I’m told that, because I have a work-life balance – which I’ve worked hard to establish – then clearly I am less ambitious and less driven than other members of the team – those who are young, single, have no work-life balance and work all hours – so therefore I don’t get a pay rise this year. And the irony is that I sit on the Work-Life Balance Forum and I champion a better work-life balance for all employees, knowing full well how hypocritical it is.

    It’s not just me. I’ve seen the internal statistics on part-time employees that show our reduced opportunities for pay increases or promotion. And I talk to others in the same position who all share similar experiences. So why don’t I leave? Because it’s nigh on impossible to get a similar grade of job elsewhere on a part-time basis. Others who’ve tried have had to go for full time roles and then try to negotiate back to part-time, not always successfully. So here I stay with the golden handcuffs on, biting my tongue at each insensitive comment and waiting until my children fly the nest and I can do something completely different.

    • Professional appearances rather than professional performance is a major issue in American corporations (from my experience). You know, rhetoric over reality…going out of your way to appear as though you’re going out of your way…working longer rather than smarter, etc. (I wonder how long they can sustain that silliness…) 🙂

      • HoneyMonster

        There’s an element of that in British companies too. And a manic need to keep delivering more at a faster pace with less resource. It’s completely mad, especially when the deadlines are all man – made and nobody seems to have the courage to call it out for what it is!!

  • Sarah

    I do not feel I have much “stereotyping” in my life, or I choose to ignore it and just be me! However, I will discuss one that affected me much more as a child and I have not seen mentioned yet.

    I’m an identical twin. I’m not sure if stereotyping is the right word, but it was rough at times growing up as a twin. Some twins, totally embrace the cliches, but my sister and I certainly did not.

    When you are an identical twin people constantly assume and treat you AS THE SAME PERSON! People would also come up to me in the hallways just to guess who I was, we were often treated as a novelty. The greatest “injustice” was in six grade when we were jointly selected as “student of the month.” No other month had two students, only this one. We cried about it, we hated it. Now, I see that we should not have been so upset about it, but the school should never have done it. Twins need to be seen as individuals, just as every other student.

    In high school they had “twin day” where you were suppose to dress up as your best friend. We protested by me wearing white and my sister wearing black, along with signs of protest– “real twins against twin day.” Being a twin does not mean you dress a like…It was another attempt by us to be individuals.

    In conversation, I will generally only refer to her as my “sister” and not my twin, because without a doubt, me mentioning I have a twin will stop the conversation we are having and re-route it to be about me being a twin.

    Certainly, these things did not kill me, but this did shape me (and I’m sure my sister) enormously. For the most part, I think it made us quite outgoing and on a “mission” to be different people. We chose different activities, tried to have different friends, went to different colleges, studied different things, etc.

    Now as adults, living in different parts of the country, where no one knows I am a twin, I find it a little more endearing, and will bring it up from time to time. My sister and I are very close, but just as close as we are with our older sister, I think.

    • SelectFromWhere

      Yes, that is very patronizing to elect you both as “Student of the Month”. But I wonder if they were afraid picking just one of you would upset the other? Still, it’s no excuse, just a possible explanation.

      • Sarah

        Yes, I’m sure that was their reason. But they upset us both as a result! haha They probably wouldn’t have won either way!

    • Pam Collins

      I hear ya Sarah – in school I got called two things: 1) hey twin; or 2) which one are you?

    • Martin Nick Smolík

      I’m one of triplets. I feel your pain.

    • Lee

      I love love twins and I hope to have twin. If I were ur classmate growing up, u will probably hate me because u being twin is d only thing I would want to talk about. I guess some people, like me, just think it’s cool to be twin.
      Anyway, if I do have twin, i hope to remember how being twin made u feel.

  • stobak

    My father is African and my mother is Mexican. Though, there’s a host of stereotypes I’ve been subjected to, my biggest gripe is with Applications, Surveys, questionnaires, etc.. Why is there never a multi-racial option? I’m always given the option for either Latin-American (Mexican) or African American.. I’m almost always limited to either choice, but never both. So I usually resort to how Mexican or African I’m feeling that day.. That or I flip a coin.

    • wobster109

      I’m surprised the US hasn’t switched to a “check all that apply to you” model. Multiracial families are increasingly common.

      • rresaff

        I have been seeing an increase in “other” and “multiple” and “check all that apply” on such surveys, precisely because it is becoming more common, or at least more acknowledged.

    • Idan

      I always think that having a race option is outdated. If there is an option like “I’d rather not answer” I choose that one.

    • Iris Stephen

      OMG, you’re a real blackxican!

      Scrubs flashbacks. I’ll get my coat.

  • kts928

    I saw at least one post about presumptions people make when you’re from a big family but I have the opposite circumstance and I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this one yet: I am an only child. The dreaded stereotypical only child is bratty, spoiled, attention seeking and self centered. People regularly meet me and at some point say, “wow, you don’t seem like an only child,” which given the assumptions listed above, I take as a compliment. Oddly though, it’s those qualities I believe they’re referring to (my even-keeled temperament at work, for example, or a relatively quiet demeanor) that I also credit to my only-childness. I was a kid always more comfortable around grown ups than kids my own age. Even if I was pretending, I was certainly wise beyond my years. Also, playing by myself (and enjoying it!) probably had a hand in my introvert tendencies as an adult. It’s interesting to me that those attributes are never really associated with being an only child – maybe I’m an outlier!

  • rresaff

    I don’t like children and many people really struggle to believe this. Not understand it, but believe it. They generally don’t ask questions and instead make comments: “They are the future,” “My child is so well-behaved,” etc. The worst for me is “I don’t like kids either but it’s different when they’re your own.” For you maybe. I wouldn’t have a kid because I don’t like kids, that’s why I said “kids” in a general sense not “that kid” aka the loud/messy/annoying one in our vicinity. Not that I could solidly argue why I don’t like children to make someone else start to dislike children, it’s similar to not liking a food or not believing in a religion, you just “don’t”. And like certain foods or religions there are a lot of people who don’t like kids. Some know it, but sadly some can’t believe it of themselves and try to pretend for the sake of society.

    I suppose this can come up too when someone says “I don’t like dogs” and a dog-loving person will try to convince them to find just the right dog, but it’s more socially acceptable to pressure people into loving small members of their own species. Not that I have ever started a conversation with that statement before, usually it comes up when people ask why I don’t have children (note: that is a bit of a rude question that could be incredibly personal, don’t ask it.) If the conversation is about someone’s own child I’ll give them some time, I do understand they love their kid, but when it goes on too long I’ll try to steer the conversation to another topic. Anyone in a conversation where someone keeps bringing up random subjects take the hint and talk about something else.

    • Glowing Monkey

      I don’t mean to be rude in any way, but I was wondering what the common denominator is. To me, it just seems like a very broad category to have any positive or negative opinion about. Food or religions are far more specific, but children, cats, dogs… etc… people… I don’t get how one can have a strong opinion about any such group – if it’s like a general thing but with a few exceptions, I can get that, but from what I understand, that’s not the case here, right? Again, I’m sorry if I accidentally sound judgemental, I’m only curious.

      • Adam

        I can help you out with dogs: I have a phobia of them. Usually the first question I get asked is “did you have a bad experience with them as a child?” or something similar — the answer, for the record is “no, I didn’t”. I just don’t like dogs. Big ones are worse, but even poodles still make my heart beat faster. Most people’s phobias of spiders or insects don’t stem from real experiences — a phobia, by definition, is irrational so I don’t need to logically justify it.

