Am I unreasonable?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Am I unreasonable?
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.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Wed, 08-29-2012 - 10:40am

I perused the web to find other discussions on this topic. It is controversial. Two replies that I found interesting are:

How are you? I am blessed.

How are you? I think it is unusual that you care as we've never met before.

Either of those two replies would make me want to walk away from you without comment and I suspect hink they both meet the not being rude criteria. 0.02

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Wed, 08-29-2012 - 7:34am

When I speak of responding to rude people, I'm specifically speaking about those same people who were verbally rude to me or mine, completely unprovoked

Yes, I know, you've already explained this.

But she has also tried to persuade me that "how are you?" has more significance than a meaningless greeting and because of this, is rude when said to a stranger. On this, I disagree.

How do you know though? You keep mentioning body language and so forth. Without actually being there, how do you know? I mean, I will admit, in general, there is no need for concern, but, there have been times, a man approached with me, "how are you" and I just immediately felt uncomfortable.

As a matter of fact, about 10 years ago, a van pulled up to a girl walking out of a convenience store. A man opened the door and said, "Hi, how are ya doing?" The girl paused thinking maybe she knew the guy and this gave him time to grab her. Now, I am not suggesting this happens often, my point is we determine what is appropriate generally by being there.

Personally, I would not ignore the person greeting me nor would I react in reponse to a lack of greeting.

In most cases, neither would I. Again, this has been covered. But, neither would I consider someone debating the rudeness of these intrusions to be mentally ill.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Wed, 08-29-2012 - 7:31am

the autism does cause the rudeness.  

I think that explains the disconnect. You and I use the word "rude" differently than I do.

I would never say that autism causes rudeness and if we hadn't had the discussion prior to your use of the word rudeness, I would have been appalled. Similarly, I do not think it is possible to tell someone they are rude without insult. I could probably go as far as to say that calling someone rude is the only thing that I consistently think is rude.

I might even call someone rude for being rude. Then they'd have to call me rude and my only response is: touche.

In the future, especially on iVillage, I will try to rememember that some people do not use the word rude the same way that I do. That it isn't necessarily a character attack or insult.

But acceptance doesn't mean that he can't improve on his social skills.

I agree. FTW, it is so obvious to me that acceptance does NOT mean unwillingness or inability to change, for that reason I have less patience than you do trying to explain the idea. I would go so far as to say that adults are less likely to change if they can not "accept" their current behavior. By "accept" I mean acknowledge and be aware not judging as good or bad.

[Autism is] just another variance on human behaviour.  It presents challenges for sure, but to me, the label of autism isn't an insult and it's not something to be ashamed of.

I agree. Accurate labels are often helpful, IMO.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Wed, 08-29-2012 - 7:19am

This particularly holds true if the person explicitly says, "I do not have X diagnosis" and random posters say, "Yes, you do have X diagnosis",


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Wed, 08-29-2012 - 7:17am

>>I think it is reasonable in any debate on iVillage to expect not to be accused of needing therapy, or being autistic, narcissistic, or any other mental illness. I am a little surprised that it is not against the TOS.<,

For one thing, you quoted Nis here, not me. And yes, I do believe one should make suggestions to IVillage if they feel there is a need. And yes, I do believe, even after explanation, people still kept probing Age. It was unwarranted. It was pretty much the same complaint you had about the BF-ing board .... that was you, right?

Suggesting therapy is not necessarily an insult but can be delivered in that manner.

Yes, and some feel the way it has been delivered here is wrong. This isn't a relationship board. There was a topic to e debated and Age's mental health wasn't the topic. And even after she addressed everyone's concerns about her mental health, people still kept insisting this was the problem.

 If someone cannot get over their relationship which ended 4 years ago, what other option is there to suggest?

To be honest, I am not a fan of internet support or relationship boards for many reasons. However, suggesting someone speak with a professional is one thing .... offering internet diagnosis without provocation is another. 

Again, if we see suggesting a possible mental illness as a TOS, what does this say about our attitudes to mental illness?

And again, this isn't the forum for support or suggestions ... it's to debate the topic at hand. Is Age's mental health the topic at hand?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Wed, 08-29-2012 - 6:58am

I've lurk there once in awhile .... just haven't posted.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Wed, 08-29-2012 - 4:16am to describe.   I hope this comes out right.

>>You have said that people who do not follow social norms do not need to be treated kindly<<

I have never said that.   I have said quite clearly that I think it's rude to reply "rude b*tch" to someone who doesn't follow social norms.  Yes, I also said that I understand why people may do this....but understanding why they do it doesn't mean it's OK.      I've also said that giving appropriate responses in social situations will very much minimalise the rude responses we receive.

My son is rude.  Horribly rude.   And yes, the autism does cause the rudeness.    But because I want to minimalise how much he's marginalised in the community, we work really hard at teaching him social norms.   When he does not respond to a friendly greeting (a frequent occurance) I prompt him to respond in an appropriate manner.   

A funny story:  he arrived at school one day and his class mates greeted him. (he's in a intellectual disability support class, so he's surrounded by interesting characters).   Anyway, he refused to return their greeting.   I prompted him, but he still refused.   I said to his classmates "I'm sorry, he's very rude" and one of them replied deadpan "that's OK, he's only rude in the morning.  He's fine by morning tea."   I just love the way they can be frank about his rudeness but without insult.

My son is quirky, he's funny, and I love the autistic mind.  And yes, he's also a handful.  But acceptance doesn't mean that he can't improve on his social skills..   Heck, my own social skills are under constant improvement LOL.   Even those with nothing 'wrong' with them still have room for improvement in one area or another.

As far as autism being good or feelings are more about it being just another variance on human behaviour.  It presents challenges for sure, but to me, the label of autism isn't an insult and it's not something to be ashamed of.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 8:36pm

 For the sake of clarity, how is it that having Autism is not "something wrong with you", but failing to make eye contact or follow other social norms is rude?

As I understand it, many people with Autism are challenged when when it comes to following social cues. You have said that people who do not follow social norms do not need to be treated kindly.

It almost sounds like you are saying that people with Autism do not have anything wrong with them, they are just rude.

I am guessing that is not what you meant, but I have no idea what you intended.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 8:29pm

Giving advice is what the relationship boards are all about.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 8:28pm

The first paragraph in your previous post, insists to Age that she must have something "wrong" with her. You assert that she needs to change or be judged as "rude" You go on to say that if she breaks the "rules of etiquette" then others are not mandated by social norms to be nice or even polite to her.

Those rules of etiquette seem silly at best. wrote:

Age of aquarius, I'm saying this in the nicest possible way Are you sure you're not a bit Aspergers?  Because you seem to have misunderstood the unwritten rules about the "how are you doing?" question.   You're looking at the phrase with a very literal (and inaccurate) point of view.

"How are you" when used with a stranger or casual aquaintence is a greeting and not a question.  Sure, it may be phrased as a question but it truly has no more meaning than saying "Hi".   Yes, you are right that nobody wants the answer anyway - but this is because it's a greeting and not a question.     I have no idea why such a meaningless greeting has lasted through the years, but it has lasted and has a place in modern etiquette.

In Western etiquette, the only acceptable answer to "how are you?" is "fine thanks" or "great" or some other equally meaningless answer.   While it's your perogative to reject social etiquette - you must do so with the knowledge that people will think you are rude.....and some will voice their opinions.    Are they being rude in voicing their opinions?  Yes, they are.  But you are also being rude by refusing to follow social etiquette.

If you want people to be nice and polite to you, you've got to go along with social norms.