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Thread: Secular Scruples Poll #1: Inconsiderate People & Space Cadets

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    Default Secular Scruples Poll #1: Inconsiderate People & Space Cadets

    First in what may become a series of ethics discussions for The Secularium (if this pans out. ;)). Vote on the below and tell us why. (If you've never posted in the Secular sub-forum before, please start here first: http://americanpregnancy.org/forums/...t-in-this-room)

    I know "tolerable" is a pretty subjective term, and there are probably more than just two possible responses. But just for purposes of this discussion, the difference between the two would be that "spacey" is a forgivable quality in a friend, while "inconsiderate" is behavior you wouldn't tolerate in someone you know and you'd start putting distance between yourself and a person who is serially inconsiderate.

    Examples of where the line blurs between being inconsiderate and just plain unaware:

    • The busy friend who can't remember she volunteered to help you move and doesn't show up on moving day.
    • The driver who doesn't notice there's a line of cars queuing to exit the highway, speeds past all the people who'd been waiting for 5 minutes and cuts them all off at the exit.
    • That someone you know who comes up to you and starts chatting away about his day while your arms are loaded down with stuff. You're obviously struggling but it doesn't occur to the person to offer help.
    • The person who keeps trying to talk to you and doesn't notice you're trying get work done.
    • The friend who makes comments about your appearance that make you feel self-conscious, but just doesn't realize the comments make you uncomfortable.



    I'm sure there are better examples out there, but I hope these are enough to start discussion. Aaaaaaaaand go!
    Last edited by demigraf; 02-13-2013 at 02:20 AM. Reason: Poll was broken so changed "above" to "below"

  2. #2

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    D'oh! The Poll feature didn't work, so I'll just put the poll here.

    Statement: Inconsiderate behavior is tolerable if the person who behaves inconsiderately just tends to be a space cadet (i.e. forgetful, disorganized, unobservant but otherwise well-meaning) .


    Poll Options:

    a) Agree
    b) Disagree

    That is all.

  3. #3

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    a) Agree

    But that's only if it's TRULY not inconsiderate. Like all those blurry examples, I could forgive, as long as I know the person is truly a good person that I enjoy having as a friend. Except the driving one. That's either truly inconsiderate and being a jerk, or it's really unsafe driving and he or she shouldn't be behind the wheel!!

    However, if I started to get the feeling that said friend may not be quite as good intentioned as I thought and started to feel like he or she was using being "forgetful" as an excuse to be a selfish or whatever, it would be less tolerable...



  4. #4

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    For me, it would depend on how much their "spaciness" adds a negative spin to my life. I don't think spaciness is an uncurable disease, you know? Like, if one says they will watch the kids and then forgets, causing me to miss something important, I would expect a true friend to then come up with a plan to make sure it never happened again. Unless one suffers from a true disorder that makes it difficult understand what is socially acceptable, I do think you have to have some level of being just plain inconsiderate if you don't notice that what you are doing or not doing is upsetting, hurtful, annoying, inconvenient to others.

    I think if it was a constant thing, it would be hard to tell if the person really gave a rat's ass about our friendship. It's kind of like when someone acts like a jerk and says they had a hard life. We are all ultimately responsible for our actions and how they impact others around us, regardless of how we've been labeled.

  5. #5
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    Agree.

    But, and I say this as someone with memory issues, it cannot be a constant thing. When you are genuinely memory challenged, you develop coping mechanisms. If you don't, it affects your life in some pretty significant ways. Someone that repeatedly "forgets" either lacks self awareness to the point they will affect others in their life negatively, or doesn't give a rat's ass. Either way, that leads to sayonara on my part.

  6. #6

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    People who act like this are a huge pet peeve of mine. If it's a rare occurance, that's one thing, but when it happens constantly, it drives me too crazy to continue to make plans with and spend time with that person. I agree with Suja in that if it is a true memory issue, then they should find a way to deal with it.
    AKA Lisa724

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    duplicate post
    AKA Lisa724

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    Agree. I think that some very nice people out there just don't think the same way or see the same social cues. And if I know a friend is spacey, I would make sure to call and remind them. My cousin is very spacey...she is just a kid but I can see it being an issue her whole life. She was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and while her's is pretty mild (you couldn't tell if you didn't know), there is only so much you can do to do to work on changing something like that. Though she is spacey and that can be frustrating, she is also the nicest sweetest girl. But the driving example...that I would consider to just be rude and inconsiderate.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

  9. #9

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    I think being inconsiderate can too often look innocent enough but turn out to be manipulative (as is possible the original example this stemmed from and the example in the poll)Like the friend who constantly says "we should get together sometime" but then "forgets" to call. If it happens too many times it's no longer just spacey but looks suspicious. I always say if something (or someone!) is truly important to someone they will find a way to remember it.

