Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

I'm Judging You for Reading This

I dismiss most of the online quizzes people reference in their journals as harmless time-wasters and a form of self-absorption that is beyond boring in the recounting. But sometimes there's a premise that appeals to me and I check the quiz out. Today I was surprised enough at the results of one of these quizzes (which I found in cheerfulchaotic's journal) to report it publicly, because, amazingly enough, it reflects something that real people in real life have told me (both explicitly and implicitly).

The questionnaire I filled out is intended to define what sort of friend you are, based on your answers to how you'd behave in a variety of situations. Some of the situations I've actually encountered, so my answers were not theoretical. The test determined that I am of the friendship type "The Rock", very high on constructiveness and selflessness and very low on supportiveness. Most of the explanation was of the generalized astrology ego-stroking blather sort ("You listen to [your friends], you carefully weigh what they tell you, you offer honest, blunt, constructive advice to make any situation better, you help them when called upon, and you'd stick with them through rain, sleet, snow, or the apocalypse." -- who doesn't think that about themself?), but then came this:

The only problem here is that you may get a little smug sometimes, and some people just won't like you. They'll feel like you're judging them.

This is followed by: "But it's mostly balanced when you smile that inscrutable smile and ask, 'Can I help?' And then -- here's the really good part -- you usually do help." Yeah yeah, probably true, but who wouldn't have that as part of their self-image as well, like the bit about the sticking with your friends? No, I'm still amazed at the judgment comment. I'm particularly amazed that the phrasing used by the very clever author of this quiz doesn't say that my answers indicate that I judge, but that my behavior makes people feel like I'm judging them. And that, I have to say, is quite true.

I have had the experience of people being reluctant to tell me about, for example, their sexual encounters because, as they sometimes say, they fear I will not approve. I'm actually quite flattered -- even stunned -- that my approval even matters, however misplaced this fear is, but what's funny to me is that when I do get the stories what I see pretty plainly is that people are judging themselves, by seeing themselves in what they imagine to be my eyes.

I'm not entirely sure why this should be so (although I have my theories), but it certainly has been so for many years, for more than an isolated friend or two, and for additional subjects besides sexual encounters. And here a silly little Internet quiz calls it out. How intriguing.
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