People are Stupid?
April 15, 2009 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Social Filter: Do I have a problem? (long alert)

I consider myself to be a little smarter than the average person. My parents raised me with a normal, not-maladjusted, not-extreme sense of right and wrong (no Dexter). I feel like I'm more open to ideas and people than most other people, if a little less extroverted and more introverted.

Now, with that being said, I dislike almost everyone I meet, and find many people to be stupid, self-centered, self-serving, and generally inconsiderate. Do I have a perspective problem, or is this just life?


I say hi to amiable bus drivers. Talk to nice janitors. Make jokes with strangers, when the mood strikes me. I feel that I'm at least as nice -- if not nicer -- than most people to customer service representatives and service industry employees.

Growing up in a small (55k) town in Hawaii, I don't feel like I had my "problem." By and large I liked the people around me in town, everyone was nice (small town bias, I know), and I looked up to everyone -- I was moved ahead in third grade, so I was always among kids who were older and more mature than I was, and they gave me loads of shit. I didn't react too negatively (I have no jail record, there's no literal skeletons in my closet/backyard, I still run with my old small circle of friends from high school when I'm in town).

When I graduated and attended an Ivy League school, I found the vast majority of people that I met to be disgustingly selfish and inconsiderate. The people that I met were constantly looking for a leg up on other people, and were overly concerned with status, the perks of status, the corporate ladder, and grades. The school was full of weasels. My one good friend from college (other than my girlfriend) is a jolly North Carolinian who is completely unpretentious and frank -- and hilariously freewheeling, almost to the point of self-destructiveness. My girlfriend (who, by school standards, is successful but also disillusioned with school) convinced me that the real world, while not as cheery and rose-colored as people who love life would have me believe, was not represented by the slice of people in school.

Now, four months removed from graduating, I hate my (temporary) job working in the State Legislature. My employer, a state representative, is narcissistic, an incompetent manager, and mildly bigoted (which gets passed off as humor). People around the capitol are, by and large, rude, inconsiderate, vapid, and stupid... and it drives me crazy.

One thing in particular: one of my job capacities, as the unofficial receptionist of the office, is to greet people that enter the office. Representatives from organizations defer to me, and we talk; people visiting the office to visit my longer-tenured coworkers ignore anything I say/greet them with (good morning, etc.), looking past me and walking past my cubicle like I'm not there... it drives me crazy.

As weird as it sounds, I feel like the strangers I happen to like the best are the ones that I know from playing pick-up basketball or surfing -- which is completely dumb.

I don't feel like I hate life. I know that I'm exceptionally blessed for a number of things -- to have been born in a First World country, to have college-educated middle-class parents raise me together, to have been lucky to do well in school and attend college. There's a lot to be thankful for. I'm happy to be alive and to experience things.

Now, with that being said, what's my problem? And how can I correct it?
posted by the NATURAL to Human Relations (54 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Your problem is that you were raised with small-town standards of niceness, politeness, and civility.

You can either expect a lot less out of big city people, or you can move.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 7:23 PM on April 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


hmmm....I dont think you have a problem. You are probably more sensitive (or rather aware)
to personalities that other people.
And yes, there are rude, vapid people in this world, and there are interesting, generally all-around-nice people as well....

You'll just have to learn to deal with it. It seems like your chidlhood and adolescence in that small town was incredibly filled with "cool" people...once you've moved to the city,
you find that other kind of people exist. such is life....
posted by theKik at 7:24 PM on April 15, 2009


The Ivy League and a center of government are not representative, would be my guess. They are places where people are extraordinarily concerned with status and position.
posted by nanojath at 7:29 PM on April 15, 2009 [19 favorites]


A lot of times our opinion of other people is shaped by the environment in which we meet them and what state of mind we are in at the time. You state that you hate your job which means you are probably already on edge when you get there, so that should there be someone even mildly objectionable, you hate them. That being said, houses of politicking generally attract the most extreme personalities - it's the nature of the business. So, there very well might be some truth to the notion that most of these people are awful.

The environment/mood factor might also be why when you meet people at pick-up games you tend to like them more. You yourself are happier. By the way, I don't think it's "completely dumb" that the people you like the most are the ones you meet playing pick up games. I think it's awesome. I wish I could meet people so easily.

There are lots of people in the world who will meet your qualifications for being totally unlikeable. But, there are also lots of people who won't. I would focus on finding those who don't. I know, easier said than done, but you have already proven that you can do it. Just get over the 'dumb' feeling and I think you will find those mythical creatures known as Nice People.
posted by Leezie at 7:30 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


All my friends who went to Ivy League schools said basically the same things about a lot of their fellow students.

