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10 January 2010 @ 11:15 am
A letter in which I say good riddance to bad rubbish  
Dear Big Dumb Mean Jerk,

Not a very impacting insult, and I used to be funnier when I swore a lot, but my New Year's resolution this year was to stop swearing. I didn't used to swear until I joined the IT almost decades ago, when people like you were still getting beat up in junior high. The trouble is, I started to swear too much, and now I work with children part-time, educating them about computers. I also teach adults, which I am gathering is what you think you do as well.

I have met students like you in classes. They seem to fall into two types: the nerd-turned-jock who acts like they do because they are still trying to be the tough guy their daddy never was, or in most cases, someone who doesn't take care of themselves very well and it shows. Most people like you have a variety of nagging health problems, usually having to do with digestion or blood pressure. And I know why this is.

You ever wake up and wonder why most everyone you ever see is so stupid? I am sure you think that several times a day. Maybe more than once an hour. I am sure that among these little inconveniences, you have bursts of anger that you have to put up with some of the most slow-witted sheep imaginable. You have probably uttered to yourself, "Man, why does this person ever pursue computers as a career?" Sometimes you say that with a giggle, sometimes a sneer, and sometimes your face is red with rage.

I have taught countless numbers of people in the IT sector. I have covered customer service, software, programming, networking, and system administration. I have taught teams and led projects. I have taught everyone from 5 year olds to people in their 70s. Some who didn't speak English very well. All had various skill levels, and in all these years, I have never met someone I could call truly stupid. Ill-prepared? Yes. Easily panicked, or gives up too easily? Yes. Poor listening skills? Yes. Stubborn? Yes. Arrogant and rude? Yes. But anyone who wanted to learn COULD learn, and I approached each one of these people with kindness and respect. In some cases, I knew a lot more than these people did in a variety of subjects, but did not approach them as if that made me better than they were somehow.

I have met your type, and found that they are usually stubborn, arrogant, and rude. Often they dictate their questions as if I was somehow too slow for them. They shame other students with weapons of sarcasm and patronization. They try to make people feel bad about themselves. What's worse is when people like you consider yourself educators. In positions of power, you magnify these weapons with an underlying sneer and smugness that drive people away. In fact, your daily habits of using these tools that give you power over others are actually a terrible weakness. Maybe you claim you don't care, or will shut me up with a snappy "whatever." I am just another whiny brat in your huge list of whiny brats you just seem inundated with.

In fact, I can predict with fair certainty you don't even care if people don't like you. That's one of the first things children think when they have decided the only way to handle rejection is to preempt it with their own. It is this deflection of core problems that you have used for quite some time now. It worked when you were 8, works now, right? That's why they seem stupid. You reject them before they even get a chance, and you're too impatient to get to know people you fear will hate you before you get to.

Humans are social creatures. They need to interact and be accepted by their own kind. They need love, support, and respect. Part of these skills involve humility and kindness. They involve patience and sympathy. In some cases, you have to admit you need help from another, and if you don't get support, you don't take an exaggerated childish decision that if you don't get support from X situation, you won't take support from ANYBODY. You take the "life is tough; everyone out for themselves" approach. Heck, that seems so strong and defiant, and daddy may actually be proud of you someday, right?

Sadly, as time goes on, this warps your perspective. And it drives people away. This starts a chain reaction and self-feeding loop of rejecting others, who then reject you, and you have to make all kinds of excuses why this is okay and you're fine with it. You become more shielded by yourself, dropping contact with others.

Eventually, your childhood self starts to die off. And you're okay with that, because all you remember is rejection and pain, anyway. It's a good protection, you think, because again, it's the decision you made back then. And look at you now! All powerful and strong in the face of adversity. But as that child whithers and dies inside, you start to lose strength. You get sick more often. You get moments of childish emotional outbursts, and get allergies to various things. You immune systems starts to spark and wink on and off. Sometimes the changes are subtle, and you just ignore them or cover them up with caffeine and alcohol. You start to crave stimulation with spicy foods, sugary foods, and other edgy tastes. Over the years, they have dulled your senses. Many start to seek more and more erotic tastes to fulfill their sexual apatite. If you're lucky, maybe you are built in such a way you can pick and chose the ladies. But if you're like most, you descend into pornography. Time goes on. You seek more and more stimulation as your brain builds tolerance to them. You seek more exotic foods, emotional rushes, and sexual gratification. In this quest, you may have learned the technical things that you have just to lord and dominate over others, satiating that increasing craving to fill the growing emptiness inside.

