Am I unreasonable?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Am I unreasonable?
140
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 3:51am
So this kind of scenario happens often where I live. I will be out somewhere in public and some random stranger, nearly always male, will say hello or otherwise attempt to engage me in conversation. I will respond minimally, if at all, and nine times out of ten the person who spoke to me berates me for being rude.

I think they are the one who was being rude by trying to engage me in conversation when it was completely uninvited and unprovoked. I think it's rude to do so with the expectation of full reciprocation. I think if you are going to randomly try to chat up strangers you should be able to accept that they may not always WANT to talk to you, and may not appreciate feeling forced to. I am not an outgoing person. I especially do not feel comfortable around men having been a victim of rape and sexual assault several times. It takes a lot for me to trust people, and being addressed by a stranger feels like an invasion of my personal space and is frankly kind of scary. I once had a guy follow me off a bus and for several blocks, yelling at me for not responding to him. (I had headphones on, but I didn't want to talk to him anyway.)

One might say, well how hard is it to just say hi back? Well, sometimes when you do they take it as an invitation to engage you further, and I have no desire to encourage that. To turn it around, how hard is it to leave someone alone if they obviously don't want to talk to you? It really makes me not want to ever leave the house.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 1:15pm
The social norm where I live is to not make eye contact and not make uneccessary conversation with strangers. When people try to buck that norm it doesn't just bother me, it bothers a lot of people.

I do usually try to respond anyway, but there are times when I can't (if I sense aggression behind the greeting) and there are times when I flat out do not want to (if I have reason to believe the person is under the influence or mentally unstable). I can usually tell the difference between someone who is new/visiting and doesn't understand the social norms, vs. someone who knows it, resents it, and takes it out on everyone they can.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 5:57pm

>>Years ago I saw a psychologist once a week and she remarked one day thatevery time I walked in she would ask me how I was doing and I always said "fine" even though it was clear I was not fine.<<

I think your psychologist was guilty of overanalysing.   Though I guess that's what they are paid to do ;-)    Your response of "fine" is perfectly normal and acceptable.   Heck, I do exactly the same thing when I go to the doctor - I say "fine" at the door and then tell him the truth when I sit down.

>>Words have meaning, even if we pretend they don't<< 

There's that literal thing again.    We use sentences and words which are not literal all the time.  I have a child who is autistic and I work with other kids on the spectrum....and I've come to realise just how often we use words and phrases which are not meant to be taken literally. And this just confuses those who are on the spectrum.   The phrase "zip your lips" comes to mind.   The autistic mind will get confused by this because they see meaning in the word 'zip' but they know that we don't have a zipper in our lips.    Likewise, you are seeing meaning where none was intended.

This greeting is simply a custom with no intent.   You may give those words meaning, but the vast majority of us do not.   It's simply a friendly greeting - nothing more, nothing less.   It's your choice to give the words more meaning than the intent with which they are used.  However the result is to walk around permanently misunderstanding other people's intentions.   

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 6:06pm
I do not have one single other symptom of autism. I have two close friends with Asperger's and that is not me. The fact that it bothers me that some words are overused to the point of losing meaning does not make me autistic. I do understand the intention behind the question, it just annoys me because I hate lying. I appreciate your concern, but you could not be more incorrect here.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 6:36pm

No, you may not be autistic...but you're certainly taking an autistic view of the issue ;-)    Lighten up and try not to be so literal about things which are not intended to be literal.

I guess it comes down to the question "do you want to be right - or do you want to treated with respect by those around you?"  Personally, when it comes to etiquette, I'd choose to go with the status quo rather than have people perceive me as rude.  

Life's too short to be worried about the phrases people use when they greet each other. 

Lastly, it's not lying to answer 'fine' when you're not.  It's simply customary.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 6:50pm
Right, and what I've been trying to say is that the status quo where I live is that talking to strangers when you don't have to is viewed as rude and invasive. I'm not the one breaching etiquette here, they are.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2009
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 7:01pm
Well, you've convinced me. From now on when a stranger tries to talk to you, you simply tell them that you find their greeting rude and invasive. Perhaps carry a shrill whistle to drive them off if they persist. That should solve the problem pretty quickly.
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 7:40pm
Make fun if you want, but I have often gotten the very strong feeling that their "just trying to be nice" was passive aggressive in nature. They know exactly what they are doing.
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-27-2001
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 9:34pm

Sounds like you already know the answer to your question.  If you don't want to respond to people in public, you don't have to.  And they don't have to like it.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 9:38pm

>> I have often gotten the very strong feeling that their "just trying to be nice" was passive aggressive in nature. They know exactly what they are doing<<

So, people with bad intent pretend to be nice to you so frequently that it has become a problem for you.    Do you realise how implausible this sounds?   

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2009
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 9:56pm
Aquarius, you make it sound like all these other people exist just to screw up your day by being nice to you or or ending to be nice to you so that they can then get offended when you are not nice back. Here's the thing about other people: 99% of the time, they ate not thinking about you at all. They're thinking about themstlves, just like you.

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