As someone who worked in a state legislature for, thankfully, a really wonderful representative, the kind of thing you describe is pretty much expected. My entire experience with politics was a mix of some of some of the kindest, most genuine caring people you will ever meet, outnumbered by a load of phony... yeah, "weasels" is a good word. They're frustrating people to be around.

You, of course, can't change other people. There are a couple things you can do. You can get out of politics or any other career that people like that flock to, which is ultimately what I decided to do. Since the representative you're working for doesn't even sound worth it, you'd probably be happier getting out of that situation. If you want to stay in politics, you can try working for a nonprofit that pushes values you believe are important; it won't pay great, but you're probably already not being paid much as it is.

The other thing you can do: I've found that these people are more bearable if you're super nice to them. People like this will pop up everywhere, just not in as high concentrations as you're used to them, so you've gotta do what you've gotta do or they'll always drive you nuts. If you react in any other way to them, they'll tell themselves that you deserve to be treated rudely so they can justify doing so. If you're persistently nice to them, especially if they get really rude with you, some of them will be embarrassed by their behavior and let up.
posted by Nattie at 7:32 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I graduated and attended an Ivy League school, I found the vast majority of people that I met to be disgustingly selfish and inconsiderate.

Well....there's some reason for that. And your current employment really isn't bringing you into contact with a different crowd. You're in a stressed, competitive, and elite environment now and you were in college. Some of these things go with that.

You like the surfers and ballplayers? Well, hang out with them more. It's tough when you've been brought up with one set of values and then realize that the elite/professional world doesn't always play by them. But there are good people everywhere, and your values are probably great. I'd worry less about who you're smarter than/is smarter than you and just focus on the people you enjoy in your off time. At work, set the example of what a personable, conscientious person acts like. A lot of people have had a lot of privileges but haven't learned basic civility - it will never hurt you to model it.
posted by Miko at 7:33 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Being a smart introvert in a crap job doesn't help.

Make sure you're not fixating the flaws of others at the expense of taking a good, long, hard look in the mirror. The more I work on projects that make me fulfilled and happy, the less I care what other people do, say or think, period.
posted by aquafortis at 7:33 PM on April 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'd probably hate everyone I'd meet if I subjected myself to the bastions of type-AAA personalities such as the Ivy League and state politics. Sorry.

Also, you said:

I feel like the strangers I happen to like the best are the ones that I know from playing pick-up basketball or surfing — which is completely dumb.

Why is this dumb? No one should have to apologize to you due to the circumstances of your acquaintance with them.

It's not that your standard of decency is wrong, exactly; it's that it's just not especially logical.

There exist people beyond elite universities and state legislature. You should not treat the fact that you like them as a problem, but a virtue.
posted by trotter at 7:34 PM on April 15, 2009


Oh, also, you're young, and it's likely that as you go through life, move, take different jobs and so on you will be more comfortable with your own identity and will gravitate to people more like you - so your community will grow around you.
posted by Miko at 7:34 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now, with that being said, what's my problem? And how can I correct it?

I was all ready to say that the first sentence of your post was your problem (I consider myself to be a little smarter than the average person.), but upon further reading, I think your problem is that you're in the wrong job, surrounded by people you have nothing in common with.

I mean, if you're more comfortable around surfers and janitors (no disrespect intended AT ALL - really), I would think working for any State Legislature would be tantamount to pure torture. I feel for you.

And how can I correct it?

Find a new job. Not everyone is suited to work among a political crowd. Find something that puts you in contact with people more like you. Speaking from experience, you do not want to get trapped in a career path that forces you to work among people who, as you say (and I know all too well), drive you crazy.

It's your life. It's your career. Find your niche and you'll be much happier.
posted by ourroute at 7:47 PM on April 15, 2009


Being a smart introvert in a crap job doesn't help.

This is very true. I've had the receptionist job with an assy moron manager and no recognition - twice! - and it can really do a number on your outlook on life. You don't say how temporary your job is, but when you can, get out of there and get a job that doesn't involve telling other people where the coat closet is.

