Also Known As ...
"Oh, these old rags? It's just some old clothes I threw together" and "You like my crappy drawing? It's just something I farted out in an hour."
This one is so subtle that if we didn't devote any serious thought or analysis to it, it would slip right by most of us, completely unnoticed. It normally only gets a surface glance because it comes across as very innocent and forgettable. The reason is because it sounds like we're just being gracious for the compliment, but we're also being humble in accepting it, saying that we didn't intend for the target of the praise to be anything special. We weren't striving for glory -- we were just going about our daily lives when this thing that you liked happened to fall out of our ass along the way.
But that's actually where the problem lies. What we're actually saying, even if it's only on a subconscious level, is that this thing that the other person liked -- the thing that they thought was good enough to give us vocal praise -- came out that awesome with virtually no effort on our part. So if that was created while we were just half-assed dicking around, imagine what we could do if we really put in the time and effort!
"Man, I could headline packed, standing-room-only venues!"
"You can't even fathom the amount of pure, untapped talent that I have bottled up inside of me. If I ever choose to unleash it, the world will never be the same."
Why That's Dangerous
It's a means of setting up yet another safety net that prevents us from committing to a full-on effort of any sort for any project. Rejection sucks, and in any profession or classroom, it is absolutely going to happen. In the gritty, real adult world, there is no such thing as someone pitching a perfect game. We are going to eventually have an off day, or accidentally over-season a dish, or sing a bad note, or ejaculate too early on our porn set ... any one of a billion reasons for putting out subpar work.
Google was down ...
We're human, and that's a hard bitch of a reality to admit. That faults are expected of everyone because they are as unavoidable as a boner at the Tomb Raider booth at Comic-Con. But for many people, that rejection, or even the idea of having to face failure, is unbearable, so we insinuate a wealth of hidden talent that we're just too humble to display.
So now, if we actually do try but happen to put out something shitty, that same fallback line is right there for easy use: "You don't like it? Oh, that's totally understandable and expected. I barely even put any thought or effort into it. It's just a throwaway thing I did for shits and giggles and not worthy of judgment." It's a near perfect means of avoiding ownership of failure, and that's not good for anyone who plans on getting better at their craft or just growing as a person. We all have to be able to step back, accept those occasional shortcomings and learn what kung fu style we need to use in order to kick their ass. To recognize them for what they are and say "What can I do to eliminate those mistakes on the next project?"
Get a better phone?
There are people out there who get so deeply rooted into this type of thinking that they sabotage entire school careers with it. Doing everything half-assed because the idea of failing is so horrifying, they can't allow themselves to be put into that position. It's better to be putting out average work with flippant attempts than to put your entire heart into a project and have it crushed with a bad review.
Also Known As ...
"I don't take shit from anyone" and "I say what I want. If other people can't handle the truth, they can fuck off!"
I've known soooo many people like this. The Internet is saturated with them. And let's get this straight right off the bat: It is NOT the same as "I speak my mind" or "I'm opinionated." Huge difference. Being opinionated or outspoken is a perfectly legitimate personality type, even if it's annoying to some people. What I'm talking about is the needlessly aggressive bullshit where a person tries to justify being an asshole by wearing it as a badge of honor. Guys who say, "Yeah, I know I'm a dick -- who cares?" Using it as a sign of toughness and strength. Or girls who hold up "I'm a bitch" as a false torch, confusing it for "strong" and "independent."
People treat it as if it were a heightened level of dominance that others should strive to achieve. It is not. It's being combative, purely out of a love for confrontation. There's a rush a person feels when they verbally beat down someone else and make them concede their point of view. What that person doesn't realize is that most of the time, the only reason the other person is backing down is because it's the closest exit from the conversation and the annoying mouth that it's escaping.
"You're such a dumbass, thinking you could have a political debate with a guy like me. Stupid."
I don't know who decided that this is a desirable personality type, but it seems to me that the only people who honestly think that are the ones who are that way. In reality, it's a coward's means of not owning up to the fact that they never learned how to speak to or respect another human. A way of covering up the fact that they never learned lessons that the rest of us learned at age 8.
The sad part is that this is an extremely easy frame of mind to fall into because every conversation turns into a competition, and the reward for "winning" is feeling like the world's smartest badass. It's walking in, thinking you're Dwayne Johnson:
And walking out feeling like the Rock:
"Seriously, do you smell what I'm cookin'? Or are you just pretending to get a whiff?"
Why That's Dangerous
Once you fall into that pattern of communication, it's virtually impossible to concede anything to anyone in almost any situation. Not just the people you're comfortable with, like family and friends, but people of actual authority, like bosses, police officers and the government agency tasked with greenlighting your methods of curing homosexuality.
Once "I'm a badass whose will can never be bent" sets in, you've actively placed yourself in a position where, in your mind, you are always right, and nobody can convince you otherwise. The real trap is that we've created a culture that promotes this as a lovable, quirky character, rather than a festering, infected pus sack of a human. Dr. House is a classic example. Dwight from The Office. Bender from The Breakfast Club. Han Solo. The list is miles long.
In real life, it's hard for anyone to stand beside you when you need them because you're such an inexcusable prick that you've created a world where people prefer that a catastrophe keeps you away from them. Instead of extending a hand to help you up, they picture extending a foot to crush your windpipe.
But you don't care -- you're an asshole, and you're proud of it. Fuck anyone who doesn't agree with your attitude. They just can't handle how edgy you are.
John has a Twitter, where he regularly types random things that he's usually ashamed of later.
For more Cheese, check out 5 Unexpected Causes of Awkward Conversations With Your Kids and 5 Unhelpful People You Meet in Every Hospital.