        People can also be allergic to cat hair or whatever, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who, while they don’t have such extreme reactions to animals, dislike an animal (or even non-human animals in general). They don’t always have to justify it.

        And I think there are usually exceptions. I don’t know about the original person you were replying to, but for me, I have been able to stroke one or two dogs without wetting myself.

        • Glowing Monkey

          Thanks for your response. I don’t think it was an actual phobia that she was describing, but what you wrote makes a lot of sense. Even when it’s a strong visceral reaction I can understand how it would vary depending on the actual individual you’re reacting to (or not).

      • Girl Detective

        See my reply to Lee, a few comments up (they asked the same question)

        • Glowing Monkey

          Thanks, I read that reply, but I’m still wondering about the exceptions – because there are lots of babies that don’t cry that much, toddlers that are very independent etc.. these are not really inherent to age, it has more to do with the kid’s temper and personality

    • ratyoke

      I don’t like children either. I was kind of neutral toward them till I taught elementary school for a year in Korea, after that I couldn’t stand them. I have also taught middle and high school in Korea and teenagers don’t bother me. But younger children are so irritating.

    • marisheba

      A favorite response when people ask nosy questions that you don’t feel like answering is, “Why do you ask?”

      • Idan

        And then they go “just wondering, so what’s the answer?”.

    • Lee

      I respect your opinion, although I don’t get it. I understand someone not wanting children, but I don’t understand how you could dislike children.
      What specific reasons do u have for disliking children? I ask this because it’s almost impossible to dislike something for absolutely no reason.

      • Girl Detective

        Why do you think “immature”, “childish” and “grow up” are insults? Because children have a lot of behaviours that are widely recognised as unpleasant. (of course these are forgivable in a child, they’re just part of being that young – but that’s exactly my point.)
        I can tell you why I don’t like kids:
        – they’re pretty disgusting, haven’t yet learned good hygiene (like wiping their nose on their hands for example)
        – they get really upset about trivial things
        – seriously, just so petty
        – when they’re upset they don’t express it in good ways (“that hurt my feelings, can we talka bout it and reach a compromise?”
        – they can be very very repetitive – if they do something cute that gets a positive reaction, they’ll do it 40 more times, expecting the same positive reaction
        – related to the above, they’re very boring to talk to – they know so little (again, that doesn’t make them a bad child – it’s inherent to being a child)

        • Glowing Monkey

          I know a lot of exceptions to those stereotypes – it’s really a question of pleasant vs unpleasant child, just as distinguishing and choosing between pleasant vs unpleasant adults.

          Really, there are lots of toddlers that don’t like being dirty and if they accidentally get themselves dirty they’ll do the best in their power to clean themselves up, just because they don’t like it, not because someone teaches them to do so (and yes, they might not always be great at it when they’re very young, they might choose the wrong thing to wipe themselves with, not rinse properly etc, but it’s still far better than a kid who smears his boogers all over his face and hand/sleeve or lets it drip out of nose).

          I also know children who have been able to express being upset in reasonable ways as early as they learned their first few basic words and use body language to make up for words they didn’t have – this one also depends on how well they know you and if they think you would actually care if you’re making them upset and simply telling you would be enough to get your attention.

          Getting upset about trivial things is something that applies to grown-ups just as well – it’s simply a matter or perspective.

          And the boring ones will probably be just as boring as adults. Being interesting to talk to doesn’t have anything to do with age (from the moment the child can actually talk) – it has to do with having interesting ideas and views on things, a knack for storytelling and good people skills – again, I know children with whom I have far more interesting conversations than I have with many adults I know.

          • tank girl

            You have some good points, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with children. But many of us have a different perspective. I liken it to religion. We all view religion differently and should be respectful and not be forcing our views on each other.

            Women tend to be looked down upon when they express that they don’t want/like children. We can lead very fulfilling lives without them.

            It’s not just about the hygiene. I’m not a germaphobe. It’s also not about stereotypes.

            Children are not interesting to me. I never had the urge to have babies, I don’t go weak in the knees when someone brings a newborn around, I feel very put out when someone insists that I hold their baby.

            I’m not a maternal woman. I don’t want to spend my time with children

            I don’t get upset about the things children do, I simply choose not to subject myself to being around them for lengthy periods of time. I am childless by choice. I don’t want to have to decipher what a young child wants via their body language. I don’t want to have to have something around that is not self sufficient (I feel the same way about needy adults as well).

      • rresaff

        I don’t like kids for all the common reasons that even people who like kids complain about: crying babies, clingy toddlers, babbling elementary schoolers, moody high schoolers. I don’t blame them, it’s perfectly natural for their age and biology, I just don’t want to be around them.

        I suppose it’s also a bit of a visceral reaction. Have you ever held a large snake. I love how cool their body is, the rippling of all those muscles as they move, the textured silkiness of their skin. Those are the exact reasons a lot of people don’t like snakes though.

    • tank girl

      I’m right there with you!!! And being female, I have always been looked at with disgust and contempt (especially from mothers) when I don’t immediately go gaga over their precious child. How dare I not be in love with them, how dare I not want to have one of my own. Or pity. The pity is worse. As if I can’t live a fulfilling life being childless by choice!

      Thank you for your post.

  • Isis devine

    Yes that’s right my name is Isis. Growing up it has always made me the girl with the unique name. My mum always told me it made me special like the goddess Isis, who was the goddess of love and fertility. I loved it….until a couple of years ago. Now I hate introducing myself when I meet new people and am always second guessing people when they say “that’s nice”. Then you get the ones who straight up say “no way, how unlucky!”
    Im visiting New York in a few weeks and I am so worried about people’s reaction. So much so I have told my husband not to call me Isis while we are there! So FYI just because my name is Isis I am not a bad person!!

    • Jerome

      For what it’s worth, I have always loved the name Isis. I think it’s beautiful!

      • Isis devine

        Thank you!!

    • Guest

      Wow, this is so interesting. Isis really is a lovely name…I feel bad it’s been tarnished for you 🙁 Do you feel like people pretty much react every time you introduce yourself? Can you tell even if it’s just a flash of tenseness or awkwardness? Or do some people not even seem to be fazed at all?

      • Isis devine

        Some people you can tell straight away what they are thinking and it does make it quite awkward, even more so than the people who who say how unlucky I am. Other people say it’s a really nice name and follow it up by talking about the Egyptian goddess, and I feel a bit more relaxed.
        I was watching a program the other day and someone on the show was saying if their name was Isis they would seriously consider changing it!
        Then you have the few who have no reaction at all, one guy said he had never even heard of the terrorist group (not sure if he was lying about this!!)
        I do feel like I have to be exta confident when walking in to a room of people I have never met and just laugh off any negative comments.

    • Well…as Isis, Aphrodite and Venus were all essentially the same goddess… 🙂 Honestly, I’ve always loved the name…and the Sumerian-Babylonian myths about her.

    • Alan

      Man, that sucks because it is a really nice name. I know someone in your similar situation, however. My roommate is an american-arab named Osama. Needless to say he gets some interesting responses when he introduces himself and getting through an airport probably takes five times as long for him. Things were a bit easier for him, though, when they killed bin Laden but it still provides a lot of entertainment for me haha.

