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What happened to having a thick skin?!

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Maybe I'm old school in thought, however, Sascha's most recent blog, along with some other things that have struck a cord with me, really got me thinking about one simple question, "WHAT HAPPENED TO HAVING A THICK SKIN?!"

I was ridiculed mercilessly for living with my Grandmother while I was child, for having second hand clothing, for going through someone else's trash to find bike's to clean-up, cannibalize, and slap together just to have a bike. I got my ass kicked on an almost daily basis for how I looked. As a teenager, the ridicule became more about how I dressed - what eventually became the so called grunge look, wearing bobo's, for being fat and uncoordiated, and told over and over that I was butt ugly. One thing that did stop, was getting my assed kicked - I learned my lessons well in that area.

As far back as I can remember, a point that was drilled home from an early age by my own family, or at least those that took the time to have anything to do with me, was the old addage "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but NAMES can never hurt you."

Before I express my view, I do not condone bullyingof any sort. However, the harsh reality of life is (movie quote) Life is pain...Anyone who says differently is selling something. It sucks, it stinks, but that's reality. I'd love to keep my kids sheltered from this one simple truth as long as possible, at least a simple truth as I understand the world. But not too long. I want them to learn to have a thick skin, to learn that names can't hurt you if you don't let them, to gain some much needed armor to a harsh reality of life.

What I see in today's society, is one in which people are encouraged to NOT LEARN how to find the strength to get past the simple bullying of names and ridicule for choices you make for your own life. In my understanding of the world, my own limited perspective, that's just plain wrong. No matter where you go, someone just isn't going to like you for whatever reason, however illogical or illconceived it may be. It's not worth getting upset about it. If my kids learn nothing else from me, it'll be "Sticks and stones can break your bones, but NAMES CAN NEVER HURT YOU."

So, what the hell happened to having athick skin?

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  1. Blond Gamer Girl's Avatar
    THANK YOU! Carlos Mencia, comedian, often asks the same thing. Yes, there are times that someone should step in because name calling goes over the top and something should be done but I am NOT condoning name calling or bullying. Nowadays, things have to be so politically correct that everyone gets hyper-sensative about everything. Whatever happened to growing a pair?

    Am I the only one who looks at an insult (when given to me because I only instigate when someone REALLY has it coming) as an invitation to spar with words? No, I don't return the insult with prejudicial remarks but instead with intellectual insults intended to render my opponent speechless as they ponder the meaning of my verbal jab. The insults I have endured are: dumb blond, typical female ones, gamer and southern hick.
  2. bloodtide's Avatar
    This is the modern world. So many people that have had very sheltered childhoods, are now adults. Yet, they have no experience with anything outside thier personal bubble.

    If your a parent, you have seen tons of this stuff. The local Rec center Football games give each scored point to both teams(so that every game is automatically a tie). You are also not allowed to cheer or jeer during the game.

    And this is found in Role-playing. Especially after 2000 and 3E D&D. Everything has to be fair and balanced. Players can sit back and not worry, as they know each encounter is balanced and fair to do no harm to their characters.

    And a lot of role-players are in a bubble. They game with five GM's each with the same houserule, and some how think it's an official part of the game. After all, as far as they see 'everyone' does it.
  3. Dytrrnikl's Avatar
    BBG - You know, I've never really listened to Carlos Mencia. I'm going to need to remedy that now. Also, no, you're not the only one who looks at an insult as an invitation for verbal sparring. There is nothing more entertaining than responding to an insult with a sharp quip, especially when, as you've said, it results in speechless derailment of the insulter. Incidentally, I'm close friends with a woman who happens to have bleach blonde hair, AND she has delivered some of the best silencers I've ever heard.

