Respect from the worst places

There is a game you can play. Frankly, I can’t recommend enough that everyone try to go out and play it. The only problem is, playing this game works better the more people you have.

You need an even number of participants for this game. For every two participants, write the same integer on two sticky notes, in ascending order from 1 to (half the number of total participants). Then attach the notes to people’s forehead in such a way so that they cannot see the number on it, but other people can. Then tell the participants that they are meant to pair themselves with the highest numbered person they can manage to.You are not allowed to look at your number, or tell another person their number.

The results of this game are fascinating for many reasons. The came models very real social situations in life.The other thing that it does well is teach the participants, particularly those with low numbers, what it is liked to be an unvalued member of society. It teaches people what it is like to be ugly.

I am ugly. That isn’t easy to say, but it is something life has taught me about myself. How do I know, because in a respect we are playing this game every day. You get a very clear idea of how people treat you, versus how people treat others, and you establish your worth. The game models that wonderfully. You will go up to a high numbered player and speak to them, and their lack of interest shows immediately. You lower your standards, repeat, and find yourself still being snubbed. In the game, the high numbers quickly figure out that they are high numbered by the amount of attention they get. The low numbered learn from how everyone else treats them just how devalued they are. Life is hard.

As I mentioned before, in real life this is all information you get from how other people treat you. And at some point, you just figure out. Bear that in mind next time you meet someone.

Largely, this has to do with your looks. But I don’t think it can be summed that simply. Or maybe that is merely what I would like to hope. By way of explanation, here is what has been happening to me recently.

I found myself in a work place where I was not really being respected by my coworkers. It started pretty much from the first day I got here, and I have various ideas about what the problem was. If you continue to read this blog, future posts will make this more and more clear. But I am not sure I want to harp on that point here and now. What I do want to say is that, right or wrong, I do not think I deserve how I was treated. If someone brings me evidence showing me that I did, I will be happy to change my mind. But we can leave it at that for now, and run with my assumption. These coworkers decided that the number posted to my head was low, and that is how they treated me. Nor did they do much to mask their contempt. Fine.

Flash forward a month into the job. I am apartment hunting and manage to find a decent enough house at a fair enough of a price. The only hitch is that the landlord is a bit of an… eccentric. Yea, that is me being polite about it, and if you met the person you may say worse things about him.

I’ll try to keep the description down to a paragraph, as it isn’t really the point. But this guy is pretty much an everything-ist. If it has an -ist ending and is a negative adjective, this guy is likely it. Racist, sexist, classist, et cetra (or in this case, ad nauseum). His opinions are literally a cavalcade of things I disagree with, and his reasoning isn’t much better. But this is something that may get it its own post at some point, so I’ll leave it at that.

But here is the rub. That landlord, really really likes me. He knows i disagree with his opinions, and he even know that I think he is more than a little annoying. But on those off chances when we get a chance to chat, he treats really well. Everything from the conversations we have suggests that he respects me. he treats me better than my coworkers, for sure.  And that for me is the crux of the weirdness of it all. I have done nothing to earn the respect of this landlord, save put up with his nonsense as he spews it. I have done nothing to earn the disrespect of my coworkers. And I can’t help but not be happy with the fact that for whatever reason my coworkers read a low number on my head, and my landlord reads a high one.

But I guess life just isn’t fair.

One Comment Add yours

  1. That exercise is an interesting one. I’ve seen it done with several variations, but it is invariable. I suppose the question is just how much judgement or value assignment goes to image. There are certainly other things that factor into that social value, and I would venture to say they become more prominent as we age. Someone can look an absolute 10, but demote themselves to an 8 just by being a nasty piece of work. Just the same, I think people can gain social value by being enjoyable company. I literally think someone can look more attractive just by their actions.
    I don’t know how many people avoid speaking their opinion to someone who holds theirs feverishly, but I’m guessing most. I bet those people just love anyone that can disagree with them and get their argumentative neurons firing. That landlord might be a case in point about people losing value soon as they start speaking, but I can only guess.


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