This job involves an awful lot of tracking down and communicating with people via Facebook and Twitter. As such, I read a lot of what people have to say about themselves, and you can tell pretty early on exactly what kind of mental non-starter you’re about to engage with based on it. Since we’re all very busy in life, here’s a handy list of terms that let you know the person who’s popped up in your feed can be safely ignored.
5. “Outlaw,” “Renegade” or “Outlaw Renegade”
Odds are the person’s profile picture involves a beard, sunglasses or both, in what he thinks resembles a biker but more closely implies he may play bass in a ’90s cover band. These days most of us are more worried about someone who can hack our credit score than some dude who tried to get people to unironically call him Bowser. These Internet tough guys are quick to deploy the “you wouldn’t say that to my face,” and then instantly block the moment you name the time and place. Frankly, if your weekend doesn’t look like this, I’m not calling you renegade.
4. “Philosopher” or “Free Thinker”
If you haven’t published a book or a thesis on the subject, you’re not a philosopher. You’re just a person who thinks he is the first to come to a conclusion that smarter people came to long ago. These folks are joined by the supposed free thinkers, which means they’ve adopted automatic opposition to established knowledge as shorthand for being open-minded without realizing that is just as mindless a thing to do. Look for this group to come rocketing back in the next presidential election, touting the “new ideas” offered by third parties yet unaware that stuff like American isolationism is literally as old as the republic.
3. “Anti-Globalist,” “Anti-Misandrist,” “Gender Critical” and “Traditionalist”
In order, these are people who hate Jews, women, trans and gender-fluid persons and the gay. They think if they come up with clever new titles, we won’t be able to see right through the rather painfully obvious bigotry just begging to come screaming to the surface the moment they find a willing audience to annoy. The odds of the word “cuck” entering the conversation approach certain.
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There’s really no reason ever to describe yourself as a gentleman. It’s supposed to imply chivalry and grace to women, but most women hear the term as “guy with a stupid hat who will call me a bitch the second I say no to anything.” You don’t tell someone you’re a gentleman. That person tells you.
1. Anything That Implies You Love to Argue
Look, it’s been one of the longest, most contentious election cycles in living memory. Most of us have had to go to the mat with people we actually know and love over the core beliefs that define us, and in many cases those relationships did not survive. If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize on the other side of this incredible mess, it’s that arguing is not inherently worth anything. Debate is not in and of itself meaningful or desirable. The extent to which one’s thoughts and ideas can be challenged depends entirely on the challenger, and people who are just in it for the fight rarely bring anything you haven’t heard.
Now, check among yourselves.
Jef’s book of stories about vampires and drive-thru churches, The Rook Circle, is available now.