1176: "Those Not Present"

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Klear
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Klear » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:18 pm UTC

Yeah, I totally agree with the above post.
Edit: Damn, not only ninja'd, but posted on the next page... I meant Vroomfundel's post.

Vroomfundel wrote:I however envy them a little bit as these cliques control a lot of important information among them that is often quite necessary for corporate survival and advancement, even mandatory for a successful career in the public sector.


This reminds me how a friend of mine joked that he will sooner or later lose his job because he doesn't smoke. Everybody who does is informed not just of gossip, but of everything that's happening in the workplace, including some quite important work-related stuff.

Oh, and they're talking about the giant squid that's been filmed recently.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Zindaras » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:26 pm UTC

Klear wrote:What I was getting at was that often people are annoying not because they are assholes, but because they happen to have a bad day or something. Perhaps more importantly, there are people who are genuinely trying to rip you off or hurt you or whatever, but they do their best to stay on your good side and to look as if they have no ill will towards you. That's where gossip can be useful - to uncover these cases. Of course, you need to take it with a grain of salt since the gossipers can also have their agenda, but that's social life for you.

Also I'd like it to be known that whenever I say "punch him in the face", I mean it as a hyperbole. It has more punch than "give them the cold shoulder"/"be more aware when in their presence"/"attack them verbally" etc.


And then there's people that are assholes to you but nice to everyone else to maintain their social station, so they still get good gossip and your strategy doesn't work.

rmsgrey wrote:
Zindaras wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Zindaras wrote:But what then do you do when you are surrounded by gossiping people? There's no scooting out of that one.


Scoot more - sooner or later you'll find an unlocked door


But there are more gossipers outside, forcing you to scoot back in. Truly, it is inescapable.


You're not forced to scoot back in - in fact, unless you turn your chair around, "scooting back" would mean continuing in the same direction that got you out of the room in the first place.

Sooner or later (unless you die first), you'll find somewhere where there's no-one gossiping within a reasonable range - 7 billion people evenly spaced around the world would still leave places where the nearest person was 1km away.


I'm working on a "scoot backwards from conversation" basis. It's also a lot easier to scoot backwards on a chair than in any other direction.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby rara_bb » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:30 pm UTC

Never thought I'd say this, because I almost always find something good in an XKCD comic, but I didn't really care for today's strip.

I guess not talking about other people behind their back is pretty easy if your job consists of researching stuff on the internet and selling t-shirts. In a regular office environment, I don't see how people can keep their sanity without at least some exchange about colleagues. It doesn't have to be mean either - but you can survive a 9-to-5 without the occasional "heavens he really likes to hear himself talking, doesn't he?".

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Scott Auld » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:33 pm UTC

Kudos Mr. Munro for this one

Gossip is essential for the survival of civilization.


Disagree. Whatever needs to be addressed in a person's behavior can be addressed directly to them in private, for the betterment of the community.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby RogueCynic » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:41 pm UTC

One thing I like to do at work is when I'm talking to someone and another person walks up, I say "That's not a nice thing to say about (insert new conversant's name here)".
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:42 pm UTC

rara_bb wrote:I guess not talking about other people behind their back is pretty easy if your job consists of researching stuff on the internet and selling t-shirts. In a regular office environment, I don't see how people can keep their sanity without at least some exchange about colleagues. It doesn't have to be mean either - but you can survive a 9-to-5 without the occasional "heavens he really likes to hear himself talking, doesn't he?".

There's a difference between that sort of comment on recent shared experiences and having a laundry list of people to denigrate.

I'm not speaking for RM, but I don't have a problem with talking about people in their absence unless it's petty and/or malicious. "Hey, Jack's dating Mandy now" is fine; "Hey, Jack's dating this girl with really weird eyes" probably isn't.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Роберт » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:49 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:I didn't like this comic. It's not funny, but rather seems to be trying to point out how superior the author is.

Plus, it's a stupid sentiment anyway.


In the news today: Diadem said he didn't like this comic (which seemed to be against saying negative things about people who aren't present) and then proceeded to imply negative things about someone who wasn't present.

rara_bb wrote:Never thought I'd say this, because I almost always find something good in an XKCD comic, but I didn't really care for today's strip.