    • wow, that’s a pretty shitty situation you’ve got there. why does society have to give so many random things a huge negative connotation.

    • rresaff

      I didn’t notice the group and the goddess having the same name before, and it is such a nice name for a woman. I’ll call them ISIL, since it’s still seems to translate either way.

    • SelectFromWhere

      Did you hear of that “conspiracy theory” going around that the reason Isis, the dog on Downtown Abbey, died this season was because they “killed her off” due to ISIS? Oh please…

    • Idan

      Honest to God I think your name is beautiful (including the Devine part). Also, intelligent people are aware that Isis was a thing before ISIS.

  • Saskia Blom

    wish that people could continue questioning their implicit assumptions,
    even in the face of terror. I, for myself, noticed that, since the
    beginning of this year, it is more difficult to treat unknown members
    of a minority (that might be associated with the Charlie Hebdo-attack) with an an open attitude.
    matter how dedicated I am to avoiding to underestimate the capacity of
    minorities (of which I am one myself), apparently some doubts and fears
    have unconsciously entered my system.

    deep and inspiring interview with David Grossman addresses similar
    worries about the power of terror in polarising and dividing groups of
    And, for an answer, the ability to breath within fear:
    those who can’t spare the time to hear all of the interview (which
    would be a pity), at least listen to the part starting at 31:40.

  • wobster109

    I am a cryonicist, meaning that I have signed up to have my body frozen when I die in the hopes of being reanimated when future advances in medicine can fix whatever kills me. I’ve made a researched and careful decision. I am not crippled by fear, traumatized by anything, cowardly, in denial, falling prey to a scam, blinded by pseudoscience, or any of the usual stereotypes. People (especially dear friends) tend to assume I’m making a horrible mistake because it’s an idea that sounds weird. I don’t need “saving”, and I don’t need to be talked out of it. Trust that I’ve made the right decision for me, and for the love of thoughtful discourse! Do some research before spouting any of the aforementioned stereotypes at me.

    • James

      how expensive is that?

      • wobster109

        I’m funding mine through a life insurance policy, so it depends on your age and health. I’m mid-twenties, so for me it is $20 a month. After that you become a member of CI or Alcor, the companies that do the cryopreservation. They have different membership fees. CI has a lifetime membership option that is about $1000. It’s paid once and then you’re a member forever. Alcor has yearly membership of about $500.

        • Christopher Cassady

          Interesting to know about. I’m not terrified of death, but nobody has satisfactorily yet proved that we somehow continue to exist after we die either. My thoughts on possibly being immortal is being able to do more, learn more, create and discover, something that would never end or get dull. Unfortunately, being revived far in the future means virtually everyone I know that doesn’t have the same procedure done will be dead, but that’s a given. After the grief, there will be time to get to know a new world full of new people. So, this is something I want to look into. Thanks for the info!

          • wobster109

            My pleasure! If you’d like to go into detail you can email me (wobster0109@gmail.com).

            Feel free to send me a follow-up if I don’t respond for a couple days. Sometimes I lose real email by deleting big chunks of junk mail too quickly. 🙁

            • James

              What if its a scam and they simply pocket your life insurance money and never freeze or save your body? You’d never know

            • wobster109

              Then they’ve done the most comprehensive job of a scam I’ve ever seen. Cryonics Institute (CI) has been around since 1976, and has survived multiple legal challenges. They produce a detailed report each time a member is cryopreserved. If the patient is terminally ill then the family is often on-hand and prepared at the moment. Family members can go with the medical team and watch the procedure. Visitors are welcomed to the site, and visitors can watch the procedure as well. If they really were just throwing away the bodies, it’s unlikely to have stayed secret for so long.

    • Vivid

      This is amazing. I didn’t know about this. and I respect your decision completely.

      • wobster109

        Thanks! I appreciate the open attitude! ^^

    • Mya P.

      If a body were to be reanimated, it would be a robot, it wouldn’t be you. You are not a body, you are spirit and consciousness. Robots aren’t conscious, they don’t have a spirit. It amazes me that people see the world as only material. Sad.

      • Leonardo Carneiro

        You should read a article from Tim, discussing what’s make you you. It’s not a simple question.

      • wobster109

        Hi Mya P, I’m curious why you think so. Why would my body be a robot, especially since it’s still my flesh-and-bone body? Or even if it were a robot body, I have a brain that thinks and loves and dreams. Why can’t it keep doing those things? What do you mean by spirit, and why can’t robots be conscious? As Robert Kennedy said, “I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

      • greenrepublicratertarian

        And you know this for certain how? Maybe our perception of consciousness is just the result of neural connections. But I’m glad you have it a figured out.

      • Panagiotis Zervogiannis

        Hahaha Mya you really made wobster’s point! There is a thought provoking post on consciousness on this blog by the way…

    • Anon

      I’m not optimistic about the success probabilities of cryonics, but people should certainly be allowed to spend their own money on it.

      That said, I do see a discrepancy: Why stop with cryonics? There is more you can do to make your survival more probable and/or complete:

      – leave pictures of your physical appearance
      – leave voice recordings
      – leave a LOUDLY EXPRESSED WISH to be restored/reconstructed at precisely as possible by future technology, even if it is incomplete
      – leave detailled descriptions of your most important opinions and memories
      – leave a detailled formal biography with documents about your whereabouts in the past
      – leave documentation of your social circle and its dynamic development, including a diary of your day-to-day experiences with other people
      – leave the best brain scans money can buy (repeat this when the tech gets better)
      – leave detailled medical records
      – leave your DNA

      Cryonics people seem to stop at being frozen. But these things make it far more probable that a version of you will be reconstructed in the future, and that it will be a more accurate reconstruction of you. And whatever cryonics optimists can expect, it will never be more than a reconstruction because the freezing and restoration process will certainly destroy *some* information. (Technically, even normal survival is only partial, because you always lose some memories, or microaspects of your personality change over time)

    • impfireball

      Well if you’re a corpse when you commit to the deed, why does it matter? Some people are just traditionalist, and have cremation/burial deep in the brain.


    As a Tamil born in Hindi-speaking Delhi and having attended an English medium school,I’m lucky to have had the best of several cultures and the ability to speak 4 languages(French as well!) but after more than 3 decades of living in the North(Hindi speakers) and 5 years in the West of India,I’m still asked sterotyped racist,casteist,linguistic questions such as “do I support the LTTE in Sri Lanka?Can I write / speak Hindi?why have I never tasted meat or fish? or even worse ‘you’re not as dark skinned as the most Southies are…..'” etc.

    A lot of it is offensive but the need to educate children on such racial,casteist epithets just doesn’t seem to exist in India where the emphasis is more on the rote method of shoving Pythagoras’ theorems and Newtonian laws down the tiny tots’ throats.Most teachers would gently chide a child rather than call up his/her parents and investigate the causes of such remarks/behaviour.

    • impfireball

      Oh, that’s all coming from children? Yeah, children are just ignorant. All you have to hope is that they change.

  • Borja Germain de Solís

    I’m Spanish, so there are plenty (mostly like in any other nationality, I guess):

    -Spain is not Mexico. They’re two different countries located in two different continents. Seriously people, get your facts straights.

    -Most Spaniards have never been to a bullfighting spectacle, nor they do enjoy it. In fact, it is forbidden in some areas of the country (Catalonia). I went once, didn’t like it but wouldn’t ban it either.

