Sunday, July 4, 2010

Annoying People

I think I hate people. At least I hate too many to consider myself a decent human. What's the acceptable 'like to hate' ratio anyway? I need some metrics. Isn't it like 10:1 or something? That can't be right. It's not okay to hate 10% of my planet-mates. 20:1? 50:1? Somebody tell me what's allowed!

It's not that I hate everyone, just certain flavors of people. It's like ice cream. You could chill with Mocha Chip ice cream all day, but you'd rather stab yourself with a spoon than share a booth with Corn Ice Cream. (It's a favorite in China, and I once watched an American friend vomit after one bite of his Corn Popsicle.)

Some people taste like Corn Ice Cream. I feel guilty for cringing when they approach, but I don't know how to adjust that primary emotion. Maybe you've met them? The traditional Corn Ice Cream person for me is the kind that doesn't read social cues. Like the standard cross-your-arms, step-towards-the-door, look-at-your-watch, play-with-your-keys, cough-loudly, pick-your-nose, take-off-your-pants, run-away, scream-wildly, cues that everyone uses.

I don't know if I'm a magnet for socially awkward people or if I simply lack the gonads to tell someone that I'm not interested in listening to them ramble for twenty minutes. Whatever the reason, my blood often boils as I paste on a smile, allow my eyes to glaze over, and buckle up for the long haul.

It drives me crazy because I feel like a hostage. I'm trapped by social etiquette. I can't simply walk away while they're speaking. (Although I fantasize about it all the time). But I'm indignant because I believe they're committing an equivalent offense by disrespecting my time and refusing to play by unwritten rules.

In my experience spiritual people are the worst offenders. They're convinced that anything God related trumps conversational conventions and deserves any length of airtime. The problem is that they're floating away on some ethereal plane, entirely unaware of time and space. Inevitably, awkward nose-to-eyeball conversations ensue, where halitosis reigns supreme and clocks may as well not exist.

It's especially blood curdling when there's a condescending element to their tone. They're talking incessantly while sizing up your spirituality. They regale you with personal stories about devotions, healings, worship concerts, and celibacy. It's endless. They've got rulers out and are playing the 'whose is bigger' game with holiness. Naturally, they win.

Fortunately for me, my current level of apathy makes it so I don't care. It's pretty fantastic! I've never tried apathy before, but I highly recommend it for at least a month or two. It's terribly indulgent. Like eating too much ice cream. And inevitably you realize that it's an unacceptably selfish way to live over the long haul. Then you get back to purpose driven living and Rick Warren mails you an autographed copy of his book. And a blueprint to become the lead pastor of a mega-church. He's good like that. He can just feel it in the air. Signs the book. Mails the book. Done and done.

Not really. I have never received an autographed book from Rick Warren. I've also never met him so I don't know if he's a close-talker or conversation-monopolizer. He seems nice enough. Maybe he could write something about not hating people? The People Driven Life. I'd snap up that book in a second. No, I lied. I'd wait for someone to buy it for me.

PS - If you're wondering if I think this about you, the fact that you're wondering proves that I'm not. Don't worry, I like you.


  1. Thanks for the last line. I was wondering. :)
    I would like to try apathy for a month or two. I've dabbled a bit, but I still care too much to go all out.
    Corn ice cream sounds revolting. But highly preferable to one of the conversations you described.

  2. Oohhhh and the people who stand just one step too close to you when they are talking. And when you take a step back, they step forward. I once had a "conversation" like this and it started at one end of the room and ended at the other. GAHHH!!!!!

  3. Could you step back just a little while you're saying all this (or maybe try a wintergreen mint)?

  4. As much as I appreciate your honesty (and humor) this particular blog could make a person a little apprehensive to approach or talk to leads me to wonder if at anytime my husband and I have spoken to you (to convey encouragement or joke around) have you been thinking any of these thoughts. :) On the other hand......I guess that I will choose to live in our delusional world believing that we are enjoyable people..... *cough*

  5. I'm really sorry! I just read this blog and it sort of offended me too. I think I basically just vomited up a horrible attitude.

    My feelings were hurt a while ago and I don't think I truly forgave. It resulted in me being emotional yesterday and writing sweeping generalizations about people. I'm very sorry!

    I need to deal with the Lord about this, not make people think that I hate everyone. I really don't! I love people! I promise! I've felt so wonderfully loved and cared for by so many people! I know I don't deserve it, but I'm so grateful!

    Please don't be afraid that I'm watching my watch. I'm not. Especially in small groups where I don't feel so insecure.

