I'm working on theory of jerks and I need data. In the comments section, I'm hoping some of you (ideally, lots of you) will describe examples of what you think of as typical "jerkish" behavior.
Here's why: I'm working on a theory of jerks. This theory is aimed largely at the question of how you can know if you are, in fact, a jerk. (Do you know?) Toward this end, I've worked a bit on the phenomenology of being a jerk and on the "jerk-sucker ratio". Soon, I plan to propose a "jerk-sweetie spectrum". But before I get too deep into this, I'd appreciate some thoughts from people not much influenced by my theorizing. I want to check my theory against proposed cases. Also, I'd like to draw a "portrait of a jerk", and I need things to include in the portrait.
Favorite examples I will pull up into the body of this post as updates. (And I'll keep my ear out for examples via comments on this post as long as I actively maintain this blog, since comments filter into my email.) Also, readers who provide any examples that I incorporate in my portrait of a jerk will receive due name credit in the final published version of my planned paper on this topic.
But please: no names of individuals. And nothing that will clearly single out a particular individual. And if you sign your true name, please be careful to be sufficiently vague that you risk no reprisal from the perpetrator!
The anti-hero of my portrait will probably be an academic jerk, so academic examples are especially welcome. However, this jerk lives outside of academia too, and my theory of jerks is meant to apply broadly, so I need a good range of non-academic examples, too.
I've Googled "What a Jerk" as a source of examples to kick the thing off. Below are a few. No obligation to read them before diving in with your own.
I turned to see a tall bald man looking down at me as the train pulled in to the platform. I let two people in before me, and that's when I felt the push. As we turned toward the seats I felt another push on my back, and again looked at the man, who now released an annoyed huff of breath. What a jerk! I thought. Does he think that he's the only one who deserves a seat? Then I felt a poke on my shoulder, and in a loud angry voice the tall bald man said, "What are you looking at? You got a problem, buddy?"From Sarah Cliff (2001):
My AA, Maureen, flubbed a meeting time - scheduled over something else-and he really lit into her. Not the end of the world - she had made a mistake, and he had to rearrange an appointment - but he could have gotten the point across more tactfully. And she is *my* AA. (And I am *his* boss, and he did it in front of me.)From Richard Norquist (1961):
I know a college president who can be described only as a jerk. He is not an unintelligent man, nor unlearned, nor even unschooled in the social amenities. Yet he is a jerk cum laude, because of a fatal flaw in his nature--he is totally incapable of looking into the mirror of his soul and shuddering at what he sees there. A jerk, then, is a man (or woman) who is utterly unable to see himself as he appears to others. He has no grace, he is tactless without meaning to be, he is a bore even to his best friends, he is an egotist without charm.From Florian Meuck:
He is such an unlikeable character. You never invited him; he sat down on your sofa and hasn’t left since. He never stops talking, which is quite annoying. But it’s getting worse: he doesn’t like to talk about energetic, positive, uplifting stuff. No – it’s the opposite! He’s a total bummer! He cheats, he betrays, he deceives, he fakes, he misleads, he tricks, and he swindles. He is negative, sometimes even malicious. He’s a black hole! He promotes fear – not joy. He persuades you to think small – not big. He convinces you to incarcerate your potential – not to unlock it.Update, 4:43 p.m.:
Good comments so far! I'm finding this helpful. Thanks! I'm going to start pulling up some favorites into the body of the post, but that doesn't mean the others aren't helpful and interesting too.
* At the gym a few weeks ago. A man there (working out) had probably 10 weights of various sizes strewn in a wide radius around him, blocking other people's potential work-out space. I asked him if the weights were his, and he said "no - the person before me left them here, and I DON'T PICK UP OTHER PEOPLE'S WEIGHTS." [from anon 02:55 pm]
* the professor who has hard deadlines for their students, but then doesn't respond or reply promptly themselves, or expects perfection in writing but then has a syllabus and other written materials full of typos. [from Theresa]
* Anyone who blames low-level folk for problems that are obviously originating many levels higher up (or to the side). For example, berating a clerk for the store's return policy, the stewardess for the airline's cell phone rules, the waiter for the steak's doneness, etc. [from Jesse, 01:50 pm]
* If I'm descending the stairs towards the eastbound subway platform and I hear an approaching train, then I'll generally speed up if I see that the train is eastbound and I'll slow down if it's the westbound train. If there's no one in front of me on the stairs but there are several people following me, they'll use my change of pace as a signal re. whether the approaching train is eastbound or westbound. No one agreed on this tendency or explicitly recommended it. It's just a behaviour that arose spontaneously and became standard. So, if, on seeing that the train is indeed eastbound I deviate from the norm and slow my pace, thereby leading others behind me to slow down and miss the train, I'd say I've engaged in jerkish behaviour [from praymont, Apr 17]