If you have time between work and surfing, you might want to look into volunteer work, taking a class at the gym, meetups, things that will allow you to be sociable and pursue an interest at the same time. Chances are you'll meet people you like a little better - they're already doing something you're interested in, too, and you're all actively choosing to be in a group setting, so it's probably a good bet that they're willing to socialize and make friends.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:52 PM on April 15, 2009


A lot of people are really afraid. That they won't amount to anything, that people don't respect them, that they aren't OK the way they are, that they'll never be remembered... all kinds of stuff. People have fears, and hidden problems up the wazoo. There have only been a very few people in my life that I have actively disliked, and every time, after an unpleasant period of seriously disliking the person in question, I have heard or otherwise found out some piece of information that makes their actions make sense to me (not right, but understandable). It's so much easier to feel empathy for somebody who is unpleasant when you know why they act the way they do. This story really illustrates what I mean: let's say you are walking in the woods when you come across a kitten caught in a bear trap. You feel overwhelmed with care for the kitten and you walk over to help it. You reach down to remove the trap, but the kitten is terrified, and it bites you, even as you are trying to help. You can see how scared it is, so you probably aren't angry or disgusted - just sad that the kitten is so hard to care for. What if you were walking in the same woods in autumn, and you saw a kitten sitting in the dry leaves. You go over to pet the kitten, but it bites you! Perhaps you'd be very angry at first, but then, you might realize that underneath the leaves the kitten is stuck in a bear trap. It makes the whole situation look different, I think.

I think it's a wonderful thing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Assume that they are good people and that their hearts are in the right place. If they are unpleasant, see if you can see what's causing the unpleasantness.

Of course, this is not license to be a pushover. If somebody is treating you in an unacceptable way, you can try to understand why, but you should also speak up and distance or protect yourself when appropriate. Just because you are a nice person doesn't mean you should never speak up for what you think is right.

And, of course, there's the unpleasant truth: once in a while, somebody is going to be unpleasant because he or she really doesn't like you. Could just be one of those things, or you could be acting in a way that the other person finds really hard to bear. I think the biggest pitfall of looking at people as basically good people who act badly when they are themselves unhappy is taking a sort of paternalistic or condescending attitude when it comes to their problems. Most of the time, people's problems have nothing to do with you, but if they do, it's best to be very humble, ask for forgiveness, and try to improve - as long as you aren't compromising yourself.
posted by Cygnet at 7:53 PM on April 15, 2009 [19 favorites]


Everyone in state politics is an asshole. You're in the wrong field if that's a problem for you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:55 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is rarely my advice, but what you need is to be more like Christ. Read the New Testament more.
posted by koeselitz at 8:09 PM on April 15, 2009


First of all it's good that you can name you don't like people and don't just write yourself off as 'shy' or whatever. Second it seems a lot of what you are judging people on is based entirely on shallow/polite social impressions. Have you ever sat one of these people down and had a long conversation with them, and still don't like them? More you get to know somebody, less you will dislike them. But yes I think we all walk around disliking the general crowd of individuals that form the background of our lives. They're noisy and ostentatious.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 8:15 PM on April 15, 2009


Hi. I grew up outside Honolulu (Alewa Heights) and went to an Ivy. Then I moved to DC. Although I did not work directly for the government, I worked for a big nonprofit. Neither experience was sunshine and roses.

Your problem is that you keep putting yourself in situations where you're surrounded by the kinds of people you don't like. Stop doing that. As soon as is feasible, get a new job, one that's not populated solely by superoverachievers who are naturally concerned with appearance and status.
posted by rtha at 8:16 PM on April 15, 2009


One tip. Calling out your employer with your very unique real name in your profile on a popular website could have a downside.
posted by jester69 at 8:21 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you went to an Ivy League school, you went to school in the northeast. Guess what: New Englanders (and New Yorkers, and Philadelphians) are not exactly renowned for their politeness and gentility, especially when compared to what you probably experienced growing up in Hawaii, which is pretty notoriously laid back. Things are only worse at the pinnacle of the ivory tower. Having spent a year at an Ivy myself, most of the people I met at school were self-impressed assholes with whom I got along not at all. I was raised in a small town, went to school in the suburbs of a small city, and feel much more comfortable in both of those environments, farther from the lofty heights of the meritocratic ladder.

So for starters, consider quitting the meritocratic game. It doesn't sound like you want what's at the end anyways, so why torture yourself? With your education you can probably do almost anything you want. So why keep doing what other people tell you you should want and do what you want*? Get out of politics. It almost universally brings out the worst in people. Seriously, watch the news. If you go into politics, you're likely to spend most of your time hanging around less-competent, less-influential versions of chuckleheads you see on C-SPAN or, more likely, the people who suck up to those wannabe chuckleheads. Looking forward to some of that.

You may still want to go to law school or something, as these days an advanced degree is increasingly useful in a variety of fields, especially if you do want to be in some kind of leadership role, but it's possible to do that without being sucked in to the status game. You just have to stay grounded. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by staying connected with people who aren't doing what you're doing. Which takes work, but is totally worth it.

