Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Just Kidding

What follows is just a little bit of a rant about the way a certain phrase is being used lately.

I get more than a little irritated when people misuse and abuse language. Here’s an example that I’ve seen happen a few times a week for the last several months and even been the unwitting victim of the exchange quite a few times too.

Person A, “Hey I’ll trade you that watch for this used popsicle stick.”

Person B, “No way!”

Person A, “Yeah I was just kidding.”

The watch and the popsicle are just examples. Substitute the watch with anything of value and the popsicle stick for anything of substantially less value or no value at all. The conversation typically takes this form. Person A proposes a very lopsided deal. Once rejected A then attempts to camouflage the scam as if it was just a joke. My irritation comes at the use of the phrase “just kidding”. I wonder if B had accepted the deal would A have accepted the watch. If so, then was A really kidding? I think not. In every situation I’ve seen A was completely serious and would have followed through with the lopsided deal if B had accepted. So they were not kidding. They only chose to claim that they were kidding once they had been caught. “Just kidding” seems to be used as a poor substitute for “I’m sorry to have even proposed such a lopsided deal. Please forgive me.”

I recently had somebody propose a deal to me that was very much not in my favor and opened me up to some serious liability. I promptly declined the offer. They followed by saying, “I don’t blame you. If I were you I wouldn’t have done it either.” Really? They openly confessed that they knew the deal was not fair but they followed through with it anyway.

Yeah I know this is kinda petty. I just find it irritating. Whether you call it The Golden Rule, Kant ‘s Categorical Imperative or any of the other names that it goes by treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you would accept the deal if it went in your favor then you were not “just kidding” you were being manipulative. And if you wouldn’t accept the deal if it was offered to you then don’t offer a deal that you know is unfair.

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