I guess not talking about other people behind their back is pretty easy if your job consists of researching stuff on the internet and selling t-shirts. In a regular office environment, I don't see how people can keep their sanity without at least some exchange about colleagues. It doesn't have to be mean either - but you can survive a 9-to-5 without the occasional "heavens he really likes to hear himself talking, doesn't he?".
Urgent update: someone who relies the technique of talking negatively about people who are not present as a coping mechanism for handling their crappy job also dislikes the comic.

I think I can form a hypothesis here...
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Zindaras » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:54 pm UTC

rara_bb wrote:Never thought I'd say this, because I almost always find something good in an XKCD comic, but I didn't really care for today's strip.

I guess not talking about other people behind their back is pretty easy if your job consists of researching stuff on the internet and selling t-shirts. In a regular office environment, I don't see how people can keep their sanity without at least some exchange about colleagues. It doesn't have to be mean either - but you can survive a 9-to-5 without the occasional "heavens he really likes to hear himself talking, doesn't he?".


But wouldn't you prefer to talk about giant squids? I know I would.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:57 pm UTC

Wooloomooloo wrote:Well, as with (mostly) everything, I find the truth is somewhere in the middle. In a company where the main subject is slamming non-present people I would feel awkward and "scootish" too. I'm certainly not in the habit of starting such discussions myself. On the other hand when some of my friends behave in some rather questionable ways and another friend who noticed the same thing I did brings it up, I sure as hell won't pretend we're talking about the weather, or start scooting. I'm definitely not the one who's going to sweep other people's dirt under the rug for them and pretend it doesn't exist, when I'm directly addressed about it; sorry.

That's not gossip. If you're bringing up a problem and trying to find a solution, even if it is concerning a negative facet of someone you know, then it's not gossip. Gossip is widely defined as "idle talk or rumor about the personal or private affairs of others", and is "one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts, views and slander".

Plus, it's a stupid sentiment anyway. Gossip is essential for the survival of civilization. It no one ever gossiped, there would hardly be any social incentive against acting like an asshole. A community needs gossip to make sure that everybody stays in line, and that those who don't stay in line can be dealt with in some way.

You either don't know what gossip is, or your opinion is contemptible. Hell, some sociologists define it as a form of verbal violence.

If someone is fond of malicious gossip and basically just throws dirt on everybody to make themselves took better in comparison, well, sooner or later everybody will know that about them. And do you know why? Because people talk about each other and, yes, gossip.

That doesn't even make any sense. You are again conflating gossip (which is pretty clearly illustrated in the comic), with "Hey, we've got a problem with Bob and need to find a solution."

More likely, someone will learn about it much later, probably after their group reputation has been ruined based on nothing, when their last well-meaning friend tells them "the reason everyone hates you is because all they know about you is Suzy Wilkins chatting about how lazy you are, and since they didn't know you had health and home issues they saw no reason to disbelieve her, even though no one likes her either."

Thanks to gossip, you can find that out.

No, thanks to acting like a gotdamn adult and just voicing your complaints to his face, instead of being a passive-aggressive little wretch, you can find it out.

Or, here's one, going to one of his friends and saying "Hey, Joe seems to have a problem with me. Do you know if I did something to offend him, or is he always like that?" Not gossip, not malicious, and gets the job done.


All the people saying how wonderful and useful gossip is: seriously, you don't seem to have any clue what you're talking about. Look at a gossip rag or hell, read the comic for an example of what gossip really is, and try to tell me how that's constructive.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Klear » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:30 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:You are again conflating gossip (which is pretty clearly illustrated in the comic), with "Hey, we've got a problem with Bob and need to find a solution."


Let's look at the quotes from the comic:

He's not so bad, but his friends...


Perfectly legitimate. You never had a friend who for some reason often met with insufferable people who had a bad influence on him? Also note that he isn't even talking about his friends behind their backs, just friends of his friends.

...his band is never going to take off if...


This one could well be a part of constructive criticism. Without the "if", it's still an expression of dislike and/or lack of faith in his band's success.

Yeah, his sister is even weirder. Did you see she had...