    -Not everywhere in Spain is sunny all the time. In fact, we have one of the sunniest cities in Europe (Almería) and one of the rainiest cities in Europe (Santiago). The weather is very good, and mostly sunny in the South, but in the Northwest it is almost as shitty as in the UK.

    -Madrid isn’t an ugly city full of concrete blocks. Actually, it is quite beautiful. I encourage you to visit it.

    -Not all Basques and Catalans hate Spain and want to break up with Spain. At the very least, 40% don’t (and I’m being conservative, probably it is about 60% or so).

    -Ibiza is in Spain and it is NOT just “party island”. You can go there, don’t step into any club and have a wonderful time, because it is a VERY beautiful island. I go there every summer, love the island and don’t like club. Speaking of which:

    -The Balearic Islands ARE NOT the Caribbean. Oh, and it can freaking cold there in the winter. And

    -The Palma de Mallorca airport is, during summertime, the airport with most aerial traffic in Europe. No shit.

    -Oh, and one piece of advice: you shouldn’t die without visiting the Alhambra (in Granada). Honest to God, I think it is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been to more than 50 countries).

    I’m sure there are many more, but these are the ones at the top of my head right now. Feel free to ask any questions. 😉

    • Lee

      Have u been to Zimbabwe?

      • Borja Germain de Solís

        Nope. I’m sorry, and it wasn’t my intention to stereotype. But I have friends and family living in Sub-Saharian Africa, some of them working at NGOs, and I know how the situation is there: nothing even remotely similar to the poorest countries in Europe.

    • impfireball

      1. Only in america do they think spain is mexico. And people that watch too much american media. 😛

      3. Kinda like north america. 🙂

  • Nola Wedeen

    I’m fifty-five (55) years old and I hate that people are always trying to show me how to use technology. I know how to use it … I sat down at a computer for the first time in 1978 … it was a mainframe. The first computer I owned was a Tandy Radioshack 8086 with a 32 megabyte harddrive. I ran my own computer graphics company from 1994 – 2000 and I currently own 2 laptops, an ebook, and a smartphone. I play GW2 and can make you look fabulous in Photoshop … I don’t need your help – unless I ask for it. Really.

    • Ivan S

      Can you make me look fabulous in Photoshop, please? I want to look fabulous but don’t know how to Photoshop.

    • impfireball

      Well I guess if computers is your job, then it must be kind of weird to have people think you don’t know shit about computers. 😛

  • Karen

    I was brought up with no religion, and I’m an atheist. People think of atheism as anti-religion, but for me and my siblings anyway, it’s simply that we’ve never needed a religion or belief in higher power to understand life. We live happy lives, trying to be helpful, loving, curious people – we don’t tell others what to believe or how to live their lives, but we are frequently targets of people trying to save us or angry that we don’t believe in their god(s).

    • wobster109

      I’ve had dear, well-meaning friends ask me why atheists are so angry, and most that I know are not angry. But I do know some that are, and I think it’s because they are bullied day after day in big and small ways. In middle school my classmates called me names and threatened me with hell, and the teachers watched and did nothing. Friends call me “militant” at the slightest mention of my beliefs, politicians accuse me of being un-American in their speeches, polls show me to be as trustworthy as rapists, and dates’ parents worry about their family dating me. It’s a constant stream of insults from all sources near and far.

      And I know that doesn’t make it right to be angry, and plenty of atheists are incredibly nice and patient even when faced with the vilest insults. But I ask people who encounter defensive atheists to be sympathetic. It’s hard to be scorned every day of your life.

      • Karen

        I remember being shocked hearing the ‘as trusted as rapists’ reports – I don’t understand the connection. If someone does something good to please a god, I’m not sure that’s as trustworthy as someone who does something good because it’s the right thing to do, whether or not they believe in a god.

        • impfireball

          But god is the source of all good and fuzzy and warm things in da world, so therefore atheists aren’t trustworthy because they don’t believe in him. Thought patterns change.

      • impfireball

        Sounds kinda miserable. Time to move to Canada. 😀

    • tank girl

      Thanks for this, Karen! I am also an atheist. I chose atheism after being subjected to religion at a young age and seeing the horrific/hypocritical things the congregation and (for lack of a better term) clergy did outside of church. I don’t condemn religion, nor do I condemn those who choose to believe. Yet, I have been condemned by total strangers for not choosing to blindly follow what they have chosen as their way of life. I’ve been shouted at, told I’m going to their hell, been ‘blessed’ by them and told that they will pray for my soul, had their literature crammed in my mailbox and through my door, had old men bring little girls to my door in -35 weather in order to attempt to manipulate me into letting them in my house. Seeing these behaviours simply makes me sad. It is not necessary to embrace religion in order to live a fulfilling and happy life. We each need to find our own path on this little shiny blue planet of ours. My path simply is without religion.

  • ValleyGirl

    I really want to add something to this discussion because I really like the topic but I can’t because I’m a straight white woman with pretty good looks. I will never complain about anything again, EVER.

    • impfireball

      You’ll think of something eventually. 😛

  • sadguy

    good with school and maths, white, straight, male, tall, relatively good looking, not a terrible musician, and financially stable, but i’m very unhappy with my life for no particular reason despite my inability to complain about anything.

    • korakys

      That empty space inside you is probably a lack of community.

    • Pearline Mannikam

      hi there
      just saw your post now, not sure how things are going for you but seems like you’re coasting along. Not doing badly but not doing great either. I’d say that emptiness comes from not being happy just leading an average life. There might be things you want to do or accomplish or overcome. Start a list of little things. Like “5 things to do before I die”, “5 places to visit in the next 5 years”. Or make a commitment to do something different/ new every day – like take yourself to a movie. Go for a walk down a new street. Try a new vegetable. etc. all the best!

    • steve ohhh

      Lots and lots of white people are unhappy with their lives. Don’t buy into the B.S. that your life is good because of your skin color or gender.

    • Vin

      Gen Y yuppies article

  • Julia

    I am a short Asian female and people tend to not take me seriously, especially in cases of leadership, until after they have seen me in action, and even then, I don’t have the “look” of someone they would take seriously. I can’t tell if it’s an Asian female thing or a female thing or maybe even a short person thing, but it’s definitely a thing.

    Gets kind of infuriating to be treated dismissively and also without appreciation.

    • Annie

      Girl, I feel you. I’m 4′ 10 and it’s really annoying when people don’t take me seriously, especially if I’m angry. They’re all like “Calm down, shorty.” But just remember that I am the perfect height to punch you in the crotch.

      • impfireball

        Hoo-ha! Block fu!

    • James

      I’d say its a height thing, not a gender or race thing. I feel like a short white male would have trouble being taken seriously too

      • SelectFromWhere

        But it’s much worse for a short woman, especially a petite one. I am a tall male and I can easily see this.

        • impfireball

          Because you have a bias, that’s why you see it.
          I see that god is real, so I perceive atheists as ignorant and evil. See? It’s not hard, it’s my brain telling me! Thing is, we don’t actually have free will (or else we’d just will ourselves out of every awkward situation, and become mentally unblemished and perfect), so it helps to perceive things based on facts and sourced evidence… rather than every article in the news referring to the same statistic over and over; in reality, a proper grounding for evidence would involve multiple different statistics from different study groups.

    • Leonardo Carneiro

      My wife is a medical doctor, and she has the same problem (although she’s not asian). The nurses and even some pacients do not take she for real, and sometimes she has to be rude to be accepted.

