Why Assuming "Everyone Is A Jerk" Makes Your Life Better.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Here’s how I survive, folks: I assume everyone’s a jerk on some level.
Not on every level, natch – it’s rare that someone’s a through-and-through jerk.  But even the nicest guy turns out to have this vague yet palpable bigotry towards, say, Pakistanis, and the sweetest girl you ever knew turns out to think Donald Trump has some good points.
Now, if you don’t assume everyone’s got a little jerkiness rolling around in them, then you feel betrayed – my God! I thought you were perfect! How could you let me down?  You thought you’d found the person who was Not A Jerk, and it turns out that when you look at them from the right angle there’s a big chunk of Jerk sticking out of their forehead.
Whereas I just assume everyone has some jerk in them: celebrities, friends, author-buddies, tiny babies, Peter Dinklage, whoever.  I just haven’t viewed them from the correct angle to see that jerkiness, but I assume it’ll show up sooner or later.
Doesn’t mean I can’t like ’em.  I think once you resign yourself to the fact that everyone’s jerky in the right circumstances, you come to rest a little easier: you don’t have to hunt for perfect friends.  You can like people who’ve got some serious flaws – which is good, because you’ve got some serious flaws, and hopefully people will like you.
This is not to say you shouldn’t be outraged when Your Best Buddy turns out to be a strident anti-vaxxer, of course. Call them out! Argue! Stir up a fuss!  But the “everyone’s a jerk” theory subtracts that feeling of betrayal that saps your day and makes you wonder how you’ll function when you haven’t found the True Person To Serve As Your Inspiration.
Everyone can inspire you, when viewed from a certain angle.  Take that inspiration to make yourself better.
And stop feeling like today’s jerkassery has ruined your faith in humanity.  A reasonable definition of “humanity” includes “jerkiness,” for honestly, that’s what we are.  Mostly nice.  With a solid streak of “jerk” running through us.

1 Comment

  1. Grev
    Aug 20, 2015

    I feel like an alternate title to this blog could be “Life is easier if you take other people off those pedestals before talking to them.”
    Pretty much a good observation all around.

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