This one is pretty mean. I'd be compelled to interject, though that depends on context.

Why do you keep insisting that everything has to be so black and white? Even saying something to someone's face can be nice, extremely offensive, or anything between.

And while you're quoting wikipedia, maybe you should read further than the first line:

Gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins.[1] This has found gossip to be an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity.[2] Indirect reciprocity is defined here as "I help you and somebody else helps me." Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist, as aiding social bonding in large groups.[3]


I think you're only considering the pejorative meaning of the word, not the social mechanism behind it, though the comic itself doesn't even refer to it as "gossip".

Edit: Forgot to mention that talking about someone's flaws behind their back doesn't mean you cannot say it to their face next time you see them.
Last edited by Klear on Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:44 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby JimsMaher » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:36 pm UTC

"... pfft. Posers."

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:46 pm UTC

Klear wrote:Perfectly legitimate. You never had a friend who for some reason often met with insufferable people who had a bad influence on him? Also note that he isn't even talking about his friends behind their backs, just friends of his friends.

Did I have such a friend? Yes. Would it have accomplished anything but bringing him down to harp on it behind his back for no other reason than to harp on it? No.

And while you're quoting wikipedia, maybe you should read further than the first line:

Gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins.[1] This has found gossip to be an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity.[2] Indirect reciprocity is defined here as "I help you and somebody else helps me." Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist, as aiding social bonding in large groups.[3]

Yes, I read that. That's talking about how the act of gossiping aids social bonding in the group of gossipers, not anything about it encouraging corrective behavior or helping its victims. It wasn't relavent to the point at hand.

I think you're only considering the pejorative meaning of the word, not the social mechanism behind it, though the comic itself doesn't even refer to it as "gossip".

The thread, which I was responding to, does. You're picking at straws.

Why do you keep insisting that everything has to be so black and white? Even saying something to someone's face can be nice, extremely offensive, or anything between.

"Keep"? I made one post.

My complaint with gossip isn't about being offensive. As you saw in my past post, I'm perfectly okay with being offensive to somebody's face, especially with the intent to "correct" them. My problem is with gossip, i.e., tearing someone down for the sake of tearing them down.

Gossip has a pretty clear definition. Yes, it is hypothesized to serve a sociological purpose...which is completely distinct from helping improve the community or the victims. You could just as well (and actually, very easily could, since it's the same mechanic) say that at least the KKK builds camaraderie amongst its members.

I don't think I can stress that last sentence enough.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Fire Brns » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:17 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:I didn't like this comic. It's not funny, but rather seems to be trying to point out how superior the author is.

Plus, it's a stupid sentiment anyway. Gossip is essential for the survival of civilization. It no one ever gossiped, there would hardly be any social incentive against acting like an asshole. A community needs gossip to make sure that everybody stays in line, and that those who don't stay in line can be dealt with in some way.

Gossip is hardly an essential for the survival of civilization, it is a holdover from our more simian behaving ancestors where females would berate their competition to make themselves more viable and berate non-mates to make their mate more desirable. Gossip is simply a conflated popularity contest that we pretend is important. Furthermore, talking behind one's back ensures that they do not know what is wrong and do not know to correct a frowned upon behavior.

I find that directly addressing issues with people solves issues much faster and if the behavior is not something that can be modified I simply cut ties rather than stress over their unchangeable choice in music or their skills.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:49 pm UTC

The appropriate response to all of the gossip etc. is Wheaton's Law: Don't be a dick.

EDIT: also the corollary: If your friend is being a dick, tell them, 'Hey! You're being a dick! Stop it!"
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Vertices » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:19 pm UTC

Covane wrote:Gossip is your impotent stick.


I lol'ed.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Diadem » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:54 pm UTC

Covane wrote:
Diadem wrote:I didn't like this comic. It's not funny, but rather seems to be trying to point out how superior the author is.

Criticizing the lack of humor in a strip which gives all indication of not trying to be funny is superfluous.

XKCD comics don't always try to be funny. Some of the best xkcd's aren't funny. But this one is clearly trying to be, and failing. Plus, it's not like it has any other redeeming qualities. It's simply a bad comic. Not the end of the world, no one can be brilliant 100% of the time. But there's no sense in denying it.

