Friday, September 11, 2009

I’m Better Than You Are

... she thanked me profusely for the rescue and also for not saying “That’s almost as bad as…” When I asked her what she meant, she asked me had I never noticed how people always say they’ve had worse things happen to them than you have? This was the first time I’d met someone else who was bothered by this.

I have occasionally noticed this pattern in speech before and while it’s sometimes humorous, more often than not it's annoying. Only after she reminded me, though, did I stop to analyze why we do it.

I can understand when you are telling a person you had an unexpected expense that was tough to deal with and they reply that they can relate, then go on to tell you of their most recent unexpected outlay. That, I think, is their way of saying they have been through what you’re going through. Another phrase is, of course, “Been there!”

But what I’m really talking about is the one-upmanship or ‘I’m better than you are’ meaning behind that phrase "almost as bad."

"Oh yeah, that’s almost as bad as…”

Now, there may be times when indeed, my experience might not have been as bad as one they’ve been through, but even in that case, isn’t it still wrong to begin dialog with someone in that way?

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