But more broadly, you may just be finding that you're done with being an undergrad. When you get to college, everything seems so Interesting, New, and Important! But after a few years, most people with any degree of maturity realize that it's all been done before and that the really interesting stuff tends to happen after you graduate, i.e. outside the bubble that is undergraduate education in America. When that happens, the shine of hanging out with 18-21 year-old overgrown high school kids who think the most minor campus happening is a harbinger of the End of Civilization as We Know It can start to wear thin. Many people have this experience. I know I did. But you're about to move from being one of the oldest people in the room to one of the youngest. Trust me, it's quite a perspective change. So tough it out: you graduate in a few weeks, and though I can't promise things will be easy, given the state of the economy, I can promise that they'll be different.

*Note that no one is free to choose the requirements of their situation, so wanting something does not necessarily mean that doing it would be a good idea, even with your advantages.
posted by valkyryn at 8:22 PM on April 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hate my (temporary) job working in the State Legislature

I would say that this is the cause of your issues. In my experience, the people working in politics tend to have many of the same traits that you disagreed with in your Ivy League classmates.

Get out of the politics game, perhaps look at NGOs and non-profits where you can take your legislative experience and use it to finagle a job in a government affairs capacity. It seems like the ngo/charity/non-profit field would be more agreeable to how you like to see the world, and it's a place where you can use what you have learned in your current job.

The world is full of gentle, civil, non-pretentious people. I think you are just in the wrong place for you.
posted by gemmy at 8:45 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't mean to be flip, but get the fuck out of politics. It's the wrong place for you.

You should also avoid the entertainment industry if possible (again, not being snarky).

Try working at a non-profit if you can afford it. Failing that, try to work somewhere where things are actually being made/sold.
posted by ®@ at 9:11 PM on April 15, 2009


I believe that people who see almost everyone they meet as inferior to them intellectually generally have either an inflated sense of their own intellect or a self esteem problem. These people need to view others as beneath them in order to bolster their self identity as a smarter-than-average person. In other words, these individuals aren't actually trying to know people or to truly appreciate them. They are merely using them to maintain their inflated view of themselves.
posted by Piscean at 9:11 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The advice above is good but you might also look in to relaxing on the whole judgement thing a little bit - pretty much every sentence you wrote in your question is quite moralistic. Maybe try not to generalize so much, and just see a little nuance. A therapist can help with that, or a wise friend.
posted by RajahKing at 9:12 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stop seeking approval and validation from assholes, and don't attempt to define class based on resumés and job descriptions. Conversely, don't let yourself believe that your own resumé and job description will impress anyone, including the bus driver, janitor, or surfer dude.

I don't mean this to sound harsh - this is something I need to reinforce in myself.

As for your non-reciprocated niceties in the office: the workplace is not necessarily a culture that breeds civility or fosters etiquette, even worse that you're in an office where the bosses are on 4-year stints and many of the grunts are just trying to outlast the current administration's agenda. You've got office politics on top of actual politics. My condolences.
posted by krippledkonscious at 9:15 PM on April 15, 2009


Not that I am describing YOU (I don't know you) but just throwing that out there about people I have met who feel as you described yourself: "I dislike almost everyone I meet, and find many people to be stupid, self-centered, self-serving, and generally inconsiderate." Personally, the older I get, the more open I am to being chummy with people from all walks of life, levels of education and levels of social skills. I have taken on the mindset that everyone can teach me something, and I appreciate everything I learn from them.
posted by Piscean at 9:15 PM on April 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Welcome to the mainland. People here are louder, more arrogant (with not much to be arrogant about) and less interested in enjoying life than the people you're used to. Hang with the people you like to hang with. Expect rudeness, it is the way insecure people deal with their fellows - and the bigger (less connected) the city, the more rudeness the same insecure people think they can dish out. It isn't even worth paying them back in kind; you'll never see them again, so forget about them.

If you are greeting people then you see a lot of them and, to them, you are a distraction with respect to the main event. It's not personal. They just don't behave the way you're used to.

At one company I worked for, kindness to the receptionist was a -huge- part of the interview process and no one told me a thing about that. It was an excellent filter. Please, keep your own sweetness and don't take it personally when you get bitterness back - it speaks much more about the person you're dealing with than it does about you.
posted by jet_silver at 9:30 PM on April 15, 2009


New Englanders (and New Yorkers, and Philadelphians) are not exactly renowned for their politeness and gentility. WHOA.