Covane wrote:
Diadem wrote:Plus, it's a stupid sentiment anyway. Gossip is essential for the survival of civilization. It no one ever gossiped, there would hardly be any social incentive against acting like an asshole.

This is a statement which is of extraordinary ease to refute. The most powerful individuals in the world are with only rare deviation "assholes." The most wealthy individuals in the world are with only rare deviation "assholes." The most prominent targets of celebrity are almost universally "assholes." Humans are, if anything, vastly more directed toward narcissism in this day.

We're not talking about celebrities or politicians. Celebrity-gossip has little to do with gossip about people you know, which is what we were talking about. As someone else pointed out, gossip about celebrities is a result of caring about celebrities, and gossip about celebrities is stupid because caring about celebrities (as if they were someone you know) is stupid. But that's all off-topic anyway.

Covane wrote:
Diadem wrote:A community needs gossip to make sure that everybody stays in line, and that those who don't stay in line can be dealt with in some way.

Even supposing the state of the world was not as I detailed in the above, this would still be an idea without basis. "A community needs gossip to make sure that everybody stays in line," meaning that gossip is the stick used by society as disincentive to poor social behavior. You then immediately say that those who break social standards "can be dealt with in some way." Gossip is your impotent stick.

On the contrary, gossip is a very powerful tool, both for detection and as punishment.

Let's take a look at Alice. She's in a bar, where she meets Bob. He seems like a nice guy, interesting, charming. He's clearly interested in her, and she kinda likes him. She's not entirely convinced though, some of the things he says give off a bit of a bad vibe. Later, she talks to her friend Carl, who says that Denise's sister Ellen used to date him, and had a bad break up. He doesn't know all the details, but he heard from Fred that Bob's very possessive and jealous. Later Gina tells her that Bob also drinks a lot.

Well, our Alice knows enough. She won't touch Bob with a 10-foot stick after hearing all this. Instead, she starts dating Hank. Eventually they get married and live happily ever after with their three kids (Irine, Jacob and Katie) and their dog Lassie. All thanks to the social benefits of gossip!

That's why communities need gossip. If someone is being a dick, not everybody will be a direct victim of this. But they need to be warned nonetheless.

The punishment part is also important. First of all to be able to punish someone for being a dick, you need to know that they are a dick. But gossip is a punishment in its own right as well, because reputation is very important for people. If you do something bad, everybody knowing that you did something bad is a big punishment, and something most people try to avoid.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:39 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Let's take a look at Alice. She's in a bar, where she meets Bob. He seems like a nice guy, interesting, charming. He's clearly interested in her, and she kinda likes him. She's not entirely convinced though, some of the things he says give off a bit of a bad vibe. Later, she talks to her friend Carl, who says that Denise's sister Ellen used to date him, and had a bad break up. He doesn't know all the details, but he heard from Fred that Bob's very possessive and jealous. Later Gina tells her that Bob also drinks a lot.

Well, our Alice knows enough. She won't touch Bob with a 10-foot stick after hearing all this.

The problem is, Alice doesn't really know anything, and now she is taking action based on unreliable false "knowledge". And I don't mean that in a sense to require mathematical certainty or anything like that, but a much more practical sense of her sources of information have a high probability of introducing noise and distortion into the signal. She hasn't observed Bob being possessive and jealous. She hasn't observed Bob drinking a lot -- and certainly hasn't observed negative consequences of that, which are probably what she's really worried about. In the first case, there are two or three relays between the actual observer and Alice herself, and that's the real danger of gossip: one person observes something, reports it with their own interpretation and embellishments, the next person tacks their own interpretations and embellishments onto that, and pretty soon an entire community "knows" a heavily distorted version of something that only one of them actually observed.

