Years ago when I was running the Boulevard, I was having a meal with a biker named Red Dog. There was a street rat who was having a conversation with himself about how he really needed money. When his floor show didn’t invoke pity, he decided to try talking to Red Dog about how cool the band on Dog’s shirt was. Dog looked at him and said
“Do I know you?”
“Then why are you talking to me”
“Well man I need money”
“I don’t know you and you’re trying to hit me up for money? No.”
I tell you that story because it was the first overt example of something that would later become the basis of my ‘relationships are economies’ model. Something that I’ve lectured at universities and academies about. At the same time, I’ve looked at self-appointed ‘PC police’ and responded with “Are you sucking my dick? If not, then you don’t get to tell me how I ‘should’ behave.”
Humans are tribal. We are designed to function in ‘groups.’ Now the nature and the size of the group varies — as does our responsibilities and connections to those in the group. Something else that varies is expected behavior in different circumstances and power dynamics. Within reason, I’ll take my boss telling me to cool my language at work as I will listen to my friends and family if they’re telling me that my language is out of line for a given situation. For example: I recently had a friend say ‘let’s go outside’ because the topic and language was unnerving the parents of little kids who’d been seated behind us. I agreed and we exited the restaurant. As we were done eating and just hanging out, I had no problem. The thing is it was Page suggesting it (and she looks out for me). Because of our relationship and established trust, she could speak directly to me and without hesitation about my behavior. Had one of the parents approached me, it would have strongly depended on how they presented themselves.
Thing is if I’ve been really egregious Page also would have been able to smack me down — and because I trust her I would have forgiven that approach. Whereas someone I have no relationship to trying to smack me down … well that doesn’t go over too well.
Simply stated, I have a long-established and balanced economy with my friend and I trust her not to abuse the power I have given her to influence my behavior. Unfortunately too many people try to abuse this human trait, by demanding a change in your behavior without a return investment. Worse is how many of these people believe the only way to get anything done is by starting out with a smack down approach. My general response is some variation of ‘fuck off.’
Three reasons for this
1– It’s not done to help me or others
2- It’s about THAT person’s power, control and status
4- They are demanding, not asking or negotiating between equals
4 – It violates the rules of economy
Swearing in front of other people;s kids is one thing. There are broadly held standards about it. Telling me I can’t use a word in a social situation because that person considers it offensive is another. Is the situation in a public place or an area under their control? Is it a professional or casual environment. Do you have an economy with that person — where it’s a give and take? If not, why are they demanding you alter your behavior.?
I say this because often people who use this tactic…
a – don’t want an economy at all. They just want to tell you what to do and then — after they got what they want — like a crack whore, be done with you.
b – are interviewing you for further bad behavior. Can they get away with manipulating you and starting a relationship out with you already being in the red? A relationship where you have to please them? Will you tolerate this kind of behavior?
c- are jockeying for social position at your expense. They’re going to show everyone else how ‘in’ with the crowd they are by using you as a scapegoat to demonstrate how well they’ve embraced the ‘right’ ideology.
I don’t hesitate to call people out on this behavior. If possible I’ll do it politely but if that doesn’t work, I have no problem laying it out on the line. I do this for several reasons. First and foremost it shows the person that messing with me is a bad idea. Second it sends a message to everyone I will defend my boundaries — and that I can do it on multiple fronts. Third, if there’s going to be bad behavior, it will be on that person’s half and in doing so he/she will lose status. Fourth, often such people are bullies and while tolerated in the group, taking them down a notch can win you friends and supporters (i.e., acceptance into the group).