OP, I think you and Valkyryn share the same perspective problem: different people have different standards for what constitutes politeness and gentility. I, a New Yorker, find it rude, presumptuous, and invasive when a stranger tries to small-talk me. When you come into contact with 8 million people a day instead of 50,000, you develop a barrier. If you had to politely engage in faux niceties with everyone, you'd explode. This doesn't mean that I don't thank doormen or greet (with a "hello" or a weak smile) people that I see every day. But I was raised to think that getting into a "how are you, how is your day, look at those clouds" with someone is a waste of both of our time. Neither of us really cares; we're busy, distracted, burnt out from social contact. Although I'd probably acknowledge your "hello," I'd think that it was your job to greet me thus, and should return the greeting with the minimum; it just wouldn't be a priority in the world of politeness. And, as others have said before me, the people you work with are probably, in addition to having a similar working definition of politeness, even busier and more distracted. If you are living in a larger and/or Northeastern city, consider this difference. You are working in their world. If you don't like it, you should work elsewhere.

Meanwhile, you disparage your classmates for being obsessed with status, the corporate ladder, and grades. If you were not also concerned with such things, how and why did you end up first at an Ivy, and second in a state-capitol job that you don't even like? You disparage practically everyone in existence for being more stupid than you; if true (it probably isn't), it isn't their fault and they don't deserve your scorn. Not even the people you "like," the ball-players and surfers, escape: to like them is "dumb."

It seems like you've lived in different places, but I don't think you've allowed your experiences to open your mind to different people with different value systems. Learn to differentiate between people intentionally harming you (not returning your greeting with appropriate enthusiasm doesn't count) and people who have other things going on that you don't know about or understand. In the latter case, become interested in learning and understanding what those other things are.
posted by thebazilist at 9:49 PM on April 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Welcome to the Misanthrope Club, here's your handshake and pillow to punch.

"I consider myself to be a little smarter than the average person. My parents raised me with a normal, not-maladjusted, not-extreme sense of right and wrong (no Dexter). I feel like I'm more open to ideas and people than most other people, if a little less extroverted and more introverted."

Introverts generally get the shaft in society. Develop some coping methods. I, for one, use more me time.

"Now, with that being said, I dislike almost everyone I meet, and find many people to be stupid, self-centered, self-serving, and generally inconsiderate. Do I have a perspective problem, or is this just life?

I say hi to amiable bus drivers. Talk to nice janitors. Make jokes with strangers, when the mood strikes me. I feel that I'm at least as nice -- if not nicer -- than most people to customer service representatives and service industry employees."

Good that you're still being civil. This is life, people suck, and there's little you can do to change that. You can cope with it, however.

"Now, four months removed from graduating, I hate my (temporary) job working in the State Legislature. My employer, a state representative, is narcissistic, an incompetent manager, and mildly bigoted (which gets passed off as humor). People around the capitol are, by and large, rude, inconsiderate, vapid, and stupid... and it drives me crazy.

One thing in particular: one of my job capacities, as the unofficial receptionist of the office, is to greet people that enter the office. Representatives from organizations defer to me, and we talk; people visiting the office to visit my longer-tenured coworkers ignore anything I say/greet them with (good morning, etc.), looking past me and walking past my cubicle like I'm not there... it drives me crazy."

OUT OF POLITICS. NOW. INTROVERTS DO NOT THRIVE THERE.

You need to change your surroundings a bit. Get a better job. Hang around people you want to hang around. Be civil, but it's okay to feel contemptuous and angry. Enjoy time by yourself. You do not have to follow the main way of socializing or be an extrovert. (I, for one, can't understand extroverts - why don't they get tired from all that socializing?)
posted by kldickson at 9:51 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do politics and Ivy League universities tend to draw in lots of vapid social climbers? Sure.

But come on, you don't like anyone you meet?

It's just not possible that everyone at your ivy league school is "stupid, self-centered, self-serving, and generally inconsiderate." Some of them probably are -- I certainly have met former ivy leaguers who fit this description -- but I think you're right to intuit this as a problem with your perception and behavior towards others.

Separate out some of the attitudes you expressed in your post:

"I feel like I'm more open to ideas and people than most other people"
"I consider myself to be a little smarter than the average person."
"I dislike almost everyone I meet."
"Many people [are] stupid, self-centered, self-serving, and generally inconsiderate."
"The school was full of weasels."
"People around the capitol are, by and large, rude, inconsiderate, vapid, and stupid."

These all come off as extremely narcissistic and negative, no matter how much you qualify them. And the first sentence is demonstrably false: If you were truly open to people, you wouldn't be harboring these negative attitudes towards them.

This has nothing to do with being an introvert or from a small town. YOU are the common denominator here.
posted by hamsterdam at 9:55 PM on April 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


It's just not possible that everyone at your ivy league school is "stupid, self-centered, self-serving, and generally inconsiderate."

Sample bias. All the interesting people are minding their own business studying at the library.
posted by aquafortis at 10:27 PM on April 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


It sounds to me like you prefer a smaller town with a slower pace and you don't like suits. Given that, it's odd that you're caught up in the social climbing game that you despise. You seem to be working against your own values. Stop doing that, and you'll enjoy your life more.