All that might still be useful to Alice as directing her attention to possible problem areas, but she certainly shouldn't take it at face value. If everyone was that pragmatic about both giving and receiving information -- recognizing the limits to the certainty of information received and acting on it with according skepticism, and couching their own reports with the limits of their own knowledge and their interpretations explicitly flagged, taking and giving any gossip with several shakers of salt as it were -- then it wouldn't be a problem, and you would only get this useful "hey maybe pay attention to these possible problems" signal. But people don't do that, so gossip just turns into an ugly game of Telephone that can unjustly ruin someone's reputation just because one person misinterpreted something or embellished a story -- never mind the potential for outright fabrications deliberately weaponizing that entire system.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby ctsketch » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:49 pm UTC

I had to share this with a friend of mine, who can't have a conversation with me that doesn't involve talking about others, haha

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby piquantement » Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:14 pm UTC

Guys, This American Life thinks gossip is useful! For anyone who is interested in exploring the topic further. (It won't let me link the podcast - it thinks it's spam - but if you Google it you should find it right quick). The most interesting part, I thought, was the use of gossip in Malawi to determine who has HIV and who is therefore safe to date/marry.

But seriously, I think there is a difference between people who gossip to tear down people and people who gossip to spread information - such as whether a person might be a good choice as a sexual partner (discussed in the This American Life episode above, but not only in the case of disease, but in cases of cheating, etc) or even if a person has recently been a jerk. I have a personal case where a person in my friend group was extraordinarily dickish towards me when no one else was around, and I have absolutely no guilt over telling my friends what happened and portraying him in a negative light for it. In fact, I wouldn't even mind doing it while he was in the room, but the reason I don't - it will create more conflict than if I do it without him there, and doesn't really add any positives to the situation (he knows he was a dick).

You guys differentiating between gossip and "spreading information" - the difference isn't always so clear-cut. It might sound like gossip to one person (Randall) and useful information to another.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Eltigre91 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:26 pm UTC

Oh my science. As is usually the case, the comments are as interesting as the comic being commented about. I can't even begin to quote all the comments that my following statement will cover, so I'll just say what I have to say.

If you think this comic is all sanctimonious and superior, then you, sir, are extremely insecure about yourself. Nowhere did he even hint at thinking he was better than him. He was making a simple social observation and giving his views on it. His own personal views. If you feel offended, please, feel free to call the wahmbulance.

And besides: Gossiping is generally looked down upon anyway because it is generally being a coward and throwing stones. There might be a few certain extenuating circumstances, but to dwell on those for justification on the entire thing is daft. So grow up, people. You gotta leave adolescence some time.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Dark Avorian » Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:43 pm UTC

A lot of people say that you should face someone face to face. I have to ask a question. Do you really, really want everything other people dislike about you to be told to you? Really? Frankly I would much rather everyone else talk about me. Maybe I'm wierd. I once knew this one person who was on a very close quarters trip with me and some other people. No one could stand this person, it was literally driving us insane the conflict they were causing. But for various reasons having to do with thier social maturity it would've been crushing to them to hear that we didn't like them, and why. We let the trip supervisor talk to and work with them, and vented angrily in our private time so we didn't let the conflict linger between the rest of us.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby DR6 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:06 pm UTC

Dark Avorian wrote:A lot of people say that you should face someone face to face. I have to ask a question. Do you really, really want everything other people dislike about you to be told to you? Really?


Yes, of course. How would I fix it if nobody tells me about it?

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby just john » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:10 pm UTC

Finally! This comic explains where all those chairs went.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Jatopian » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:14 pm UTC

I think a better question is whether telling people to their faces what you don't like about them is really something that isn't going to end in very damaging backlash for you.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Klear » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:20 pm UTC

DR6 wrote:
Dark Avorian wrote:A lot of people say that you should face someone face to face. I have to ask a question. Do you really, really want everything other people dislike about you to be told to you? Really?


Yes, of course. How would I fix it if nobody tells me about it?


Not everything people dislike about you are things that can or should be fixed.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Fire Brns » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:26 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
DR6 wrote:
Dark Avorian wrote:A lot of people say that you should face someone face to face. I have to ask a question. Do you really, really want everything other people dislike about you to be told to you? Really?
Yes, of course. How would I fix it if nobody tells me about it?
Not everything people dislike about you are things that can or should be fixed.
Those things shouldn't be gossiped about either then.
Things that can't be fixed: race, illnesses, family.
Things that shouldn't be fixed: appearance, beliefs, tastes.