      She hates this, because she has a very gentle manner, and this people forces she to behave in a horrible way to get the work done.

      • Daniela

        I’m an MD too and that happens a lot! Sometimes nurses just don’t care what I ordered and patients call me “Miss” instead. But male doctors get called “Dr” and their orders are followed without any comment.
        And that’s when we start being mean and getting really angry. Not good.

      • impfireball

        Some women can get respect. The women that also try to be empathetic and liked by others, are quiet and cute, are the ones that don’t also get respect (“You can’t have the cake and eat it.”). The women that are flirty but are also loud and teasing, tend to get a little more respect. The same even applies to men, though maybe on a more diminished level? Especially if the guy is tall and strong looking.

        It’s usually a personality thing, more than an outright cut-and-dry sexist thing. Our society expects certain personalities out of people that are deemed ‘respectable’ or ‘intimidating’.

        I can’t think of examples off the top of my head, but if you look at it in that context, you might share my opinion. I also recommend being aware of any preconcieved bias you have before entering into a study. Too many people have the ‘gendered’ attitude, that gender plays the biggest role into it, or that it’s ‘social gender’, and that that somehow acts as the foundation.

  • Tara Southwell

    I’m a redhead. Apparently, that’s a big deal. Since the day I was born I can’t go out in public without someone commenting on it. “I love your hair!” “Redheads are crazy! Like, leave-a-dead-animal-on-your-car crazy.” “Redheads are sexy.” “Redheads have hot tempers.” Etc. I donate my hair, so every time I cut it there’s a public outcry, and every time I let it grow out there’s an outpouring of public approval, and the few times I’ve colored my hair it’s turned into a Blitzkrieg of “But I love your natural color!” I am not Kim Kardashian. I don’t make life choices based on what the rest of humanity thinks.

    • impfireball

      Wonder why redheads have hot tempers? Is it because they get too much attention? Hrrrmmm…. *impfireball’s investigation was closed after promptly being murdered by a redhead*

  • Ravion

    I’m bisexual which is fun ^^ but unlike most people, I don’t feel the NEED have a partner for a few reasons:

    1. I feel it’s more trouble than it’s worth (dating,time,money)
    2. I’m introverted and am comfortable alone
    3. I’m not “romantic” I treat everyone the same way
    4. I’m satisfied by myself (you get the point)

    Really the only way I could ever be in a relationship like that would be a friends “with benefits” scenario but I’m not actively looking for someone so the likely hood of finding a person that treats it as casually as me and finding that out about them is pretty unlikely. Because traditional “loouuuuvvveee” is something where people are unrealistic with each other, obsess over each other, and buy worthless expensive things that are supposed to mean something mystical, I don’t see myself being in any relationship for a long time and probably my whole life. But whatevs… to me I’m fine wizit. Bi everyone! 😛 (heh see what I did there? okay yea I’m horrible I’ll go now)

  • sportibus

    I grew up with two cultural backgrounds, the funny thing is, that (especially in Europe) people usually assume that you favour one culture/nation etc (most of the time not the current majority – depending on where you are at the moment). For some reason it seems easier to clasify me as “the other, with some kind of connection to us – though not really” than just “part of us – with some sort of additional connection”. This gets particularly bad when it comes to football (soccer), when no matter in which country you are people give you the feeling that you put them in an akward siutation because they have to ask whom you are cheering for (not if the two countries play against each other, that I would understand, no when one country place against a third country). it’s really weird, and people feel uncertain about that.

  • Hannah

    I am a white, blond woman who just happens to have been bestowed with big lips and a big butt, which are actually pretty common traits among the women in my German/Polish family. Other than being overly sexualized and objectified on an almost daily basis (catcalls=no), people often like to comment with surprise and fascination about my body type. Comments like “You’ve got a black girl booty!” and “black girl lips!” are not only offensive to me but also demeaning and incredibly stereotypical to black women as well. Black women come in just as many shapes as white women and any other woman in the world. I find it doubly offensive to black women because I often get the impression that people view it as more impressive or even positive that I, a white woman, has that body type as opposed to a black woman. And no, I am not mixed, not even way way way back there somewhere (actual question, what?!)

  • autheclified

    People assume I’m straight (because I’m femme) and when I say I’m not they assume I’m a lesbian (which I am not)
    Okay this only happened once or twice but I think it’s funny how worked up people get about this. If you don’t know a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, politely ask.
    Since “society is like a couple who doesn’t communicate”, I think we should normalize ASKING.

    • Guest

      So what does that leave, then? Bi or asexual?

      • DeeDee Massey

        Or pansexual….

      • autheclified

        Pansexual actually, but I personally don’t differ much between pan and bi, so whatever…

    • impfireball

      Better not offend Mr Straightface, he’s got very furrowed eyebrows. >:l

  • Ravion

    I’m bisexual which is fun ^^ but unlike most people, I don’t feel the NEED have a partner for a few reasons:

    1. I feel it’s more trouble than it’s worth (dating,time,money)
    2. I’m introverted and am comfortable alone
    3. I’m not “romantic” I treat everyone the same way
    4. I’m satisfied by myself (you get the point)

    Really the only way I could ever be in a relationship like that would be a friends “with benefits” scenario but I’m not actively looking for someone so the likelihood of finding a person that treats it as casually as me and finding that out about them is pretty unlikely. Because traditional “loouuuuvvveee” is something where people are unrealistic with each other, obsess over each other, and buy worthless expensive things that are supposed to mean something mystical, I don’t see myself being in any relationship for a long time and probably my whole life. But whatevs… to me I’m fine wizit.

    Then again I don’t represent everyone but it’s generally assumed if you aren’t asexual you want a relationship (so I guess It has less to do with being bisexual than that) But anyway Bi everyone! 😛 (heh see what I did there? okay yea I’m horrible I’ll go now)

    Sorry for re post, accidental image down here ( nothing inappropriate I promise x) )

    • James

      That didn’t answer the dinner table topic at all…

      • Ravion

        Whatcha mean?

      • Madame Blue

        What about the Young & Single demographic? Or even just Single? The assumption is that you want to date, find a partner, etc, and well-meaning friends and relatives try to fix you up with someone. Like you’re somehow broken. The truth is, some people just aren’t interested.

    • Peter

      I feel the same way! 1, 2, 3 and 4. I’m not bisexual. So your post is really something people assume about *everybody* (everyone wants/needs/desires a relationship) whereas that’s not true.

      • Ravion

        Thanks =) yeah realized it was an “everybody” assumption so it’s not really that much of a demographic. Guess it’s more addressing that you don’t have to be an asexual to not need/want a relationship.

        • Peter

          Indeed! That’s an assumption made about all us non-asexuals out there 🙂

    • impfireball

      I’m an introvert too, and I try to pick the people I’m able to make friends with, but I have a lot of trouble controlling that*. I also like to spend my whole day inside on the computer.

      Society doesn’t really appreciate that sort of thing, and I’m like ‘fuck you’.

      I don’t think treating certain people special makes you ‘romantic’. It just makes you enclosed.

      *Yeah, I like to have adult cliques, like in highschool. Nah, but I often fear the situation where I meet someone that won’t leave me alone. I could see it mostly happening at work or with old friends.

