Every couple of months, pathopsychology if not more frequently, try a certain type of acerbic Top Ten list surfaces on the sophomoric tides of the Internet. You know what they are, nurse you’ve read them, and possibly nodded and smiled and grumbled “hear, hear!” when said lists have related to your own job or interests. I despise those lists.
The specific formula of that which I speak is “Top ten things every _______ is tired of hearing.” OK, I get it. We all have pet peeves. FAQs or comments that get under our skin. As a magician, the question “Can you make my wife disappear?” Or “I bet you get a lot of girls that way.” Or “I’m gonna take you to Vegas.” Or, or, or… The endlessly inane commentary by those thinking they’re being clever with a reactionary, novice level of creativity can be grating. But it happens across all arts, genres, jobs, and social groups. People who are not of a certain group will always have a curiosity and desire on some level to connect with that group. To fit in by either learning or pretending to know. But it does, often, stem from a mixture of curiosity and ignorance. I’m not talking about ignorance of a shallow-minded, hateful sort. I’m speaking of the kind that is simply innocent lack of knowledge. There is a distinct difference between these two ignorances, but that discussion will come at a future date.
It is an unfortunate trend that pithy, harsh, and angry responses are “cool” these days. Perhaps it’s the rapid-fire, short-attention-span nature of the Internet, along with its illusory cloak of anonymity that convinces people that they have the inconsequential freedom to be rude jackasses with poor communication skills. The truth is, these lists may do well to allow “industry folk” to let off some steam, but they do little, if anything, to convince outsiders of acting any differently. More often, they give the impression of smug arrogance of the creators of the list–or worse, of the group as a whole. If the purpose of the list is, in fact, just to complain and let off steam, so be it. But if it is in some fashion intended to actually educate anyone or expect them to follow the demands of said list, chances are high it will do more harm than good. No one likes to be told they’re doing something wrong, let alone in an insulting way. Such action merely raises defenses and creates animosity and decreased respect. Eventually, it also disintegrates curiosity. It makes people afraid to ask questions or to explore new aspects of their world that they may never have considered, before.
So go on. Keep getting offended or irked by those annoying things people “always” say or do. Complain to your colleagues, in private. But then nod and smile and work on an appropriate, polite way of educating the endless supply of perpetrators of said offenses, and everyone will be happier and better informed.