Humans have developed this incredible ability to read each other’s voices. By listening closely to someone’s accent, we can make guesses about their age, gender, nationality, social status, the languages they speak, and even where they went to school. Unfortunately, this finely-honed skill also has a dark side. As an accent can tell us so much about a person, we often attribute qualities to that person based on their voice, just as we often make assumptions about a person based on how they look.
If I judge someone (including myself) to the highest degree, then no one else can first. If I make a hilarious, self-detrimental comment, then people can only laugh with me, not at me. And a lot of the time, they do. I’ve made my friends, my coworkers, random people around me at Starbucks, laugh with the judgmental things I’ve said.
Much of the work that I have been doing recently has concentrated on various facets of this question:
Inventing Berlin asks how street names and monuments communicate who should feel like they belong in the urban landscape,
A revised version of my essay for the Hacking Urban Furniture project examines the normative aspects of street furniture and how that shapes how we use public space, and
My new role as lead expert for the URBACT action planning network “Gendered Landscapes” will explore the gendered aspects of urban planning and urban life.
To get academic for a minute, there is a social constructionist assumption at the core of all three of these works: the environment shapes the subject, in particular when aspects of the environment become banal, invisible, or taken for granted.
The environment around us is not simply the process of natural, environmental forces. Especially in cities, the environment which…
I know I should write a better introduction, but fuck that. We’re on my turf here. I don’t want to put effort into this introduction, and you can’t make me.
Acknowledge the value of diplomacy and tact
Honesty doesn’t have to be brutal, but it has to hurt sometimes. Life is pain (but not always).
Hitting people with brutal honesty then claiming “I’m not an asshole, I’m just honest” is a dick move if you get validation from the brutality as much as from the honesty.
Unless you’re on the autism spectrum, you have the natural ability to read social cues that inform you on how to behave. Use it. There’s no point in unnecessarily crossing boundaries or pissing people off to fuel self-righteousness.