You start to crave control, and that's when the fortunes reverse. Life is about chaos and strength comes from flexibility and experience. It's about letting go and swimming with the current. But that would mean you'd have to rewire everything, and go back to when you were 8, and start all over again. You don't have the strength to do that, do you?

I am not sure how old you are, but let me tell you what happens when people like you age. They become bitter and jaded. They start to panic a little when the realize that when they die, they will lose everything. The emptiness consumes parts of them like a giant sinkhole, and soon you'll start running out of things to prevent you from falling in. Some panic and do crazy things out of desperation, like have affairs, buy expensive things, or just start lashing out. Anger feeds itself because at least people pay attention to you when you scream at them. Your body starts to fade, and probably faster than most because your diet has taken a brutal toll on your body. You get hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and soon you can't walk or go anywhere without pain of some kind.

And who is there to take care of you? If anyone, probably someone who just feels sorry for you. Someone who has compassion even though you are a complete jerk who hoards candy bars, screams at people, and never has anything kind to say. But inside, they just want you to be over with.

And one day, you will die. Probably in your sleep, like you always wanted. People have ignored and shunned you so long, your death comes as quite a relief. You are burned or buried, your possessions given or thrown away, and in a few years, you are little more than an anecdote or a name in a family tree that no one knows about.

You may argue that this is dramatic or that it happens to everyone. "Life is pain!" you may even say, and mock my sensitivity like it's a weakness. I pity if you do that, because out of anyone, you should know how hard it would be to be kind and compassionate to someone as disagreeable as you. My sympathy is strength, and a muscle I have made strong by exercising it daily. My flexibility in social situations has filled a lot of my own emptiness from my own turbulent childhood. I have a lot of friends. When I am sad or sick, they take care of me, just as I do to them. I educate children so that my lessons and life will go generations after I am gone. Maybe they won't remember me by name, but they will remember my lessons.

My teaching IT has given people more power, more money, and more referrals than anything else. I apply these lessons to everything else in life.

One lesson I shall pass onto you is forgiveness. I don't hate you. I forgive your sickness and weakness. I could have easily been you had fortune not smiled upon me when I became 18. I could have been an alcoholic, abusive, and when I finally started making decent money in IT, I could have been arrogant and boastful. And as I type this, I am also fighting my weight gain and lingering health problems due to stress. But I forgive you not because I think you'll be impressed, but because I will release you from my presence. You're only a series of words on a forum. If I were to send you this letter, I'd say there's a very good chance you'd either laugh it off or get so angry you'd feel the need to retaliate. You are not as strong as I am in these matters, so I will not bully you with your own inadequacies.

I just had to write this because it will help some other people get perspective on your type.

- Grig "Punkie" Larson.

PS: The part that really got to me? You were wrong, too. If you're going to claim to be smarter than me, at least post the correct answer.
Archangel Mychaelpraecorloth on January 11th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
Wow. I love reading your rants, but this one was so long I had initially only read the last couple paragraphs. It sounded like another exceptionally excellent rant so I started from the beginning.

Damn was that painful. You nailed me in almost every respect. It's something I've been noticing about myself and have been trying to change. The difference being that I tend to get unreasonably angry with other members of IT.

I do some teaching of basic computer skills to friends of the family and for volunteer work at non-profits, and with them I tend to give a lot of slack. Assuring them that questions are more than welcomed and if something I'm explaining doesn't make sense, ask about it because chances are I've explained it poorly.

What really speaks out about me is the getting frustrated with lack of support for X situation and translating that in to not taking support from anyone. I've lost some jobs because of this.

But the weird thing is I don't think that highly of my technical abilities. I know I know a good bit about a plethora of areas in IT/IS. By that same token I know that for any given area, there is a lot more that I could know. So even when I'm unreasonably frustrated at a job, I still approach a problem with other techs leading. I'll suggest a solution and if it's shot down out of hand, I won't argue.

Whether or not I'll rant in my mind about how stupid the person who shot down my idea is, is entirely up to whether their proposed solution, or reason for shooting down my solution sounds plausible.

Bah, but I ramble and I don't know why. In any case I just wanted to say thanks for this reminder. A lot of it really does tell a story about me. Hopefully I can escape the swirling vortex of anger and get back to the beginning of my career, when IT was fun. :)
Eridanus Darryl Kummerowseer_eridanus on January 11th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
You're good. Maybe too good for this world.

I wish I were better at being a better being like you are. I'm in awe of you and your pholosopy.

Thank you.