    Bloodtide - Another symptom of that bubble, is a frustrating (at least from my point of view) sense of entitlement. The bubble need to burst, just like the housing market. As for that Rec center issue, I can forgive it, IF the kids are under the age of 5. Even I want the kids to first learn to have fun as well as get a foundation for basic skills. But after the age of 5, all leagues in my community actually keep score and records of wins/losses...and I LOVE it.
  4. Sascha's Avatar
    It's an issue of communication, specifically the signal-to-noise concept. Divisive statements, insulting remarks are noise; if there's any substance to the message, they can interfere with communication. If they *are* the message, they serve no purpose *but* to interfere. Wading through the noise to get to the signal is tiring, especially when it's the same noise ad nauseam. (Doubly so when the statements are challenged, yet repeated; proof by assertion does not equal a won debate.)

    Also, I too see a frustrating culture of entitlement, only it's one of absolute expression: Yes, you have the right to your opinion. But there's an ocean of difference between expressing that opinion as part of civil discourse, and expressing it in a manner that attacks someone or instigates conflict. It's distracting at the very least, and downright hostile at worst; not something that you want in a community-building site such as this.

    What happened to having thick skin? It's a band-aid solution, if it's your *only* solution. Despite the adage, words *do* have consequences, and it's long past time to realize this. Placing the responsibility on the listener ignores the speaker's role in communication, and is absolution for whatever negative consequences follow any given message. Not acting to lessen or eliminate undesirable behavior is implicit support for such behavior.
  5. Malachi57's Avatar
    Firstly, no one on this site knows anyone else as well as they think they could or should. So making statements like "you need a thicker skin" is negligent to the fact that /you/ may be the socially unskilled individual in the conversation, not vice versa. I don't know if you are, and I'm not saying that you are, which is the whole point. Why get worked up about what other people say on the internet? Is it true? Are older gamers that out of touch with the here and now? Are younger gamers just that coddled that they couldn't cope with their character dying? Are labels helping anyone at this point, and should we even care if someone does label us? I would say though, that Gamers in general have thicker skins than most, based solely on the fact that if everyone played games, there wouldn't be a geek subcultiure. But here we are, all proud in our geekdom, yet unable to realize that we're eating our own by trying to make one class of gamer superior to another.

    Secondly, if you're asking for people to have a thicker skin, turn that microscope around a little bit and see if you do the same. This may be directed at BGG more than any other comments in this post, but if someone says something derogatory toward you, does it really deserve a response? If you're not what they say you are, is it worth your time to belittle them back or try and verbally spar with someone you obviously know to be misled in their dealings with people? If we're all truly the adults we say we are (and I have no way to know this as I only know people by their screen names and how they present themselves on the site) shouldn't we be above all this and not worry about who has hurt feelings or who needs to be right?

    I can see both sides of this argument, and I can see why both sides would want to make a case, but I have a feeling that, much like the adults of today (not the children) with sports, politics, etc.; once a side has been picked there is no middle ground from which to compromise on. I hope I'm wrong and we can all move past this and get back to the important stuff. Like whether or not my wizard has a cooler robe than your wizard!
  6. Blond Gamer Girl's Avatar
    First, I want to put in my terms the difference between debate and arguing. In my world, debate is countering facts with facts and/or discrediting otherís facts. Arguing is verbal sparring and/or trying to debate based on emotions.

    Debate: I only debate on topics I know and care about to which I donít do the emotion thing either way. The other qualification is that my opponent must be intelligent and knowledgeable enough to debate with.

    Arguing: Very, very rarely will I argue but when I do, it is a means to an end. In other words, I ask myself ďWhat is my goal and can I achieve it?Ē For instance, at conventions when I have shared a hotel room, I spell out the rules and payment information in a clear email (no smoking, keep things fairly clean and no strays). Other folks were afraid to say something to the violators, not me. I was called names to which I responded in kind and resolved the situation to my satisfaction in less than five minutes. If someone is acting like a jerk by insulting me and my friends, yes I respond if it will put them in their place. Iíve had several times where folks clapped. Sometimes my only goal is emotional satisfaction.

    When it comes to managing at work, a rewards system works best but if it is necessary to discipline, one presents opportunities for improvement. First, you cite the good and positive. Next, you present documented instances of the mistakes with ways to correct them. Then you end with positive followed by written documentation of the above.

    Hopefully, this presents a clear picture of how I think. You will NEVER catch me on Springer.

