The 4 Ways That Pretentious People Try To Impress You
For some people, being themselves is never good enough. It's guaranteed that you've met dozens of people like this in your life, starting way back in grade school with that one kid who just discovered lying and couldn't tell the truth if his life depended on it, all the way up to today with someone at work or in your family who's always late -- not because they slept in, but because a yak escaped from the zoo and tried to mate with their car on their freeway. They have to spin yarns about how unusual and weird their lives are, because a normal life like the rest of us have just isn't good enough. And quite often, they'll pick one of these four ways to express their complete bullshittery to you.
I happen to live near several First Nations reservations and know a good number of Native people. Never once have I met one who boasted of being one-eighth Swedish. However, a lot of white people are pretty stoked that their great-great-great-great-grandfather may have had an illicit affair with / raped a Cherokee princess, and that's why they could probably handle a bow and arrow if a zombie apocalypse ever shows up.
In 2000, about 729,000 Americans identified as Cherokee. By 2010, that number had risen to 820,000. More than any other tribe, Cherokee is the one people are pretty sure they have an ancestor from, despite not being able to name the ancestor or show any proof of such an ancestor, because such an ancestor never existed. It's not just guys who squint in the sun and look like Steven Seagal who think this way, either. Celebrities like Johnny Deep, Johnny Cash, and Miley Cyrus have all been pretty sure they're Cherokee as well.
A heritage they have always treated with the respect it deserves.
So if your boss isn't Cherokee, why does he keep telling people he is every Thanksgiving? There's a long, robust history behind this bullshit that first stems from a hint of reality and then gets shat about by idjits, as is the case with most things. Cherokee Indians had been living in the southeast U.S. for about 600 years by the time Europeans showed up. And being a savvy people, they started marrying Europeans to solidify trade deals and other such business relationships, the way people did back in the day.
Then one day the Trail of Tears happened. The government didn't want any Native tribes just wandering around doing as they pleased, and tried to usher them all together in a forced upheaval. The Cherokee, as it happens, were some of the most educated amongst the tribes at the time, and were also some of the most resistant to their forced displacement. Now picture this idea of an educated group of individuals and businesspeople, in the South, being told by the government that they couldn't stay in their homes and fighting to resist it. In the South, the Cherokee became heroic figures -- fighting the government that tried to take their land and tell them how to live. Combine this with their openness to living with and intermarrying with other cultures, and they were just the friendliest, coolest kids on the block. Who wouldn't want to be part Cherokee?
Probably these guys, right about then.
White Southerners began claiming Cherokee ancestry as a sort of social status. They had a Cherokee princess grandmother who fought against the meddlesome government, despite the fact there's no such thing as a princess in Cherokee culture.
A more sinister motive lies in how, after the Trail of Tears, members of the Cherokee Nation were entitled to compensation from the federal government. And if people exploiting tragedies in modern times have taught us nothing else, it's that people love exploiting tragedies. If you could just claim to be Cherokee and get some cash back in the day, why not? Of course, most false claims were rejected, because the Cherokee have impeccable records about bloodlines and ancestry. But that's not going to stand in the way of confused white people. Because since the Cherokee are the perfect mixed of oppressed, light-skinned, and "civilized," they really appealed to those who wanted a little exotic flavor in their family tree, but didn't want to resort to seeming unsavory in any way. So next time someone claims to be part Cherokee but can't accurately detail their family tree, which they should be able to do, feel free to point all of this out.
Changing Eye Color
Ever met someone who couldn't tell you what color their eyes are? Not because they never look at their own face, but because, like an ocular chameleon, their eye color changes from green to blue to aquamarine to puce at the drop of a hat? Because they have Gandalf eyes, and no mere stable color can be applied to them? It's not an unusual phenomenon; a lot of people claim their eyes will shift all over the spectrum based on mood or time of day or whatever. You know, real science stuff.
As long as you're an insect.
As near as I am able to figure, people who claim to have mood rings for eyes just do so because they feel it adds a layer of mystery to them. You can't nail them down with a single eye color like the rest of us schlubs, oh no. They're fancy-free and oozing pantones. You're more unique if you don't have a single eye color. But unless you're a husky or David Bowie, chances are your eyes do not change color. Because eyes don't change color. You get about a solid year after you're born during which time the pigment in your eyes develops and settles, and those are the eyes you're stuck with until a tragic melon baller accident robs you of one.
Also, Bowie's eyes got that way because someone punched him in the face, so maybe think twice.
Ophthalmology says that hormone changes in puberty or pregnancy can slightly alter your pigmentation for a little while, and as you age, if you have very light-colored eyes, they may fade a bit. But your blue eyes will never turn green, or vice versa.