Other people aren't clay for you to mold everything about them you don't like, if you don't like them enough that it matters then move on. Wasting your time gossiping about it shows that you are in fact a sad pathetic little being with no other way to enjoy life.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:30 pm UTC

Dark Avorian wrote:A lot of people say that you should face someone face to face. I have to ask a question. Do you really, really want everything other people dislike about you to be told to you? Really? Frankly I would much rather everyone else talk about me. Maybe I'm wierd. I once knew this one person who was on a very close quarters trip with me and some other people. No one could stand this person, it was literally driving us insane the conflict they were causing. But for various reasons having to do with thier social maturity it would've been crushing to them to hear that we didn't like them, and why. We let the trip supervisor talk to and work with them, and vented angrily in our private time so we didn't let the conflict linger between the rest of us.

So, it sounds like you're saying that your group let them continue to sit there and be confused why everyone wasn't treating them like the others, then encouraged the feelings of resentment in the rest of the group and stoked those flames.

Well, as long as we get to use anecdotal evidence!

I was expelled from middle school, accused of planning a school shooting, based on jack shit all gossip from some of the popular students who disliked me for being one of the "weird kids" (i.e, having skipped a grade in math, participating in discussion with the teacher on class topics, etc.).

I later went to a boarding school, wherein I learned years later that the few friends I had gathered at the beginning of the year, who had begun excluding me and even once "joking" that I should kill myself, had spent a lot of their time before that gossipping about my "stupidity" and "laziness" at the instigation of one guy -- the one guy being the only one who actually had a class with me (in an advanced mathematics course I was struggling in), and all their evidence for "laziness" actually being my health problems and trouble sleeping. So, spending all of their time criticizing me for behavior which was largely due to personal issues or beyond my ability to correct, and which did not affect them in one single blighted way.

So, I think my anecdote trumps yours, neh? I'm pretty sure it trumps Diadem's made-up fairy tale, at least.

Suggestion: maaaaaaybe, when we decide for whatever reason you're displeased with someone? Try being a functioning human being by (1) actually working to resolve the issue, instead of fostering further negativity, and (2) take heed of that age-old adage to examine the plank in your own eye first.


(Yes, this is a hotbutton issue for me, because this stupid gossip BS has not only made my life miserable, but hey, is identical to prejudice and bigotry. You can make arguments for why canibalism or greed have an evolutionary basis, that doesn't make them good, and trying to pretend it does only makes you look foolish.)

Other people aren't clay for you to mold everything about them you don't like, if you don't like them enough that it matters then move on. Wasting your time gossiping about it shows that you are in fact a sad pathetic little being with no other way to enjoy life.

Hear, hear.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby J Thomas » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:49 pm UTC

Part 3 of Buddha's 8-fold path:

Right Speech.

"What is right speech? Abstention from lying, slander, abuse, and gossip; this is called right speech."

If gossip is evolutionary necessary, then poor Buddha must fail.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:31 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:The whole idea of punching people is to provide negative reinforcement for unwanted behaviour. ...

Sorry, I just have to nitpick here: You don't want to reinforce unwanted behavior. Negative reinforcement of gossip through punching means punching someone whenever they aren't gossiping and stopping only when they gossip. The word you were looking for was punishment.

rara_bb wrote:....- but you can survive a 9-to-5 without the occasional "heavens he really likes to hear himself talking, doesn't he?".
Yes, I don't quite see what you're suggesting is hard about that; it's not like gossip is the only kind of conversation.

-Edited to fix misquote
Last edited by Quizatzhaderac on Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:47 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby brenok » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:38 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Part 3 of Buddha's 8-fold path:

Right Speech.

"What is right speech? Abstention from lying, slander, abuse, and gossip; this is called right speech."

If gossip is evolutionary necessary, then poor Buddha must fail.