It also sounds like you're a little young and still have a bit of the arrogance that can come from education. (I speak from experience on this one.) Time will take the edge off that. Over time, you'll find that people whose values you don't share and with whom you don't agree are not necessarily stupid. That won't mean that you agree with them any more than you do now. But it will humanize them quite a bit.

But I quite agree with you that basic civility seems to be on the wane, and that's a bad thing.
posted by wheat at 11:10 PM on April 15, 2009


Hamsterdam and the bazilist, I disagree.
As another poster has advised, "Don't lose your sweetness." Don't become hard. As someone above has advised, "Model civility."

I'll offer a piece of advice from my mother: "It doesn't matter how other people treat you. The only thing that matters is how you treat them." Although this is sometimes a tall order, requiring the patience of a saint, it is truly the only way to live.

Regarding your Ivy League experience: It's marvelous that you were able to benefit from attending a top school. I think that if you'd gone to a public ivy, like Michigan or Wisconsin, for example, you would have had a much more pleasant experience. If some day you consider graduate school, consider schools like these, which offer academic excellence with genuine friendliness, and from which students emerge with a fully developed social conscience.

I hope your present situation doesn't sour you on politics. I come from a political family, and I've known many people in that field who behave much better than those who surround you currently. We need more people like you in politics!
posted by ragtimepiano at 11:20 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You sound a lot like me. Except I went to a regular university and now I have job in tech where I meet people I like who are friendly to me, in a city filled with similar folk. So your problem is you hang around Ivy League and politics people.
posted by jacalata at 11:23 PM on April 15, 2009


to everyone that's responded so far, thank you very much for your different viewpoints and constructive criticisms.

for clarification:
- it's not dumb that i happen to like people i meet through basketball and surfing -- it makes sense that people i meet through my hobbies tend to have less in common with those i meet through jobs and school. what i meant was dumb -- and was too inarticulate to express -- was that i shouldn't be limited to meeting great people through these things. it's a shame that i couldn't have expressed it better at the time.

thanks to all.
posted by the NATURAL at 12:07 AM on April 16, 2009


Umm, Im also from a small town in Hawaii, grew up under very similar circumstances, and now live in a city. I feel the EXACT same way. Huh.. Just the other day I told my friend (one of the few people here I can tolerate) that I thought maybe I just dont like people in general since 90% of those around me on a daily basis are fucking worthless moneyhungry deceitful assholes.
I just travel a lot, go home a lot, and try to fly under the radar while Im here. Oh and surf as much as possible.
posted by osloheart at 12:16 AM on April 16, 2009


No, that's what the world is really like. But you may take some comfort in the fact that "t'was ever thus". And is true no matter where you live. Stupid, selfish people far outnumber the other kind. That's why our mythology is filled with characters who are the exception.
posted by telstar at 1:22 AM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I went to a university that was one of the UK equivalents of Ivy League. A lot of students I met really really irritated me. Whether this was because I was a bit precious, or because they tended to cut corners and not be interested in working or intellectual pursuits I have no idea.

You do come across as a bit narcissistic, but I think this is because being in a situation with people you can't stand is pushing you into a position of 'me and them'. I have found that in some jobs I've worked in, where I knew I was being told what to do by people who were less smart than I was. My solution was to keep trying to find a job where I was managed by people smarter than I was, so I could learn something rather than be resentful. And with that, I found I was working with people who were more like me - people who had interests outside of work (I don't mind if they aren't mine, but I like people who have them), or different backgrounds to mine. It made me less angsty and, dare I say it, less of an intellectual snob.

School really isn't life. You seem to be open to ideas and people, or so you say, but there isn't much evidence of it. I would advise a change of scene.
posted by mippy at 4:27 AM on April 16, 2009


Like a few previous commenters, I grew up in a small community where most people knew each other by reputation at the very least and were generally pleasant and helpful. Certainly everyone knew all of their neighbours. Then I moved to a capital city and, yeah, most of the people I met seem "self-centered, self-serving, and generally inconsiderate" at first glance. It can get very isolating: I've lived in two parts of this city over four years, and have only ever once knowingly spoken one of my neighbours. Like you, apparently, I went for a while hating the city, regretting my move here and got quite depressed.

My advice is to stick with it. Accept that people in cities have very different expectations about how strangers will interact, but that this is mostly just a veneer. City dwellers are pretty unpleasant en masse but once you establish a relationship they're generally much better, just ordinary mostly-pleasant people. So develop a slightly thicker skin when dealing with strangers (but don't stop being friendly to strangers: it's either well received or makes them hilariously uncomfortable) and be prepared to have to work slightly harder at establishing friendships. I think a bit part of this is that there's no sense of community among city dwellers, so you need something like a shared hobby as a grounding instead.