  10. #10

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    Totally, Kate. I have an aquaintance who says to me every time she sees me that she'll call me later in the week, that we should get the kids together, that we should go have a drink, etc. Then I see her posting pics on facebook of her planning a ladies night out, going sledding, etc and she never lets me know. So maybe she isn't inconsiderate, maybe she is forgetting to let me know but that tells me I'm not very important to her and that the things she is saying when she sees me are insincere. Because I have figured this out about her I am able to tel myself that it's her, not me, so i can let it slide right off me.

    I consider myself pretty unorganized and forgetful. But I also hate to let people down so if I say I will do something, I simply write it on my calender and I check my calender every morning. Sure enough, I find things that i'd have completely forgotten if I had written it down.

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    Yeah I agree with you guys on that as well. "forgetting" fun plans....that happens much and it's not spacey and is inconsiderate. But some of Myles other examples.....•That someone you know who comes up to you and starts chatting away about his day while your arms are loaded down with stuff. You're obviously struggling but it doesn't occur to the person to offer help.•The person who keeps trying to talk to you and doesn't notice you're trying get work done.•The friend who makes comments about your appearance that make you feel self-conscious, but just doesn't realize the comments make you uncomfortable.Those I can see myself doing before or DH doing those or his mom or any number of people and those I see as more spacey and just not picking up a social cue or thinking about it.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

  12. #12

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    I'm with Kate - I think consistent spaciness is often a way to be inconsiderate and selfish without getting the blowback. I had a friend who would often make plans with me (and this happened to others as well) and then would just go out with anyone who last asked her. She just couldn't say no to anyone which meant that she would make everyone mad except the person who actually went out with her (the last asker). I wasn't great friends with her after high school, just seeing her occasionally with other friends, etc. But she found out I was getting married in Santa Fe the same weekend that she and some of her friends (who I actively dislike) were there. She invited herself to my wedding which was family ONLY - 26 people total. She begged to be invited and I told her that she could come but that because it was a family only wedding I didn't want anyone else to come with her - like I didn't want people I hated to crash my wedding and get drunk! These were and are all alcoholics, all they do is drink. Anyway, she never showed up. She totally blew off my wedding. Apparently she called the hotel room at 5:30, wedding STARTS at 6, and said that something came up and she wouldn't be able to make it. I haven't really talked to her since then. I thought it was so rude and ugly that I can't get around it. She emailed me once about it since then and said that she hoped I wasn't made about it but that one day we need to talk about how uncomfortable it was for HER. Nope. Not going to give you that one. My wedding that you invite yourself to and then don't show up for (very conspicuously since you are the only non family member invited) and I'm supposed to feel sorry for you? No. I'm still mad about that. new paragraph Anyway, a long-winded response to say that dizzy space cadets get a pass for behavior that others would get in trouble for and I think over time it makes them think that acting that way is okay to the point of doing something crappy like the above.

    "Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out." -Anton Chekhov


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    B. I don't have a great tolerance for people and can be pretty blunt with them when they start to annoy me, which is why I think I don't have a lot of IRL friends! I am trying to be better as I get older to not be so black and white about people, though.

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    Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Out of everything you mentioned, the thing that makes me the most annoyed is the car example, and depending on my mood I will not let one in easily because I think of it as a form of cheating, but on the other hand, I have read that in merges it is actually more efficient if cars wait until the last minute to merge rather than get in the lane ahead of time, which is when it usually happens to me. I often give people the benefit of the doubt, and tend to be kind of oblivious myself, so if someone is doing something annoying or obstructive, like talking to me when I need to work, or holding me up when I have a bunch of stuff in my hands, I just say right out that it was nice chatting but I need to get back to work now or I've got a bunch of stuff that I need to put somewhere or would you mind helping me with this. I would rather someone say that to me, also than be quietly resenting me for being clueless and happily talking away. As far as the comments, I have an aunt like that. And kids. I don't get uncomfortable easily about personal comments, and try to figure out if they're malicious or just a lack of filter. Lack of filter I can tolerate, malicious I don't, and I try to gently correct the lack of filter. Regarding lack of follow-through and spaciness on meeting and personal commitments, I might tend to drop those friends after a while, and will only invite them to group things where their presence or absence won't matter. I think there is a big difference between not showing up for commitments and obliviously chatting while someone needs to work or is holding stuff, but I still wouldn't take it personally.


  15. #15

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    You guys all raise a ton of good points.