Jesus could have failed too:

Mattew 18,15 wrote:If your brother sins against you, go to him. Tell him what he did wrong. Keep it between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won him back.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby bmonk » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:02 pm UTC

I belong to a community, one of whose rules is to avoid grumbling and gossip--that is, if you have a problem, go to the person who can do something about it to make your complaint, don't just grumble to those who can do nothing. Similarly, gossip is counterproductive--it fails to address the issue with the person who has a chance to change what bothers you.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Klear » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:49 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:
Klear wrote:
DR6 wrote:
Dark Avorian wrote:A lot of people say that you should face someone face to face. I have to ask a question. Do you really, really want everything other people dislike about you to be told to you? Really?
Yes, of course. How would I fix it if nobody tells me about it?
Not everything people dislike about you are things that can or should be fixed.
Those things shouldn't be gossiped about either then.
Things that can't be fixed: race, illnesses, family.
Things that shouldn't be fixed: appearance, beliefs, tastes.

Other people aren't clay for you to mold everything about them you don't like, if you don't like them enough that it matters then move on. Wasting your time gossiping about it shows that you are in fact a sad pathetic little being with no other way to enjoy life.


WTF man? I meant things like musical taste or hair colour. I'm not confront you and tell you that the bands you listen to suck, but I won't have a problem telling our mutual friends who I think share my taste in music that they should politely decline your invitations to concerts. Things like that.

You're picking the worst examples and yes - gossip can be cruel, hateful, destructive etc. I never said it can't, just that it serves a useful role as well.

KrytenKoro wrote:So, I think my anecdote trumps yours, neh? I'm pretty sure it trumps Diadem's made-up fairy tale, at least.


Since my position is that gossip can be both good and bad, both the anecdotes reinforce my position. Thanks! =P

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:59 pm UTC

Well, let's face it, Group II was having a much more interesting conversation anyways.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Diadem » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:01 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:The problem is, Alice doesn't really know anything, and now she is taking action based on unreliable false "knowledge". And I don't mean that in a sense to require mathematical certainty or anything like that, but a much more practical sense of her sources of information have a high probability of introducing noise and distortion into the signal.

Well, of course. No one is saying that you should take gossip as gospel. But talking about other people is still a useful social phenomenon. Even if the information you get isn't always reliable, it's better than no information.

All that might still be useful to Alice as directing her attention to possible problem areas, but she certainly shouldn't take it at face value. If everyone was that pragmatic about both giving and receiving information -- recognizing the limits to the certainty of information received and acting on it with according skepticism, and couching their own reports with the limits of their own knowledge and their interpretations explicitly flagged, taking and giving any gossip with several shakers of salt as it were -- then it wouldn't be a problem, and you would only get this useful "hey maybe pay attention to these possible problems" signal. But people don't do that

They don't? I'd argue that they do. I heard of people who love gossip, I heard people who love passing on, and, indeed, embellishing, stories about others. But I've never heard of anyone who took ever rumour they heard as 100% truth. Most people are naturally sceptical of rumours, even while they are very interested in them.

Fire Brns wrote:I was expelled from middle school, accused of planning a school shooting, based on jack shit all gossip from some of the popular students who disliked me for being one of the "weird kids" (i.e, having skipped a grade in math, participating in discussion with the teacher on class topics, etc.).

Well, do you think cars are bad because sometimes people commit hit-and-runs? Do you think alcohol is bad because some people act like dicks when they get drunk? Do you think the internet is bad because some people use it to trade child pornography or other bad things?

It sounds to me like you were the victim of bullying. That sucks, and I sympathize. And of course bullies use gossip as one of their weapons. But just because you were the victim of bad gossip doesn't make all gossip everywhere in every circumstance a bad thing.

brenok wrote:Jesus could have failed too:
Mattew 18,15 wrote:If your brother sins against you, go to him. Tell him what he did wrong. Keep it between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won him back.

Funny that you'd bring up Jesus. You do realize right that the entire new testament is based literally on gossip?

"There's this awesome guy, who once ... What? Oh, no, I never met him. But I know someone who met a guy who did. Anyway, this guy was really awesome, and you should know about him".
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby newaccount » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:55 am UTC

What really annoyed me about this was that it makes an implicit statement about the type of people who gossip like this.

There are, in my opinion, times and places to talk about someone without them being there. The ones in this comic rightfully seem malicious, but the way we interact with others about others is part of how we form friendships with both parties. Not all gossip has to be negative.