Also, yeah, I'd imagine that politics attracts a lot of self-serving superficial types. Politics is, after all, the art of persuading large groups of people to do what you want them to. Only stay in that environment if the career path is really important to you. You don't have to be bosom pals with everone you work with, but spending most of your waking hours with people you actively dislike sounds like a high road to depression.
posted by metaBugs at 4:40 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't have the patience to read everything above, but I get the sense that you value personal relationships over career success, but you've been putting yourself amongst people who value careers over personal relationships. You value community and a let's-all-work-together approach to life, and you're putting yourself amongst people who see life as a competition. You want to be valued for your innate qualities (smart, nice, etc.) and you're bothered that the people you're around only value you for what you do. I think you're a bit naive about the wider world, but I also think there are better situations out there for you than the ones you've been choosing.
posted by jon1270 at 4:51 AM on April 16, 2009


Eh, I grew up in big cities and still think most of the people I meet are vapid and banal. It's got nothing to do with coming from a small town.
Welcome to the world, kid. There are morons everywhere.
When you do meet someone you like and admire, don't underestimate how big a deal it is. Make friends with them, no matter how you met them.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:45 AM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, jester69, Roy Hobbs is a fictional character in the book The Natural.
posted by Pax at 6:38 AM on April 16, 2009


the_NATURAL: I'm a Big Islander myself living out on the East Coast at the moment, finishing up some school work at an Ivy League.

I have to agree with the general consensus of the answers so far in this direction, you should be engaging with people that you enjoy spending time with. What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now? What's the most important thing? For me, a big deal is to be able to interact with smart people that are good at what they do on a regular basis. That sort of ability is sought after most in research and tech, and that's where I ended up (mostly by osmosis).

I encourage you to try new things if you don't like what you're doing now. Try a different career path, attend a MeFi Meetup, see what other people a little older than you are doing with their lives and if it's something you want.

In short, there's nothing wrong with you from what you've stated in the question. It just sounds like you've decided it's time for a course correction (or at least, part of you has figured that out and the rest of you is still doubting).
posted by onalark at 6:46 AM on April 16, 2009


shouldn't be limited to meeting great people through these things

One of the biggest real-world lessons is that few things are as you think they "should" be. Why the heck shouldn't you be limited to meeting great people in your personal life? Not all fields attract great people, or have a work environment that allows great people to express their greatness. The world is going to disappoint you many times because things aren't the way they "should" be. Your career isn't bringing you into contact with the kind of people you enjoy the most - I'd say a lot of people are in that boat with you, and a lot of others have chosen different careers just so they could work around people they like better.

If it's really a regional thing, you could move back to an area where you like the general culture more.

But having to meet your friends through leisure activities isn't somehow weird or crazily inconvenient. It's probably the best way to meet people you're truly simpatico with.

If you have a problem at all, I'd say it's that you don't like your job.
posted by Miko at 6:55 AM on April 16, 2009


One tip. Calling out your employer with your very unique real name in your profile on a popular website could have a downside.
Roy Hobbs was the name of the main character in The Natural.
posted by _Skull_ at 7:25 AM on April 16, 2009


Doh!
posted by _Skull_ at 7:25 AM on April 16, 2009


You are spending your time with the wrong crowd of people. There are a vast number of vapid, banal, status-conscious people in the world, but in any large school or city there are bound to be many people who do not fit this description. You need to hang out in places, situations and niches that attract those kinds of people. Even in a big city or top university, people more to your liking will exist, but you will need to make an explicit effort to find them. I live in Manhattan and, believe it or not, there are plenty of people who are not loathsome, narcissistic, rude status-conscious ladder-climbers. Also, be aware that certain careers and companies attract different kinds of people, so you need to pay attention as much to the culture of your work as the job itself.
posted by lsemel at 8:39 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would also add that the size of the cities is not relevant. If you have a chance sometime, go to Scandinavia. Copenhagen especially is an example of a large metropolis filled with good-natured, generous people.
posted by ragtimepiano at 8:53 AM on April 16, 2009


Part of your issue is adjusting to different social norms. The other part is that you seem to be "cranky" or irritable. Everyone has days when they hate everyone they meet and let little things (that aren't personal) bug you. Causes for my crankiness can range from an underlying illness, hunger, bad job, surrounded by evil people. Take care of your self and practice letting things go. Also as suggested above, take a look at your job and location and re-evaluate whether it is the best place for you.
posted by Gor-ella at 9:16 AM on April 16, 2009


stupid, self-centered, self-serving, and generally inconsiderate . . . . disgustingly selfish and inconsiderate . . . narcissistic, an incompetent manager, and mildly bigoted . . . rude, inconsiderate, vapid, and stupid . . .

