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Sometimes people like things. You probably like things, despite all your efforts to erect a thick facade of irony around your entire life. And why not? Things are awesome.

Sven Storbeck via Wikimedia Commons
Well. Some of them are just OK.

But sometimes, because of their personal failings, people like things that aren't very awesome. After all, people are idiots. But you're probably not. And yet here we are, with your wise and correct opinions about to land you in all sorts of awkwardness when you tell your friend about how shitty their own opinions are.

To avoid that awkwardness, here are a few tips on how to talk to someone who likes something which you hate. And for the misanthropes among you, a few tips on how to amplify that awkwardness greatly.

5
If You Don't Like A Creative Work

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The first and least-difficult example is when your friend or colleague or house-elf enjoys a creative work that you don't. By "creative work," I mean a movie or a book or a TV show or something like that. Whatever it is, the important thing is that they love it and you hate it, and that you are correct.

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"Shrek 3 was OK."
"No! I'll kill you!"

How To Be Cool About It

The first rule of thumb here is to not just butt into someone's conversation to inform them what a crappy, stupid movie they like. This is irritating. On the internet it's a form of trolling, and in the real world it's just basic assholery. Let the people enjoy their stupid thing. Even though your opinion about why it's flaming garbage is correct, the friction you'll cause in in whatever relationship you have with this person isn't worth the nonexistent benefit you'll get from correcting them.

But! If they ask your opinion, or otherwise give you the slightest invitation to enter their conversation about it, then yeah, go ahead, fire away.

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"It's poo, and you are poo for liking it!"

Provided you don't get too violent with your commentary, you're not out of bounds here. They did ask for your opinion, after all. And disagreeing about movies and books is kind of fun! This can lead to all sorts of fun and insightful conversations about how movies or books can be made better or worse.

How To Be Kind Of a Jerk About It

That thing I said earlier about waiting for an invitation? Don't do that. Get a megaphone. Spray your opinion all over people from a great height. Walk into a book club and start ripping things in half.

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"More like Dostoy-crap-sky!"

Even if they don't come around to accepting your opinion about why their beloved object is terrible, you can still ruin their enjoyment of it, and thus become the winner.

4
If You Don't Like Their Creative Work

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This is a much more delicate situation, although if you don't make things yourself, you might not understand how delicate it is. The amount of effort and emotional energy that goes into making something is staggering. Just as an example, this simple column took 200 people the better part of a year to write.

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57 died during its construction.

Yes, creators understand they will be subject to criticism, and we've got techniques for handling that -- whether it's ignoring it or ritualized self-injury or whatever. But getting criticism is never fun, and it always hurts that little bit more when it comes from someone you know.

How To Be Cool About It

Again, if no one asks for your opinion (about how shitty and untalented they are), don't give it to them. If it's a friend or relative, that seems obvious, but even if it's a stranger on the internet, your criticism won't be welcome, helpful, or even read. I basically ignore all the hate mail I receive from dudes angry that their wives left them after they read my terrific new novel and became infatuated with me and my muscular, throbbing prose.

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"How dare you make my wife laugh so throatily, sir."

Even when someone does ask for your feedback, you're not going to want to be too cruel, unless they made, like, Shrek 3 or something. There's a feedback technique called "sandwich criticism" that can come in handy here. The idea is that you start with something you like, then get to the meat of your complaint (how much their thing sucks), before concluding with something else you liked.

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"I liked your use of ... vowels, I hated everything else, but then I felt relief when it was over."

How To Be Kind Of a Jerk About It

Obviously, you can take the shackles off and just cut loose, going into all their work's flaws in excruciating detail. But there's potential here to do so much more. Try to direct your criticism to make it clear that you're not criticizing their work, but them as a person.

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"It's not personal; I'm just trying to protect the rest of humanity from you."

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3
If You Don't Like Their Politics

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This has become a bigger issue in the past few years, as our politics have become more and more polarized. We seem to have moved past the stage where we can respectfully disagree with each other, or even understand where someone else is coming from. Now, if someone doesn't share most of your political beliefs, then they are fucking crazy, and there's no reasoning with them at all. It's all just fire and knife attacks now, and with so little room for disagreement, there's not much else to do but strike first.

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"So it's come to this, Uncle Jeffrey."

How To Be Cool About It

The prevailing wisdom is to just ignore the disagreement as best as you can and then slowly distance yourself from that friend or relative, retreating to your tribe of like-minded thinkers. And that feels kind of sad, doesn't it? Like it's the root of these problems in the first place. But if the alternative is yet another conversation about Benghazi with Uncle Jeffrey, maybe a hasty retreat is the best you can hope for.

How To Be Kind Of a Jerk About It

So there's this thing now at protests and political rallies in which, during every argument or confrontation, people get out their cellphones and start recording everything, desperate to collect video evidence that proves how rotten the other side is. It's obnoxious, and a little bit threatening, when someone waves a cellphone in your face, recording your every word.

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Just fucking try something, Coldplay.

So do that! Also, I don't know, shriek "Fascist!" at them or something. Doesn't matter what they believe. We're using that to describe basically everyone now.

2
If You Don't Like Their Kid

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Children are, in many senses of the term, all over the place. They're adorable until you get close to them, at which point they become awful, until for a split second they're amazing, but then they set fire to the dog. They are the future, and they are also the worst. There's no shame in not liking someone else's kid. But is there any shame in admitting it?

How To Be Cool About It

No, not at all. Just tell the parents how rotten their kid is. They probably secretly don't like their kid either.

How To Be Kind Of a Jerk About It

Tell the kid too. In front of their friends.

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"I'm glad you all could be here. Your friend Rachel is a prick."

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1
If You Don't Like Their New Lover

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The trickiest thing with criticizing someone's new lover is getting through to them. People generally don't like hearing criticism about their bedtime buddies, and especially when it's a new relationship, there are powerful things going on in their hormone-filled, serotonin-pumping, fuck-crazed brains which will prevent them from hearing anything negative at all.

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Essentially, they will give the finger to all involved parties.

How To Be Cool About It

You have to very careful here. Your criticism could put your friend in the position of having to choose between their gross new lover and you. And that's not a decision you'll often win. Sure, you're a treasured friend or relative or psychiatrist or whatever. But you don't give the fuck, do you?

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"HIS BEAUTIFUL, MASCULINE NIPPLES ARE WRONG FOR YOU, KAREN."

So you need to go about things in a roundabout way. Direct some jokes or criticisms at your own awful lover first, to prod them to consider the flaws in theirs. Remind them of old relationships that didn't work out and why, drawing parallels with their current partner. But don't spell it out; try to get them to assemble the pieces themselves.

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"Oh man, I'm dating a me that traveled back from the future, aren't I?"

How To Be Kind Of a Jerk About It

Using wigs and deceit, take the place of your friend's new lover, then break up with them. Not only does this end their hated, incorrect relationship, but it will also leave you completely blameless. As a bonus, you can use this opportunity to deploy additional blame-free criticism about any of their other qualities.

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"Also, you wear too much perfume, and Shrek 3 was garbage, and both your short stories and your son have pacing problems."

Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and full of correct opinions. The author of the science fiction novel Severance, his next novel, Freeze/Thaw is available right now! Holy shit! Join him on Facebook or Twitter.

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