However, here there's a very clear statement about the people who partake in malicious gossip. The first group is sitting at a table and (judging by the shape of one of the glasses) appears to be having a few drinks. The second group is sitting on the ground and what looks like an armchair with much more "personality" drawn into them. They have more identifiable hair, or a beret. They're talking about giant squid. The implication is that the quirky nerd culture that Munroe and many of his readers would like to be seen as a part of is in some way "better" or less likely to be gossipy than "conventional" culture.

Frankly, it's utter dribble. What it comes down for me to is that it's a pretty banal point. Yes people who gossip are annoying, and you don't want to be associated with that group. Moreover, it doesn't work as comedic piece OR as a critical piece. It invites the sanctimonious "we" to one-sidedly proclaim superiority to "them", which as a comic is poor form (and somewhat akin to if less offensive than racist jokes) and as a critical piece doesn't make a claim that anyone can really disagree with.

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Dark Avorian » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:57 am UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:-snip-


Okay, just as a first point, anecdotal evidence is not the demon that you make it out to be. I suppose I could just have easily have framed it as a hypothetical, but concrete examples I know the details of are easier to talk about. Of course, you make a damn good point. Gossip can be used as a weapon and a vent, and it can so easily change from vent to weapon that it is easy to just toss it all in that category. Hell, maybe we should. But I guess I'd just make the point that in a lot of communities, I've seen gossip used more as a vent for tension. Everyone is a mix of positive and negative personality characteristics. Among my friends there are various negatives, various positives. One is super philosophical, another really ambitious and eager, another will spew random sports trivia all day long. They wouldn't be the people I know and love without those characteristics, but when every conversation turns into philosophy/newideaX/sports it can get a little annoying and it can help me be friends with them to vent that annoyance casually.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:10 am UTC

Dark Avorian wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:-snip-


Okay, just as a first point, anecdotal evidence is not the demon that you make it out to be. I suppose I could just have easily have framed it as a hypothetical, but concrete examples I know the details of are easier to talk about. Of course, you make a damn good point. Gossip can be used as a weapon and a vent, and it can so easily change from vent to weapon that it is easy to just toss it all in that category. Hell, maybe we should. But I guess I'd just make the point that in a lot of communities, I've seen gossip used more as a vent for tension. Everyone is a mix of positive and negative personality characteristics. Among my friends there are various negatives, various positives. One is super philosophical, another really ambitious and eager, another will spew random sports trivia all day long. They wouldn't be the people I know and love without those characteristics, but when every conversation turns into philosophy/newideaX/sports it can get a little annoying and it can help me be friends with them to vent that annoyance casually.

No, I'm fine with anecdotal evidence. Simply saying, as long as it's fair game, I think my "Hey, we all remember how this kind of stuff is well-documented as leading to despair, suicide, and institutionalized bigotry" is a stronger anecdote and reason to condemn gossip (i.e., idle chatter) compared to "Theoretically, it'll help you avoid a crappy date."

Especially since you can always avoid the crappy date by simply tracking down reliable info, rather than relying on a game of Telephone.

If it makes you feel better to gossip, then sure, it makes you feel better, but I honestly think that pales in comparison to the manners in which you would be tarnishing your friends' reputation to others and possibly damaging their chances of friendship with whoever you're talking to. It hardly seems worth the negatives to me, when there are so many other ways of venting.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Dark Avorian » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:23 am UTC

I would never talk about a friend in that venting way to anyone except a mutual friend I trust. I realize I'm still potentially harming them, but eh. I suppose we're really talking about different levels of gossip, although you should know your points have actually struck home for me. I guess I'm a little hypocritical in this way. The one person I would never vent about my annoyance at, the one person whose personality quirks induce a rage that I seal in a locked vault in the darkest recesses of my soul, is the person who broke the confidence of the lighthearted discussion about another person. I guess that's a wierd way of going about life. Anyway, I maintain that there are many things about my personality I'd rather people talk about behind my back than try and change in me.

EDIT: I guess this is me grasping at straws trying to justify something I know is wrong.
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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby webgiant » Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:00 am UTC

addams wrote:Do you think Mr. Monroe reads the conversations we have on the forum?

<scoot scoot>

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Re: 1176: "Those Not Present"

Postby Dark Avorian » Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:20 am UTC

Can I just scoot in response to every conversation?
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