  • Annie

    I’m 15 and whenever people think of teenagers, they usually think “Oh shit. Here come the surly, back-talking, uncooperative, hormonal disrespectful, over-grown children who think they’re adults.”
    And some of it’s true. I acknowledge that I can be surly, back-talking, uncooperative etc. etc. But seriously, it’s not like I’m out to get pregnant, do shots, and try as many drugs as possible.

    -That’s only on Tuesdays.
    (Oh hi mom, if you’re reading this, I was joking I swear. Please don’t ground me.)

  • SelectFromWhere

    I’ve posted the more “major” demographics I belong to that are stereotyped, but just realized another one:
    I am unquestionably a “Night Person”.

    This does not mean I am “lazy”, it does not mean I am out all night partying or too un-self-disciplined to go to bed on time (though it makes it HARD to go to bed at the “conventional” time when I am at my most alert and rarin’-to-go from 10 PM to midnight), and it does not mean I am still trying to live like a college student at my age (more than double college-age). It makes doing anything in the early morning (and my definition of “early” is much later than yours) very difficult. In fact, even when I was looking for jobs to get out of desperate situations at work, I knew there was no point in even considering jobs that required me to be there at 8 AM every day. 8:30 is the absolute earliest I could even consider on a regular basis and 9:00 is my preference (you know, “9-to-5” job?? So how come every job presumes you will start at 8??). Yes, I can drag in at 8 every now and then for a meeting, but what’s wrong with a little flexibility in employees’ work schedules? I am still at work at 6 or 6:30 PM when those morning people are all at home on their second glass of wine.

    At one point, I went through training to become a high school teacher. It was not for me, for a number of reasons, and I am thankful every day that I’m not in what is becoming the most unrespected profession on earth (different rant), but the fact that most teacher have to be at work by 7:15 or so, and get up around 5:30, means I never would have lasted, even if I had found it my chosen calling.

    It also means that “sleeping in” on weekend for me is much later than most people, because I get to stay up “late” which for me means 3 AM or so. It is the most peaceful time of day and when I do most of my creative thinking. But don’t expect me to meet you at the Farmer’s Market at 8:30 Saturday morning–or even 10:00!

    Nevertheless, there are still side-eyes when I come in to work at 9:30 (we are allowed where I work to come as late as that, and we of course stay a full 8 hours) and I have to just give up on some weekend activities, like a regular sports league that practices at 9:30 AM, for example. And, while I’m not religious, I would like to join a nondenominational church (Unitarian, etc) for the good works they do AND because I love singing in choirs, but as long as “church” means “Sunday morning”, I will never commit to such an activity.

    • DeeDee Massey

      Some churches these days post videos of each service online, so you can view it anytime you want. If you can’t join the choir for morning services, perhaps the director will still welcome you to practices, which are usually held on evenings, so you can still sing and that can be your form of worship and fellowship time. Plus, maybe you can still participate in special performances that are held at later times in the day. If your church has Wednesday night services without the full complement of a choir, maybe they will allow you to perform a song….

  • Bob w

    I’m short, fat, bald, ugly and lazy. People can’t get over how hot my wife is.

  • Lindsey

    I’m a teenager and the world seems to love to define us as self-abosorbed, lazy and in general bad people when really we are not. We are trying to figure out a digital, global world that our parents never had to deal with.

  • AprilO

    I realize this is late, but I was reading an essay by Sarah Vowell today (one of my all time favorite authors) and she touched on a stereotype that always rankles when brought up: what it is to live and be from California.

    Maybe it’s because I grew up in the northern part of the state, although I’ve gone south to visit San Francisco and Sacramento often enough (and down to San Diego exactly once, or maybe it’s because of a conversation I had with a co-worker last night where he was valuing regionalism over nationalism… I’m just so sick of the way California (and Californians) are portrayed, as if the whole state is SF and LA. One of the things I think is most remarkable about this state is how diverse it is, in people and in landscape. I think it can be hard sometimes for people who don’t live here to understand the vast amounts of often mostly empty land between the big cities, we have the coast, but we also have the Sierras, the desert, the redwood forest, and the sprawling Cental Valley. Oddly, one of the few somewhat more accurate representations of CA I’ve seen is GTA5, where sure, you spend more time in the city portion, but as you travel up the map you see the desert, the tiny hick towns, and finally the rainy woods approximating where I live.

    And the people here, while I can’t speak as much for SoCal, are incredibly diverse. We’re not all hippies or blond beach babes, but they’re here too. And although I don’t think it’s the worst stereotype, not everyone here is attractive. If you can walk around a town and not spot old people, people with health problems, people with obvious drug problems, and the homeless, I don’t think you’re looking at the people around you.

    Although, in fairness, we do eat hella avocados.

  • cotpoe

    Just discovered this great site today 🙂 Thanks Tim. I guess my post is quite delayed but here’s my two bit.

    Stereotyping is a sad and tragic consequence of firstly our neuro-biology ( the brain copes up with the incredible complexity of the world by rapid categorization based on 1-2 features – pretty imp when our ancestors had to categorize predators etc in fractions of seconds). These categories stick – whether it’s for countries, social groups or anything under the sun. Secondly – our psychology – our sense of Self is dependent on defining the Other. The Ego quickly decides whether someone belongs to our group or another and this sense of Self/Other is used to provide a basis for our sense of our identity.

    As Tim said, it takes a deliberate conscious effort to move to Level 2 of our consciousness and to overcome the reflex of our Ego and our Neurobiology to perceive the world as grey, complex and interconnected. This discussion is a great way to do that.

    If you are still reading this :), the Stereotype I want to highlight is that of CHRONIC DISEASE SUFFERERS especially condition that people hardly know about like mine – Ankylosing Spondylitis – a group of insidious conditions called seronegative spondyloarthropaties – auto-immune progressive conditions that in this day and age have average diagnosis period of over 5-7 years!!! And they mostly affect people in the 20-30 age group. I was 24 when I was diagnosed in 2011. 20 odd genes and complex environmental interactions in cause with no cure – everything is essentially learn and you go along.

    Briefly – in my condition, the immune system progressively destroys and fuses the spine, hip joint and possibly other joints. Other systemic places attacked are eyes and lungs and heart in later stages. There is mind-numbing fatigue – the tiredness you feel at the end of 16 hour days – you feel it all the time. The pain and stiffness and swelling becomes unbearable. There are flares and remissions and a cat and mouse game of trying out different drug combinations to subside the inflammation and considering that there hare no long term studies – you have no idea about the drug effects on disease process long term. There is a new class of drugs TNF biologics but with 1000$ per 2-weekly infusion and a host of potential long term cancer risks and obvious financial costs when you by luck of draw don’t happen to be lucky to live in a country with national healthcare system. There are good days and back days – so you have no clue how to arrange your schedule. Some weeks you can be close to normal and following that when it’s acting up you can’t get the energy to get out of bed.

    This is a short sample of the incredible complex balancing you have to do to deal with such conditions and that so in your 20s!! – a time when the body is supposed to be your buddy to use and abuse at will and medical costs, limitations ( can’t hike, play impact sports or run) – can’t handle high demanding career is not supposed to enter your calculations. And don’t get me started on the potential for normal relationships.

    The problem I want to highlight is a paradoxical one. The First stereotype I want to highlight is about Pity.