    For the record, children are a different matter. Comments and verbal insults coming from adults is Mental Abuse and those matters should be dealt with.

    Dealing with a small amount of insults from peers is typical childhood experiences, and yes sadly necessary to build a thick skin and just part of growing up. It teaches us as adults to take criticism and continue forward. Otherwise, an artist would never paint again no matter how much encouragement they got because one critic was harsh.

    Again, there is such thing as too much.
    Updated 10-26-2010 at 09:44 PM by Blond Gamer Girl
  7. Malruhn's Avatar
    While I agree with you on one hand, there is another hand in play here. For young children, if they are told constantly - by the people that are supposed to love and support them - that they are worthless and weak and stupid and a mistake - eventually, the words stick. Words CAN hurt. You may be a special sort of person that was able to rise above it - but there are many that are unable to do so. And then, when they see no way out of it, they think of ending the pain once and for all.

    All we want in life - as smelly human beings - is power. We want to have at LEAST the power of self-determination. If our entire existence is based on other peoples' power, then we have none - and the only way we DO have power is to take if for ourselves. Enter Columbine... enter the recent spate of suicides...

    Not all are as strong as you... or me. I was bullied and hounded and teased. I endured but couldn't just shake it off - and it took me until I was nearly 30 years old to realize that I could survive it.

    Yes, I will agree that many parents attempt to shield their babies too much, to the detriment of the child, but there is a gray line out there that has, "It's character building," on one side and, "It's debilitating," on the other side. The problem is that everybody places that line differently for themselves... and most of the time you can't see where it is until it's too late - they either have survived or lashed out.

    That's a damned poor time to find out.

    It wasn't until after I had pulled my head out of my rectum before I realized just how messed up I was. Sure - I faked it GREAT for everyone that knew me... but inside I was a twisty ball of self-loathing.

    Sticks and stones CAN break my bones... and if the words don't hurt me, they didn't use the right ones, because EVERYONE has buttons that can be pushed. Bullies thrive on finding those buttons. And if you think that words can never hurt, you've never seen someone pushed to tears just from words.

    And I find that hard to believe. (/EDIT)
    Updated 10-26-2010 at 08:40 PM by Malruhn (Clarity)
  8. Dytrrnikl's Avatar
    Sascha, you make several salient points. I am inclined to disagree about a thick skin being a band-aid solution if it's the only solution. In my experiences I've found it to be the best solution, but that's me.

    Malruhn, I WAS one of those kids that was constantly told that I was worthless and an accident, and much more. All it did was make me angry. That anger shaped itself into me having a 'thick skin', teaching me that I am the only one who can determine if I am worthless, weak, stupid, unwanted, and so forth. I had a childhood that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, however, I am grateful that I went through the trials that I experienced. Funny thing is, I am closer to my family now, than I ever was as a child. I do have a certain bent on some things, like not understanding how people can get allow themselves to get debilitated or become a 'twisty ball of self-loathing', but but only because I made different choices on how to handle my own trials.

    Malchi57... My wizard’s robe is crafted from a blend of adamantite and mithril fibers, steeped in the blood of an ancient wyrm Gold Dragon, freely volunteered. The adamantite thread was fashioned during the winter solstice, while the mithril thread was fashioned during the summer solstice. Then woven together to form a seamless cloth over the course of 12 months of craftsmanship. I would say mine is cooler.
  9. Malachi57's Avatar
    Your wizard's robe is MUCH cooler than mine. Mine just has some bangles and a couple of rabbit's feet sewn into it. You robe could eat my robe I think.
  10. Malruhn's Avatar
    Unfortunately, Dytrrnikl, not all are as lucky or as strong as you.

    I survived clinical depression and addictions without treatment, and for the longest time couldn't understand those that couldn't lick either of those situations all by themselves like I did. It took a wise friend to point out that not all brains (and spines... and skin) are created the same. Yes, some just play the victim role - and beg for attention. However, some truly are victims.

    I'm not saying that you are totally incorrect - just that you are painting with too broad a brush.