Sunday, April 5, 2015

A little more Unsolicited Advice

From a piece on the curious condition of "face-blindness"

"One time, when I was in college, I was in the ladies' room having a cigarette, because this was back when you were free to give everyone around you cancer. Between drags off my freedom-stick, I was complaining to this woman about a sociology class I was taking. She suggested that maybe I just didn't enjoy the subject, but I insisted, "The problem is the instructor is fucking boring! She doesn't know how to lecture!" Suddenly the woman turned white. Her tone immediately shifted into a snapping lecture voice that was all too familiar, and I realized she was the instructor. Again, the change in context was all it took -- her "bathroom conversation" voice was different from her "teaching a college course on sociology" voice, so I hadn't been able to recognize her outside of the classroom. Needless to say, I never went back to that class, and when I dropped it, I didn't even have her sign my drop slip -- I couldn't show my face around her ever again."

Unsolicited Advice:

1) In general, you shouldn't talk shit about people. If you can't say something nice, don't say something at all [unless you are posting pseudo-anonymously on a wonderful blog specifically created for this purpose].

2) Just reading about you smoking makes me assume that you smell like ass.

3) It sounds like you could use your smoking breaks to study more. Maybe you would enjoy sociology more if you understood it. Here are some suggestions.

4) You have a condition. This means your world view is different than that of those around you. This does not mean you have a pass to be an asshole. Guess what? You are being an asshole. So own your condition. This isn't your parent's condition, or your friend's condition, or your teacher's condition. But your current behavior makes it their condition when it is outside of their control. You know something though: it is inside your control. You are the only one who can do something about it. So create a series of coping mechanisms, start frequenting support groups (in person or online) and stop being such a goddamn asshole.


  1. I concur with 1-3 and the first half of 4.

    I read the same piece on the same website. Later she does say she learned to be nice to everyone (as a coping mechanism, essentially).

  2. Calling strangers assholes while pretending to be someone I'm not is my coping mechanism.

  3. Well I didn't call anyone an asshole...

    But when I was grad school, I went to the dean's office to ask if I could drop a class after the deadline (which in those days was much earlier in the semester). They said no, and I pleaded, saying that I was having a hard time getting the instructor to answer questions despite waiting patiently after class (for hours). This was a lab, and one problem I was having is that a particular process wasn't working and the instructor wasn't helping. Took the instructor 3 weeks to determine that one of the chemicals had gone bad). This put me well behind where I should have been. However, I was not permitted to drop the class. Oh well, it was worth a try.

    I turned around and the instructor was standing behind me. I apologized to her but said it was how I honestly felt about the class. And I left it at that.

    Oddly, I received an A for the course. I didn't feel it was deserved but I wasn't going to argue.

  4. If there's a prosopagnosia spectrum, I'm not at the extreme end, like this woman, but I'm somewhere on it. In practical terms, this means that, while I have no trouble identifying my colleagues after an encounter or two (and never had such problems with my own professors), I'm not very good at learning my students' names. To the extent that I do (and I certainly try, at least with those who attend regularly), I tend to identify them as much by things like hairstyles/colors and clothing styles as by facial features. There are obvious downsides to this approach, most notably the tendency of late adolescents to experiment quite widely (and sometimes wildly) with such aspects of their identity presentation. Usually it's the young women who come back from spring break with radically changed hair styles, colors, etc. This year, however, it seems to be the young men who are undergoing the most radical transformations, especially in the facial-hair department. Beards seem to be very common in my classes this year (in part because I'm teaching Writing for Techies, who are still overwhelmingly male; in part because of the hipster trend; and perhaps in part because beards can be one way of signaling Muslim identity). With the arrival of spring, some of that hair is now being removed, trimmed, or otherwise rearranged, and I'm having to learn names all over again.


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