    The Body is an incredible fragile delicate piece of evolutionary marvel and you should thank the Gods and probabilities that you lucked out to get a good one. I didn’t. That’s okay. Sometimes we are miserable and curse, mostly you adapt and accept the situations – humans have tremendous capacity to change their perceptions of what a “normal” day looks like. The people close to you – if they happen to be nice – will be sympathetic for you. The issue comes when one gets treated as if they WERE their conditon. We are not our bodies! – I happen to have AS but while it’s a life-long companion and room-mate, it’s not me! Frankly – lot of time people don’t know how to treat fellow humans with complex medical shit and disabilities. You know underneath whatever malfunctioning body they might have – there is still a full-package human – with life stories, values, internal growth and everything else. So – it’s good to get help when needed and I will do my best to reciprocate in other ways, we are not our medical conditions! so talk normally.

    The Second Stereotype is the opposite one – the society has the stereotype of the Healthy 20 something. Lot of chronic conditions are little known ( there are AS patients who wished they had cancer to get more understanding from other people) and we don’t LOOK sick. You cannot differentiate me from a random Healthy 29 year old on the public transport. That does not mean that we are frauds or lying when we say we would be unable to vacate a seat for a 50 year old lady. Or that we are just “lazy” to do work. Or just “unreliable” as our schedules are not static but dependent on how we are feeling that – try explaining that to your boss if you happen to have a clockwork job. I don’t live in a country with any social security – but in countries that do have them, you have chronic patients who are unable to work but LOOK okay unable to get their disability benefits because normal people don’t know about your condition (- the first I heard of Seronegative Ankylosing Spondyloarthoparthy was when I was diagnosed with it). And for those who are lucky to get it – you have the negative image of a “young lazy god for nothing”.

    The problem with a chronic disease when you are young is not simply medical – no matter how complex that side may be. Lot of it is social and psychological ( and don’t even get started on financial). It’s bad enough to luck out with random medical shit out of nowhere in the prime of your life, its another whole mental pit – where either your entire external identity is submerged and sidelined as compared to your condition or worse when doubts are cast upon your character and the Stereotype either treats your as a dishonest fraud.

    My apologies for the verbosity of my post. Though on the bright side – in the crucibles of such extenuating circumstances – when external life hits a big speed bumper conditions are provided for great inner reflection, introspection and detached observation and you learn a lot about yourself and the world 🙂 and opens up new paths which one never imagined. We are all here for a 100 odd year blip of existence road trip – so what if we may have a bit of a faulty car – the meaning is internal and the view is around us – not in the illusionary destination we are speeding to. Cheers

    • James

      Thank you for writing out your post, it is very clear from it how intelligent and self-aware you are. You seem to have a very positive outlook on your condition, which I applaud, being happy or sad is a choice and you’ve obviously made your choice. It hit close to home because my little sister was diagnosed with severe JRA and epilepsy at a young age(among a host of other health problems/disabilities). JRA has a lot in common with what you described. I wish I could connect you with her. Good luck in all your endeavors!

      • cotpoe

        Hi James. Thanks for the good wishes. If we just remember that none of us know ( or can even possibly comprehend) the enormity of the paradox that is existence/non-existence and sentience – we all are really kids on a playground – no clue how the playground was made j,ust playing for joy and growth in the short duration we are here ( cotpoe – Child on the Playground of Existence – that’s the framework I made when I was in the bed ridden stage pit of despair – which looking back was an incredible phase of inner understanding, a blog like waitbutwhy or writing some book is a bucket list dream) – the transient nature of our existence evokes sadness yet at the same time it gives profound freedom. If we can remember that it’s seems nonsensical to not have deep empathy for our fellow playground fellows and all the ego mess seems trivial. If we can internalize such Truths that our neurobiology and psychology tries desperately to shove under the bed ( Terror management as they say) – in our own unique ways – every response becomes a matter of choice -as you mentioned above. Faced with the enormity of the Truth, a positive freeing outlook ( like that of a child at play) is the only sensible one – summarily if life is a precious fragile transient gift – then whatever mess happens to us in our lifetimes is trivial so why not be positive and joyful and have equanimity in face of everything – difficult to put into practice but worth practicing!. While I am alive, I might as well be happy ( well more like wry amusement in detached observation and childish joy hehe :))

        I have deep profound sympathy for your sister. She has it way way worse than me. That’s what makes it easy to be positive – realizing how small your struggles are as compared to another. Stay strong buddy – I have been on the opposite side ( my mum is quite sick) and it’s another struggle with helplessness when a loved one is suffering – sometimes it’s easier to be the patient. My positive outlook is the result of a 7 year dark internal journey but having been through it I try my best to help others. If you truly think I could help your sister in some small capacity let me know. It would be my honor and privilege. Rather I think she would have a lot to teach me about strength and resilience. Best wishes with everything mate. Fair Winds.

  • Jan Hunt

    As a parenting counselor and author, I often write about age discrimination of children – the one demographic group that is still waiting for their rights to be recognized. They have little power in our society, because they lack the knowledge and experience to stand up for themselves. This is the group that should have been recognized and protected first, but will be last. So far, 47 countries have banned corporal punishment of childen, but it is still OK in North America to hit them in the name of “discipline”, while hitting an adult is a crime:

    I hope Tim can write about this topic!

    Here are some of my articles:

    “No Room for Kids”

    Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children

    “Age Discrimination Endangers Human Rights for Young and Old Alike”

    Jan Hunt
    Natural Child Project

    • cotpoe

      Great point! In the final arbitration, a civilization can only be objectively judged by how it treats its children – the next generation and future of the species as well as the conscience keepers of our joy,innocence and whimsical qualities that make us a curious, exploring intuitive sentient being. No excuses are admissible – oh that random street kid is in a different country etc, oh that random kid is in the middle of war-zone in middle East or is suffering from chronic malnutrition in Africa or oh that kid in some sweat shop in a poor country is working 16 hours on a pittance because after all we have this wonderful system where we consider short term profits the highest good. No excuse of social,economic,political systems are ultimately admissible. Usually no one with normal empathy discriminates against children in person ( the neurobiological protective instincts thankfully dominate usually) but when narrow-minded cold,logical calculations are made at systemic levels at all stages, short-term interests usually end up badly discriminating against the very long term future of our species – the current kids and the unborn generations to come.

      • Dana

        You’ve obviously never had children, or if you have you’re one of those parents that irritate everyone around you by letting your monkeys run rampant with no more than a word and a furled brow. There is NO WAY to raise a child properly through the language development phase without a smack on the hand or buttocks when defiance is expressed. WE are the parents and thus, not the equals. They don’t get the same voice because we are responsible for them as well as their actions. They are minors, as expressed specifically in the law. There is no rule book for parenting anywhere on nature, but all creatures seem to pull it off just fine without your intervention. Kindly silence yourself.

        • cotpoe

          Dana We are talking about completely different things. You are talking about parental responsibility to raise children who are balanced individuals – I completely agree with your point there. Proper boundaries have to be set for them. It is the parents who teach children concepts of fairness,sharing, moderation, being good etc. Apart from basic instincts, children are blank slates really molded by their environment.

          My point on the other hand, if you read my reply above please was about the heinous crimes done against children – war crimes – children are the most vulnerable in conflict zones, child abuse in different forms – from child labour to abhorrent sexual abuse and the lack of adequate basics – food,shelter,education which a significant percentage of children go through – street children etc. I was castigating about the fact that any power/authority is ultimately judged by how it treats the most vulnerable groups at its mercy. Children are the most vulnerable group of our species and hence sadly the sufferers of much of the mess of our civilization.