    I guess, if the root of the question is whether or not someone who exhibits serially inconsiderate behaviors can be a good friend, there has to be more to the story., right? And just to be clear, in my mind, I was only talking about people who are genuinely unaware of their behavior, so assumption is that none of it is manipulation and none should be attributed to malice. In that case, how would your friend react if you pointed out the behavior to her (or him)? Would she self-correct? Would she get defensive? There’s also interplay there between our own tolerance and assertiveness. Like, just how soon would you speak up to your friend vs. how much would you keep to yourself out of “parental” feelings toward the person. No right answers. I just like talking about stuff like this.

    Katy, that friend of yours sounds like a real piece of work. Good grief!

  16. #16

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    The first couple of examples (the friend who forgets to help when she said she would, and the car merging) are inconsiderate and shouldn't be tolerated. The last three examples are, as pp have mentioned, more a case of missing social cues and, for me, are things that are forgivable if the person has other good qualities that make up for the lapse.

    When I was younger, I was really spacy in social matters, and sometimes I still am. I'm the type who might put my foot in my mouth and make a comment that inadvertently hurts feelings (some of you may have noticed I also do it online occasionally), or who will have a friend over chatting for an hour and only realize just after she left that I never offered her a glass of water. I don't mean to be that way. I consider it one of my biggest flaws, and while I've worked hard to get better in social situations, I have always been so grateful for friends who have loved me anyway... those who considered me worthwhile enough in other respects to kindly overlook the occasional social foible. Because of that, I try to offer the same grace to others. I have a friend (wonderful in other respects) who recently talked over me for half an hour while I tried to share something personal with her -- and I was reminded of the time, long ago, when a close friend of mine called and asked how I was, and I obliviously chattered on for ages before thinking to ask her how SHE was, and it turned out her partner's father had died. I felt like a heel, but it was instructive for me, and 15 years later it helped me not be annoyed with my talkative friend.

    However, I consider a friend who forgets about commitments and inconveniences others to be a different kind of spacy -- the kind that, deep down, really is just inconsiderate. We don't get to adulthood without being able to keep track of the things we really want to remember, and plans made with friends (especially if those plans are to help someone out!) should be in that category. It's about priorities, and that behavior, if it's habitual, probably indicates her priorities are not with your friendship. I think in that case I would eventually put the person in the "can't be counted on" bin. Which doesn't mean necessarily that I wouldn't be friends with her, just that I'd never expect her to follow through and would plan accordingly. I do think it's important to let her know first, though, that the behavior is a problem for you. It could be that she just looks at things differently - like, "oh, she's a mom too, she'll understand" -- when in reality, you don't understand. But once she knows that, she should step up and be more considerate, or in the bin she goes.

    About the car merging example -- it's funny that you mention this, because a similar thing happens very frequently in our neighborhood in the morning. When taking I to school, there's a little mini-traffic jam that happens at the four-way stop near our house. It gets backed up with people going to work, the schools in the area, etc. On our side of the stop, there's one of those sort of veering side streets that allow people to go to the right to turn into the neighborhood without having to go all the way to the four-way stop. But in the morning, when the traffic backs up a lot at the stop, what you get is people who zoom down the veering side street, but instead of turning into the neighborhood, they turn a little U and cut across the traffic waiting on our street to get back onto the main road, so that they don't have to wait their turn at the stop. The problem for me -- aside from just a general annoyance at line-cutters -- is that it also inconveniences the people who are in line on our street, as we have to make room for the cutters to cut across our street. It's also fairly dangerous. This morning, some guy in a BMW suv cut me off in this manner as I was preparing to move forward to the stop. I gave him the stink-eye, and he rolled his eyes at me, which makes me think that he felt he was perfectly in the right to do the maneuver, and that obviously his position was that whatever he was going to do was far more important than all of the other plebs waiting their turn at the stop. I and I (ha, that sounds funny) had a conversation on the way to school about privilege and ethics, and it was a good conversation, so thanks BMW guy - but you're still an a-hole.
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


