Say What You Want, But That Jerk Had StylePosted: January 30, 2014
I spotted a truck the other day that had two bumper stickers on it. One sticker said “I’m not tailgating, I’m drafting” a reference to the practice of race drivers following inches behind an opponent to gain an advantage. The other sticker said “if you tailgate me I will brake you”.
So on one truck we find two messages announcing the driver’s intent to commit acts that are in direct opposition to each other and equally unsafe. He plans to drive entirely too close to cars in front of him, making a collision more likely, but justifies it by saying he fancies himself a race car driver. He also intends to mete out justice to those he feels are driving too close to him by hitting his brakes to force a collision.
What a jerk. Being both pro and anti-tailgating is impossible. Do you know what’s wrong with people like him? He will not commit to a particular style of being a jerk.
Even Those People Have Style
Everyone has a style. I read the work of favorite authors because of their styles. When I see certain musicians have new albums I buy them, because I enjoy their styles. My friends expect that I will do certain things in certain ways; they know my style.
I even respect the styles of those I don’t like. Once I worked for a self-serving jerk who didn’t realize that everyone he supervised saw through his façade of caring for his subordinates. I didn’t like the man, but I respected that he was consistent. He took an equally superior attitude with everyone “beneath him”. When he dealt with me, he was equally unlikable every time. I liked that. We both understood how the transaction would be; it allowed me to be more efficient at my job and handling him.
Bieber, Now There’s A Jerk With Style
I’ll take the concept a little further by examining everyone’s favorite, Justin Bieber. Mr. B has begun the inevitable death spiral of all teen heart throbs. But instead of slipping away quietly and living off of the disposable income he was able to leach out of the pockets of millions of young girls, he has chosen to be a jerk about it.
The odds of Bieber and I being in the same place are mercifully low. But I know from what I’ve seen that he has elected to conduct himself as a jerk who considers himself privileged by his position in the world. So, if he and I were trapped in an elevator together I would know how I would handle him because he is consistent. I think we could co-exist until someone came and let us out of the elevator.
Now there may be someone who says “I’m not going to commit to a jerk genre because people will be ready for my game”. What that person doesn’t realize is that when people are not ready for rude behavior, the long-term outcome for the rude person is not good.
The key to being a successful jerk is commitment to style. Nice folks have to know what these rude people stand for with their boorish behavior. When jerks fail to commit to a style, likeable people (for example, people who read Blurt) have no script to help them control their own frustration. Jerks who have not committed to a genre are more prone to being dismissed in ways they’re not prepared to handle.
If you insist on being a jerk, be who you are. Know that the rest of us would appreciate it if you were more like us. But if gaining the disdain of polite society is your goal, focus on the craft of being a jerk. Be a rich young fool, an arrogant tailgater or even a loud boor. Specialize in a particular rude behavior pattern.
Most of all, be consistent and maybe some day someone will say “you’re a jerk, but you’ve got style”. That’s the best you can hope for because, seriously, no one likes a jerk.