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Reblogged:Return Awkward to Sender: An Example

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A favorite mantra of mine that I owe Jennifer Peepas, aka Captain Awkward, is "Return awkward to sender." Although she probably wouldn't put it this way, it can be a handy way to remember who is being polite and who is being rude when an altruist shows up and starts demanding favors.

This is especially important, because in our culture, practically anyone who isn't an altruist is undergoing the processes of re-thinking morality, integrating that understanding into one's daily life, waiting for their emotional responses to catch up with their principles, and -- often -- recovering psychologically from such problems as unearned guilt.

One can (and should!) find plenty of good examples simply by site-searching her blog, but a recent post offered a good and humorous example in reply to a reader whose parents were pressuring her and her sibling to offer part-time housing for someone neither particularly wanted to live with:

This emphaically includes self-love. (Image by Yu Hosoi, via Unsplash, license.)
If people -- your parents, other people in the church community -- use words like "selfish" to try to manipulate you into reconsidering, don't fall for the 'neg.' Embrace the word -- "Oh, ha, yes, that's me, the selfish one! But, I'm afraid it still won't work for me to have him stay here. Perhaps he can stay with you instead if you're so keen it, I'll suggest that next time we talk!" Sometimes it's fun to watch all the blood drain out of a human face when you suggest that they take on the favor they were trying to bully you into. [emphasis in original]
And do note the attention given to the word selfish. This isn't exactly an intransigent stand for rational egoism, but it might perhaps be one of many examples in the wild of Ayn Rand's influence wending its way through the culture via the better strands of the self-improvement movement.

But yes, I love the image of someone trying to call someone else's shots getting a taste of their own medicine! And I'll have a new trick up my sleeve the next time someone tries something like this on anyone I know and care about.

-- CAV

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