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    I am not sure how to vote lol.Being spacey bothers me and I agree with PPs who said it's a free pass to just be inconsiderate and also that if things are important enough you find a way to remember them. I know everyone is different but just can't imagine true airheadedness (I know it's not a word lol) being acceptable across the board. Like you can't be that way at your job or you wouldn't be there long. So if you can turn it off long enough to perform your job you should be able to control it with friends and in social situations.That said, my Aunt is very spacey and I love her to pieces. I just accept it and realize she will never change. It irritates me to no end at times - like the time she offered to make a salad for DD1's backyard birthday party and showed up with it during dessert! Generally I deal with it by not asking her to do anything really important and I feel if I TRULY did need something she would find a way to follow through. My BFF is also a bit spacey but I also let that pass because she is my best friend and has been for 20 years. As an introvert I don't surround myself with a lot of people so I have a handful in my circle and that is it. If I have to tolerate too much negative behavior from someone I won't keep them around long.Since having kids I have become quite spacey myself though so I have more tolerance for it now than I have in the past. With each kid I get more spacey! So some of the examples in the OP I could see myself doing totally without realizing. Which is why I try to give people the benefit of the doubt most of the time. I would take the most issue with the last example. I would totally avoid someone who made comments about my appearance that made me uncomfortable and be annoyed that they don't realize the comments are not appropriate.
    Thing 1 (8), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

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    One of my issues with cutting people a lot of slack is that the ones I know in RL that are inconsiderate that way, are almost never spacey when it comes to stuff that matters to them, only with stuff that matters to others. Which to me, says that others are simply not important enough to be worthy of their brain space, in which case, why are we friends anyway?

    I have genuine issues with forgetfulness. I think it is related to my essential tremors, but not sure. I write everything down. Otherwise, it is gone in a flash. Even then, I forget stuff, but I don't do it frequent enough for it to be a major issue with work or life.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by pepperlru View Post
    About the car merging example -- it's funny that you mention this, because a similar thing happens very frequently in our neighborhood in the morning. When taking I to school, there's a little mini-traffic jam that happens at the four-way stop near our house. It gets backed up with people going to work, the schools in the area, etc. On our side of the stop, there's one of those sort of veering side streets that allow people to go to the right to turn into the neighborhood without having to go all the way to the four-way stop. But in the morning, when the traffic backs up a lot at the stop, what you get is people who zoom down the veering side street, but instead of turning into the neighborhood, they turn a little U and cut across the traffic waiting on our street to get back onto the main road, so that they don't have to wait their turn at the stop. The problem for me -- aside from just a general annoyance at line-cutters -- is that it also inconveniences the people who are in line on our street, as we have to make room for the cutters to cut across our street. It's also fairly dangerous. This morning, some guy in a BMW suv cut me off in this manner as I was preparing to move forward to the stop. I gave him the stink-eye, and he rolled his eyes at me, which makes me think that he felt he was perfectly in the right to do the maneuver, and that obviously his position was that whatever he was going to do was far more important than all of the other plebs waiting their turn at the stop. I and I (ha, that sounds funny) had a conversation on the way to school about privilege and ethics, and it was a good conversation, so thanks BMW guy - but you're still an a-hole.
    LOL. Awesome.


    Since this discussion, I've been thinking about a sort of extension of it, which is the fact that there are very few people who genuinely want to do bad. I mean, even my lying, cheating sister is just misguided in a way. The consequences of her actions were totally destructive (she broke up a home with small children), but if you look at it a certain way, she's a victim of her own insecurities, mental illness, substance abuse and resulting disproportionate sense of entitlement. I mean, I've listened to her try to justify what she did, and nowhere in there did I hear a person who *wanted* to hurt other people. She just completely believed that her needs were more important than anyone else's and she took what she wanted with disregard for anyone else's feelings. Something in her brain was stopping her from clearly seeing the impact her actions were going to have on other people (brokenhearted wife, the kids having to deal with upheaval in their home, my sister's own husband who could have moved on YEARS sooner if he'd only known, etc.) or maybe she saw the impact and just decided for herself that their pain was going to be less than the pain she would experience if she didn't do what she wanted.

    Didn't Socrates say something like "Knowledge is virtue"? I always took that to mean that if you had perfect knowledge of what is "right" (or at least what is the path of least harm), you would do it. And back to our inconsiderate space cadets, in a way, they just suffer from imperfect knowledge. Even the guy who sincerely didn't notice the line of cars and made the 20 people he cut off a little more grumpy for the rest of the day. But if knowledge is virtue, is the clueless guy somehow less virtuous (not as a good a person) than someone who is aware enough to consider the needs of other people on top of his own? Heck, what if the clueless guy doesn't even know enough to know that you're supposed to consider the needs of other people?

    Anyway, I guess, since nothing is black and white, and no one can really ever have perfect knowledge of other people's motives, it boils down again to just using our own knowledge of ourselves and asking, "Do I get enough out of being around this inconsiderate person to keep him/her in my life?"

    ==============

    Suja, I totally agree with your first paragraph. Whether or not someone can be considerate of others reveals a lot about their priorities, and that's a completely valid way to decide on whether to keep a friend or kick him/her to the curb ("kerb", Ash?).
    Last edited by demigraf; 02-14-2013 at 12:29 PM.

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