          • impfireball

            So? There’s plenty of charities for you to throw money at.

            ‘Think of the children’ is a slogan that has literally been going on since the 70s. Fourty fucking years, which is probably double your age.

            • Toots

              Is a fucking year longer or shorter than an Earth year?

      • impfireball

        How poetically whimsical and meaningless. 🙂

    • impfireball

      So if a kid has a temper tantrum, what should the parent do? Just put up with it? Kids can be sociopathic assholes, and they have to be taught ethics. If not words, then physical punishment. It’s just part of the human condition. We’re primates.

      I don’t understand what about this is so hard for the SJWs on here to understand?

      Once a kid learns to be responsible, they will enjoy social equality. Yes, parents can be abusive, and can dismiss an older kid as simply ‘not responsible enough for X or Y privilege’, but it’s rather shakey ground.

      Some parents are overly strict, I agree with that. But when it comes to YOUNG kids… c’mon. Think about it a little more, that’s all I’m saying.

      • Zeb

        Annoying behavior may require consequences. It does not follow that those consequences have to involve violence. There are plenty of ways to subdue a toddler that don’t involve hitting them.

  • Sue B.

    I have one too: widows. When people hear I’m a widow, they immediately take a pity stance. “Oh you poor dear.” “Are you looking for another man?” “You must be so sad alone.” “Are you planning on marrying again?” My husband died of a long battle with cancer and we knew it was coming. He isn’t in pain any longer and we’re not watching him suffer each and every day. I’m happy I had that chapter in my life but that chapter is done. I’m happy now and will continue to be happy. There isn’t really a need to have pity on me. I am grateful for the sentiments but.. we are definitely misunderstood at times.

  • Delilah J.

    In the discrimination corner, you’ve got your LGBT, your women etc. But you also have your under 21s.
    ooh shocker. a child
    Doesn’t that change your opinion of what I have said, and whatever I’m going to say?

    I have known many a time when people have shushed me when I try to offer my opinion, replying with the asinine response
    “this topic is too adult for you”
    What’s so ‘mature’ about taxes? or jobs?
    Is the concept of it so complex that no person under 18, under 21, can understand it?
    and suddenly, by some magic spell, when they are deemed an adult, they are finally worthy of expressing an opinion without it being waved away.

    I am sick and tired of the stereotype I face everyday. That I’m not mature enough, that my words are downplayed as teenage ranting or hormones when I’m particularly aggressive and passionate about something. This, to me I feel, is one of the least recognised stereotype.
    I’m hoping that the comments(if there are any), will not be about me being immature and not understanding my place in society, that age comes with maturity, or that i haven’t had enough life experience to know what I’m talking about.
    I will make a concession, to some extent maturity is linked with age. Learning is a process that children will undergo slowly. But, like adults, some children spurt out weird things, black coals if I may, But sometimes, if the internet community really sifts it out, there are some real gems out there from children.
    Teenagers aren’t always right, but I think that we can be. We’re growing, and wanting to express our opinion is part of our growing process,part of us gaining and expressing maturity.
    So don’t sell us short just because we aren’t always right.
    Because no one is.

    Teens like me, who aren’t afraid to be intellectually challenged, yet laugh at the 10 types of friendships that you’ll experience, so please, give us a chance.
    I am a teenager.
    I have no say in my own maturity and opinions because society knows me better than myself.
    If I were 31 years old, would you take my words more seriously?

    • impfireball

      If you were 31? No. Everyone knows this already.

  • antinea

    I am a 35-year old woman who does ballet. It’s not my job, but I take it very seriously and I hope to be a ballet teacher once.
    Talking about ballet with strangers is annoying. People just want to make the unfunny jokes I’ve heard a thousand times and ask the stupid questions that would have been redundant after a single moment of actual thought. I get that people want to make idle chitchat, or don’t care about ballet. It just makes me not want to talk about it with in a social setting when people don’t care to fix their misconceptions.
    I once gave a presentation about classical ballet, and it started with all the stereotypes and prejudice about this artform.

    1. you must be really thin, or suffering from anorexia, in order to practice ballet (i’m muscular AND overweight.)

    2. you must be really flexible (i BECAME flexible through hard work)

    3. you always wear a tutu (I’ve never worn a tutu)

    4. you always wear pointe shoes (i wear them maybe 15% of the time, and only started pointework at an advanced level)

    5. you’re admiring yourself in the mirror the whole time in balletclass (i look at myself rarely and only to check if my lines are correct)

    6. the only goal of each balletclass is an upcoming performance (most classes is just working on technique and not learning repertoire for a performance)

    7. all amateur ballet dancers want to be a professional, and older amateurs were frustrated in that process (i want to be a professional ballet teacher, yes, but for most people it’s just a hobby)

    8. all male ballet dancers are gay (really, people, is this still a stereotype in 2015?!)

    Also I could explain why you wear your hair in a bun, why it’s useful to have a basic understanding of music, etc. I’m happy to explain, but some of the questions are so very stupid.

  • impfireball

    I project myself as a napkin, and other people won’t acknolwedge it! Ahm so oppressed.

    • Cankrist

      I project myself as a Strawman, and get blown away by the winds of my own ability to oh-so-cleverly mock legitimate issues. I just don’t see why everyone hates me for it :((

  • Chizzy Peace

    Hello I am CHIZZY PEACE ,I am out here to spreed this good news to the entire world on how I got my ex love back.I was going crazy when my love left me for another girl last month, But when i meet a friend that introduce me to DR ADAGBA the great messenger to the oracle that he serve,I narrated my problem to Dr Adagba about how my ex love left me and also how i needed to get a job in a very big company.He only said to me that i have come to the right place were i will be getting my heart desire without any side effect.He told me what i need to do,After it was been done,In the next 2 days,My love called me on the phone and was saying sorry for living me before now and also in the next one week after my love called me to be pleading for forgiveness,I was called for interview in my desired company were i needed to work as the managing director..I am so happy and overwhelmed that i have to tell this to the entire world to contact DR ADAGBA at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct on: adagbaspiritualtemple@yahoo.com. and get your problems solve like me….. ONCE AGAIN HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS: adagbaspiritualtemple@yahoo.com

  • Bercel KyBer

    I am a black woman.

    1.) No, I do not have children.
    2.) I grew up with both biological parents in my home. They have been married for over 30 years.
    3.) It is not a surprise that I am “well spoken”. Please don’t act like it is strange for a black person to speak intelligently.
    4.) I do not commit crimes.
    5.) I do not live in government housing.
    6.) “Wow, you don’t SOUND/ACT black!” is actually an insult and not a compliment. Think about it.
    7.) I am not a good singer or dancer.
    8.) Having a strong opinion about a topic doesn’t make me “angry.”.
    9.) “I don’t even seen you as black.” Why? Are you visually impaired?
    10.) There is no such thing as “black culture.” All blacks do not reside in the same countries, which means that our cultures will not all be the same.
    11.) Black people can ski, play tennis and even ride horses.

    • AngelKD

      Finally, someone who gets it. Number 10 drives me made. I am always reading about this and that (things like rap, jazz and twerking) coming from “black culture”. People complaining that these things are bad or that white people “stole” them. Goddamit there is a whole world of people and cultures beyond the USA you know? You wouldn’t call white American culture “white culture” why is it okay to suddenly assume that all black people are the same as black Americans?

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