  6. Here's hoping your pen runs out of ink...or your computer crashes...or your cyncism is silenced for the sake of the hearts that are breaking around you! We're the one's who keep taking steps backward, as you spew your venom of pride!

    Oh Yeah, the whispers on the other side of the room are reading the checklist...

    Criteria for narcissistic personality disorder to be diagnosed include:

    ■Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    ■Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power or beauty
    ■Believing that you are special and can associate only with equally special people
    ■Requiring constant admiration
    ■Having a sense of entitlement
    ■Taking advantage of others
    ■Having an inability to recognize needs and feelings of others
    ■Being envious of others
    ■Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

    TRhere is hope:

  7. To the anonymous list poster...

    I don't think it is a requirement to read this blog? So I don't really understand why you took the time to write negatively about it. Maybe you're bored. Whatever.

    To the blogger...

    I know how you feel. Especially about the spiritual conversationalists. :)

  8. just in case you are having corn ice cream withdrawal, they serve it at the Avon Corn Fest in August. Disgusting :)

    And thanks for the PS, yeah I was wondering, haha!

  9. Yikes. Your anons are pretty severe. I think the harshness of Anonymous is proportionate to the level of honesty you offer.

    Matt, I love this blog. It's been so refreshing to hear this kind of brutal honesty, especially from someone who's been brought up in the church. Deep down, I think everyone is narcissistic, and I think that's why Anon #2 lashed out - you must have hit a nerve. You're saying things that resonate with a lot of people in an uncomfortable way. I love that. It makes me think and examine myself, makes me feel relieved I'm not the only one in the world to think something and it makes our friend Anonymous pretty defensive.

    There's nothing more I can't stand about blogging than anonymous comments. If you have an opinion, have the guts to put your name to it.

    So all that's to say that I support you and your blog as you're sorting through yourself, the good and the bad.

  10. Anonymous List Poster made me laugh a little. Perhaps some lessons in grammar might be appropriate for him/her. Blogging is, essentially, narcissistic. We all think that our lives and thoughts are important. Matt doesn't have a personality disorder just because he's insecure.

    I think many of us have been in a social situation that we'd rather not be in. I know I can understand being trapped by social etiquette, and I'd be surprised if most other people couldn't relate to this post at least to some extent.

  11. Matt, you shouldn't feel guilty about this post. Blogs are meant to be honest revelations of a blogger's life. If people don't want to read it because they get offended, they don't have to read it. And I totally agree with a lot of what you said. I wouldn't say I HATE people. I find it frustrating that people can't understand conversational etiquette. At the same time, I know that there are children and adults who actually have some disorders, namely those on the ASD spectrum, who may be unable to operate appropriately in certain social situations. But I assume you are talking about people who have a general grasp of knowing what to do in social situations, minus following non-verbal conversational cues. And as someone who was a Communication and Writing double major, I can relate all the more to your frustrations.

  12. The people who grab my face and hold it while consuming my time... oh.... I hear the clock of my life ticking so loudly... minutes I will never retrieve. Then I remember our heavenly Father and how He lovingly listens to our whining and rambling from our air-conditioned homes on plush couches while holding the latest electronic device. Does make you think about the quality of someone else' life. You may have 'made' their day by listening or fed their suicidal feelings of self-loathing by being selfish and behaving rudely. What does it mean to "redeem the time" anyway? Isn't it the Lord who gives life and breath? Didn't we commit our life, our time to Him? Eternity awaits... what's a few minutes of listening and bad breath to one who is 'precious in His sight'? Open my eyes Lord. I want to see Jesus...... even in the annoying. Forgive me.

  13. Joseph GilchristJuly 8, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    Because you(to the second Anonymous person who is to gutless to write there name down) have never had one of these thoughts either, or have dealt with pride in any way.

  14. Matt,
    I salute you for openly writing what most of us have all thought or felt at one time or another, but not had the guts to admit. I appreciate your journey of healing and transparency. Those who have the spirit of offense are really the narcisstic ones. It likely was not even about them. How sad that your "friends" and brothers and sisters in Christ can not get beyond themselves to reach out to YOU who have poured into so many. We all have seasons of ups and downs. I stand with you brother even in your darker moments. God can not heal if it is not brought into the light. YOU ARE A PRECIOUS, AWESOME, MAN OF GOD WHO RECOGNIZES HIS NEED FOR JESUS. Glory be to Our Savior!

  15. I love the honesty. Those who are judging are not being honest if they say they haven't been in that place before. Blog on.