25 November 2005[in reply to "Dear Prudence," at http://www.slate.com/id/2101279/ ]
Dear Prudence, Regarding your advice to the reader named "Live and Let Live" at http://www.slate.com/id/2101279/ : When someone says "You should smile more" or asks "Why don't you smile?", that's a way of saying "You are not acceptable to me the way you are." Apparently you need to be told that such behavior is rude. To be specific, it's arrogant, selfish, and disapproving. Also it's a form of ordering others around -- a power tactic, an assertion of dominance, used only on those who appear to be in a subservient position. Polite people do not make impertinent comments to strangers who are minding their own business. You can read more about the rudeness of unsolicited advice in Judith Martin, Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium, pp. 114-115. Also: Your comment to your reader: It is possible that you are antisocial, misanthropic, or in need of a good shrink. is an example of what's called a "psychiatric put-down." The fact that you could lash out at one of your readers so casually reveals deep and chilling things about your character. You should be ashamed of yourself.
J. E. Brown relationship activist Relationshop Los Alamos, NM USA
J. E. Brown, relationship activist (and a man who has been told to smile by rude people), decided in 1987 that verbal abuse will be wiped off the planet.
He has been working on it ever since.
While writing a book on relationships, he occasionally designs online surveys and writes educational materials for this web site.
telling people to smile; ordering people around; manners; treatment of women; boundaries; respect; reviews of Dear Prudence
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