You've chosen to live in environments where most of these crappy qualities are rewarded, and the others bring no consequences.

. . . I feel like the strangers I happen to like the best are the ones that I know from playing pick-up basketball or surfing -- which is completely dumb.

That's not dumb or weird. It makes perfect sense.

-
posted by General Tonic at 10:32 AM on April 16, 2009


what's my problem?

The extent of your problem is that your reaction to these people bugs you.

And how can I correct it?

Stop letting it bug you.

Seriously, it's that simple and that hard. Some people are fortunate and just like and get along with everyone. Other people - like you and I apparently - are just about the opposite. I really dislike a lot of people. I meet them and within a few minutes I'd be okay if I never saw them again.

Here's what's made me happier in life.

Realize that a lot of these negative traits you see in people don't necessarily mean they're bad people overall. I have a friend who in some ways is one of the shittiest people I know. He's negative and judgmental and difficult. He's also giving and self-sacrificing and does more volunteer work in a month than I've done in the last five years. It's not an excuse for his negative traits, but I know that from an objective standpoint he does more good for the world than some other people I know who are far more widely liked.

The point of this isn't some pollyannish everyone-is-great. It just means that if you give yourself the freedom to think of people outside of strict confines of Good or Bad (or Polite or Rude or any other dichotomies) it makes it a lot easier to (a) shrug off the ones who get under your skin and (b) more easily find things about them that will let you interact with them in a pleasant and rewarding manner. It also frees you from going home and thinking "oh thank grod, another day done with dealing with those jackholes."

It also frees you up from this sense of guilt/confusion that you get on better with these people you meet through your hobbies. Nobody feels bad that they like chocolate ice cream better than vanilla, or that they don't like pistacio. You tend to get on better with people who you have that in common with rather than your career, so what? Maybe people with that hobby are more likely to be of a similar disposition than people in your career.

No doubt some people are going to have traits that are objectively repugnant or personal dealbreakers for you. There's nothing wrong with that. But making some conscious effort to see some value in people you don't instinctively click with makes for a better quality of life.
posted by phearlez at 1:49 PM on April 16, 2009


When I think about it, I like _some_ of the people in my career world quite a lot, but on the whole I have some differences with the majority and some serious critiques of who's attracted to the work and why. I rail about it sometimes and conferences and stuff with my closer cohort, but I rarely think about it outside of a work context - because I'm really happy with my outside-work life, and I really like the work I do. So it doesn't get to me all that much that the people in the field general aren't more like me.

Another data point, inspired by phearlez.
posted by Miko at 2:37 PM on April 16, 2009


your experience of the pleasant side and the deeply unpleasant side of people is present in every individual, you will continue to find those elements whereever you go, particularly if you start becoming more aware of them and looking for them... you are just coming to experience it now, and it is disappointing. Check your expectations a bit; just don't check them too much.
posted by iamnotateenagegirl at 3:21 PM on April 16, 2009


Your code of values is in conflict with the values of the system you are working with/at. What's interesting is that you seem to be exhibiting the same attitudes that you are complaining about.
posted by xm at 12:34 PM on April 18, 2009


Hmmm, it's interesting to me that the two responders who criticized you (without warrant) received the greatest numbers of "plusses." I'd wager to say that a lot of people reading your question do not understand much of what you are experiencing, and that's a pity. We spent a couple of summers of the Big Island where my husband had a project on Mauna Kea, and we loved the warm, welcoming people there. We have spent time in Europe and we find cities like Copenhagen to be full of friendly, authentically warm people. The "size of the city" is not a valid an excuse for rudeness that you have encountered.
About the private Ivies: It may be, unfortunately, that some attitudes persist from the days when these schools were for rich men's sons, regardless of their intellectual gifts, who were "overly concerned with status, the perks of status, the corporate ladder', as you write. There are still some "legacies" in the Ivies. Public Ivies, like Michigan and Wisconsin, have always admitted by merit, and there are no legacies in Ann Arbor and Madison. I will also point out that neither of these schools feed into Wall Street. It IS possible to have a first-tier academic environment that is nurturing and friendly. Keep this in mind. Don't give up. Remain the open, friendly person you are, wherever your career path takes you. The only way to respond to incivility is to model civility.
posted by ragtimepiano at 9:34 PM on April 26, 2009


You are normal. There is nothing wrong with you. The problem is that the people you hate think the same thing. Glad I could be of help.
posted by dudleybdawson at 8:33 PM on May 27, 2009


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