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Do people like praise?

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Prateek Sanjay Posted: Mon, Jan 3 2011 10:29 PM

In the past six months, I think there have been three or four instances on the internet that I said, "You are right and I was wrong. Thanks for correcting my error."

The responses have been (from memory):

"You are not supposed to retract, you are supposed to insult my intelligence and my mother."

"Oh, uh, I am not used to people telling me I am right on the internet. Um, er, thanks."

"Yes yes, you are too kind, that will be enough."

Words are just words, but people treat praise like a dog slobbering on them. Either that, or they come to the internet out of mashochistic self hatred.

You decide.

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James replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 1:57 AM

Some people really don't like praise.  It's a kind of narcissistic personality trait when taken to an extreme. They don't accept your praise because they don't think you're fundamentally worthy of praising them.

But that's not exactly the norm, thank heavens...  I think most people enjoy being elevated in the eyes of others.  But when you admit that they were right and you were wrong, it also seems as though you're lowering or humbling yourself in addition to elevating them, and many, many people have issues perceiving and engaging vulnerability properly, even if it's just silly intellectual vulnerability on the internet.  Also, a great deal of emotional context and tone gets lost with written communication, and people project their own feelings onto what you write without realising it.  That's half the trouble with electronic communication, and why people crack jokes about how immature people tend to be on it.

As to the feelings they're projecting... My gratuitously uninformed guess is that it goes back to an occasion, or repeated occasions, in which someone was forced to retract and internalise statements they believed were true - forced, under duress, to 'admit' they were wrong, and possibly apologise to someone, even though they didn't really think they were wrong.  I bet that's a ubiquitous childhood trauma.

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I think it's just the time period in which we live. People aren't used to manners anymore. Whenever I do simple things like say "thank you" or hold the door open for people, they're always so grateful. Maybe no one expects to be treated well these days, and they don't know how to react to it.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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Responses like that mean that they argued in the first place just for the sake of fighting.  It's like getting in a fist fight and hugging the other guy after he knocks you flat.

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James replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 4:31 AM

I think it's just the time period in which we live. People aren't used to manners anymore. Whenever I do simple things like say "thank you" or hold the door open for people, they're always so grateful. Maybe no one expects to be treated well these days, and they don't know how to react to it.

They don't expect to be treated with respect, but I seriously doubt it's a product of the times.  The past can't have been so wonderful if it resulted in the present.

It's just that communications technology didn't exist to record the degeneracy.  The lack of communications tech is all that prevented a big government too.  It's not that people were genuinely better or more respectful and empathetic of each other in the past...  Quite the opposite.  It's just that the evil, degeneracy, rudeness etc was inhibited and hidden by a relative lack of technology and public record.

Responses like that mean that they argued in the first place just for the sake of fighting.  It's like getting in a fist fight and hugging the other guy after he knocks you flat.

Yeah, they are treating it as if it were a zero-sum conflict and not a mutual effort to establish the objective truth between two differing perspectives.

I don't think it's likely to be conscious, though.  These people actually have to be correct from an honest person's perspective in order to be in this situation, and there's not much point being a troll who also happens to be correct, is there?

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I had a reaction like that with Smiling Dave.

And it's because I'm not used that people are interested in an honest discussion on this forum - save for a few exceptions. 

I mainly come here to (1) read arguments, (2) improve my own line of arguments (I'm a non-native English speaker). I gave up trying to convince a while ago. I do think some people just ruin the atmosphere. But apparently; it's not so bad as I thought it was. 

The state is not the enemy. The idea of the state is. 

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Marko replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 7:34 AM

Words are just words, but people treat praise like a dog slobbering on them. Either that, or they come to the internet out of mashochistic self hatred.

You decide.

Oh what, so it's a binary choice now?

 

I hate praise as it limits my manouvering space. It means I now can not be a jerk to the person giving me the praise. I also hate gratitude. They are insidious tactics to use against a discussant and I would never stoop down so low as to use them myself, not even against my worst enemy.

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I. Ryan replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 7:41 AM

Marko:

I hate praise as it limits my manouvering space. It means I now can not be a jerk to the person giving me the praise. I also hate gratitude. They are insidious tactics to use against a discussant and I would never stoop down so low as to use them myself, not even against my worst enemy.

Maybe they don't want you to be a jerk? And maybe they think that, if you can't talk without being a jerk, you're not worth their time (because maybe they're trying to have honest conversation?).

But, then again, maybe you're being sarcastic... I can't tell.

(And, either way, that's a good point. That's probably usually the reason: If you admit that you're wrong or praise them, they can't be a jerk anymore without embarrassing themselves. And a lot of forum posters really like acting like a jerk. For a lot of them, it's why they're there: To have a zero-sum competition with people - to "win" arguments. And to mock people. And to "be right". Or something. Whatever.)

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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Marko replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 7:50 AM

But, then again, maybe you're being sarcastic... I can't tell.

I am not being sarcastic. I am merely appreciating the irony of what I am saying.

And maybe they think that, if you can't talk without being a jerk, you're not worth their time (because maybe they're trying to have honest conversation?).

Ah yes, that is what you would think. But why then say that they were wrong and I was right?

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I. Ryan replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 7:53 AM

Marko:

I am not being sarcastic. I am merely appreciating the irony of what I am saying.

Interesting.

Marko:

Ah yes, that is what you would think. But why then say that they were wrong and I was right?

Sorry, but I don't get it.

(Really I thought I was just re-stating what you were saying.)

EDIT:

Actually, here's my answer:

Because it's up to you whether to avoid them from now one, to start being civil, or to embarrass yourself and get nowhere by acting like a jerk.

I mean, whatever you do, they're still fine. And they could just start ignoring you if you choose the third option. It might be fun and all to be a jerk, but the honest people have the advantage. No matter how good you are at being a jerk and winning zero-sum arguments, the first person that you meet who's just calm, and refuses to play your game, will baffle your defenses. You'll have no choice but to embarrass yourself, disengage, or starting playing their game.

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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Marko replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 8:20 AM

I mean, whatever you do, they're still fine. And they could just start ignoring you if you choose the third option. It might be fun and all to be a jerk, but the honest people have the advantage.

What do you mean "the honest people"? What is more honest than being a jerk?

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So Marko doesn't like people being friendly, because than he can't be a jerk. 

And yet; people are sometimes surprised that people don't like the Mises forum very much? 

The state is not the enemy. The idea of the state is. 

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I. Ryan replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 8:24 AM

Marko:

What do you mean "the honest people"? What is more honest than being a jerk?

Sorry, that was a bad choice of words.

Let's change it to "the positive-sum people". Or maybe you have a suggestion?

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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Marko replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 8:28 AM

Sorry, that was a bad choice of words.

Darn, you've done it again.

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Awww, thanks Adrian. I hate admitting I'm wrong, but I do it sometimes.

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It's easy to refute an argument if you first misrepresent it. William Keizer

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Marko:

I hate praise as it limits my manouvering space. It means I now can not be a jerk to the person giving me the praise. I also hate gratitude. They are insidious tactics to use against a discussant and I would never stoop down so low as to use them myself, not even against my worst enemy.

That is really praiseworthy, Marko. Well done.

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Marko replied on Tue, Jan 4 2011 9:04 AM

So Marko doesn't like people being friendly, because than he can't be a jerk. 

And yet; people are sometimes surprised that people don't like the Mises forum very much?

My words exactly. Where have the periodic, combative, dozens-of-pages-per-topic objective/subjective law, abortion, religion and egalitarianism (and many other) debates gone to that were such a joy to behold? We have grown soft is what happened. No more strong and opposite opinions.

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