If this news ruins the day of any free-spirited pottery majors or cryptozoologists, know that it is possible to alter the perception of your eye color with things like lighting and clothing changes. Wear complimentary colors or eye makeup to make those peepers pop, and you'll be looking like the fictional character you think you are in no time!
Past Pain And Hardship
One of the most bizarre kinds of people you will ever meet is the person who has traded in empathy for one-upmanship. Say, have you had a pretty decent life overall? Maybe a few years of struggling financially to get on your feet? Maybe a bout of sickness that was a little scary? Cool. This person was once shot 12 times. Anyway, tell me more about that bad flu you had.
At least once in your life, you must have encountered one of these people for whom happiness is like the sun to a vampire, and who instead opt to cloak themselves in gloom and suffering, ostensibly to make you feel something for them. While you were enjoying a daiquiri by the pool, they were being crushed under the weight of a collapsing apartment building for three solid days before a rescue dog found them. You got a B in science? Their arm was ripped off by wolverines. You once met the band Sugar Ray? They were beaten into a coma by the band Smash Mouth.
When they woke up, all the people had disappeared and there were zombies everywhere. They've seen some stuff, okay?
A certain breed of older person often will take this approach to life as well -- usually less with physical pain as an example and more with hardships endured, though pain can certainly be included. After all, grandpa did have to walk 30 miles to school through fields of frozen polio every day. You think that shit was easy?
Odds are Grandpa walked a half mile down the road to a bus stop, but maybe he remembers it differently. It's worth noting that if you actually measure out something like a half-mile and ask a ten-year-old to walk it, they'll probably assume you just made them walk at least three miles.
In some cases, lies are used as object lessons. The generally harmless lie that your grandpa had a much harder childhood than you did isn't killing anyone, and odds are he did have some things harder. Why he lived so far away from the school is anyone's guess, as is how his winters were worse than the ones we have today. But he's not the person telling you these stories to seem cool and mysterious. More than likely, what we're talking about here is that guy from work who doesn't quite fit in, and in his mind, this is a cool way of letting you know how badass cool he really is. So he tells you about the time he got bitten by 15 snakes.
"Where do you think I got this jacket? You can't just walk into a store and buy this crap."
Self-esteem is one of the biggest motivators for lying, according to psychology. Your lack of it makes you make up things to boost your self-esteem. If real you isn't cool, then fake you is going to be Superfly awesome. The problem ends up being that all these self-aggrandizing lies are less impressive and more off-putting to everyone else after you've gone through about a dozen of them and it's pretty clear you're full of shit. Then you've lost your chance to maybe at least be the nice guy with no interesting stories, and instead become the weird guy who thinks he wrestled a bear.
Pop Culture Obliviousness
I was once a solid four minutes into a pretty decent breakdown of Game Of Thrones and its use of sexual violence to reflect real-world wartime atrocities when the person I was sharing my illustrious opinions with chose to let me know that they don't watch Game Of Thrones, had never seen Game Of Thrones, and, most egregiously of all, they don't even have a TV. They then countered my four minutes of exceptional and thought-provoking material with nearly 10 minutes of nonsense, up to and including the completely irrelevant revelation that they didn't know who George Clooney was.
He's the father of my make-believe babies, you jackass.
You don't need to own a TV to live in the world with the rest of us, but you should have a degree of awareness that there is a pop culture world around you. Why? Is it important to know anything about the Kardashians? In fact, it is. Not to watch their show or know the difference between Khloe and Kublai Khan, but to know they are a thing, like cysts or undercooked meats, that have an effect on other people in the world and may even alter their behaviors. Pop culture, now more than ever, has a staggering influence over culture in general. Also, George Clooney is so fucking talented and handsome that you'd be a fool to not know who he is.
Just recently, Leslie Jones of SNL and Ghostbusters quit Twitter for a brief period of time due to the incessant and nearly unbelievable storm of racist bullshit that was being sent her way. That whole sentence was mired in pop culture but terribly, tragically reflective of culture and society as a whole in 2016. Racism in America is a massive, widespread cancer, and arguably far worse than people wanted to pretend or believe even as little as five years ago. It's thanks to forums like Twitter, where news of cops shooting black people spreads within seconds of the event, that we're brought to the forefront of the reality we could pretend wasn't so before we had this instantaneous way of sharing information.
Or you can just use it to find out when your dreams have been crushed.
So being outside the loop of pop culture doesn't make someone enlightened in any way. These non-moviegoers and TV haters are no more intellectual or avant-garde than the rest of us. If anything they're obstinate and wallowing in self-aggrandizing ignorance. They've deliberately chosen to ignore a massive part of the world in which they live, to not expose themselves to an entire genre of knowledge, under the guise that it somehow elevates them. Well, I call bullshit.
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