Re: E X P O N E N T --December 2001 Members Newsletter

Date: Tue Dec 11 2001 - 22:44:01 MST

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

"" wrote:
> Eliezer said:
> > I reaffirm my own declaration that (a) I cannot be harmed by words, *any*
> > words, no matter how constituted and (b) if I can be harmed by words, it's
> > my own problem. But that's a declaration that I have to make for myself,
> > not a default state of affairs.
> Certainly this sentiment is not novel, or even unique.
> It is my responsibility to exclude people from my life who intentionally or subconsciously say things to me or about me that are rude. It is also my responsibility to do something about it. How one takes actions speak a hell of a lot louder than the feebleminded words of someone whose intention is to attempt to lash out and defame. ¡§Turn the other cheek¡¨ is another phrase told to me as a child. I¡¦d rather not have two bruised cheeks -ƒº<

The above philosophy I cite above does not logically exclude reacting to
deliberate personal attacks. It just means that the reason for which you
are reacting is not that you were personally hurt, but rather that you are
trying to defend a reputation you have previously decided is valuable,
that you are trying to maintain list quality on a list you care about, or
even that you are simply trying to win an argument you think is important.

Precisely. Being "hurt" by someone's words has little advantage and produces little result. Hurt becomes resentment and resentment eats away at the lining of our logic. But, this is not what I implied. Each person has some level of sensitivity to the use of words when laced together in a manner that kicks the sacred cow in you and me and all else, except for a person who is a sociopath.

>I usually try to distinguish between things-that-would-have-been-hurtful
which were sincerely meant and those which were simply attempted personal
attacks. For example, it's pretty easy to distinguish between sincerely
meant condescending advice and condescending advice which is intended as a
personal attack - the former is sent in a private email.<

I welcome sincerely meant constructive criticism. But more importantly, I consider who is doing the giving or talking. If someone who is very bright but has little life experience is advising me to do a or b, and I know she or he has no idea of c or d, I'll probably just smile and wonder why he or she didn't walk in my shoes first.

Bottom line with the list is that while the best advise for anyone is to not take personal attacks personally, they are personal attacks so not taking it personally is a one can minus the pack.

My philosophy is to consider it (rather than having any hard and fast rules that may paint you into a corner) and consider the source. I don't mind being told I'm fucked, if indeed I am fucked. But the issue of transference does happen and most folks lash out when they are experiencing their own inadequacies and want to see someone else stumble.

If Ray Kurzweil or Roy Walford told me I was a stupid bitch, I might not be hurt, per se, but I'd certainly be annoyed (after I checked to see if either one had had some sort of psychological breakdown) -:) The fact is that I would not expect either Ray or Roy to ever speak to me so foolishly. Rather, I think they would pull me aside and speak with me respectfully.

Lastly, anyone who lashes out at me isn't worth my time-valued investment. Words cannot harm me or you or anyone, our own insecurities can do great damage with our without someone else's flapping tongue.


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