Saturday, December 10, 2011

Which Preferred? Outright Rejection or Silence?

I listen the Slate's Political Gabfest podcast nearly every week.  And at the end they all provide what they call "cocktail chatter," wherein they discuss something offbeat, intriguing or appealing to discuss at your weekend cocktail parties.  They are often interesting.  This week, one particularly interested me.

You can listen here.   The cocktail chatter begins at 45:51.   Emily discusses a poor man's letter that was on Reddit, then Jezebel from a man indignant that a woman he had dated once had not even deigned to provide him with a response of rejection.   Sadly for this man ended up on the internet.  I went and read it and frankly I just felt sorry and compassion for the guy.  Every one has been the recipient of similar missives, though maybe not as long and not quite as weird and for different reasons.  I can't quite recall but I certainly hope I was kinder, provided some response.

Emily brought it up because she felt that feeling is universal - the feeling of being mystified when you thought you had clicked with someone in someway and it clearly turned out you were wrong, thats a really upsetting feeling.  The other two men felt she was abusing and subjecting this poor man to ridicule.

Emily admitted she was both rubbernecking, yet felt it seems really sad that she was so heartless.  "I do think that not responding the is cruelest thing of all.  I would much rather get bad than no news.  Do you guys feel that way?"

Both her male companions each agreed that they would prefer bad news to no news.

Then they did a quick auditory poll of the audience.  After a first date, you are not going to go out with person x after the first date, would you respond in the negative?  And if you are a person who doesn't respond at all?  - seemed pretty even (though second one seemed more male!)

And if you were to get the email, "sorry this just isn't going to work."  Is there anyone who would rather get no email, no call back?  Any one in the room?   Would you prefer silence? Make noise if you would prefer silence.  Dead silence ensues.  

Emily noted that this is the cause of a lot of suffering - the acute universal sense that a response is always better.

At the end they always  - they discussed the trend of facial hair among young people, which fascinated me because.   That segued into why beards were so popular around the time of the Civil War, revealing   1861 Adam Goodheart - tells the stories of that year.  Theory was that because during the war it was heard to "tend to yourself" but soldiers in earlier wars weren't bearded.  Reason was a form a political nationalism - expressing masculinity and indomitable will.  Started 5-6 years before the war, after pictures from the revolutionaries of 1848 were all bearded and photographs of them made it to the US so men in the 1850s started to grow beards.

Pretty cool.

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