i eat babies...what?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In college I hung around with the rugby crowd (though I was way too much of a wuss to actually play). From them I picked up a number of social vices, a notable one being the tendency to say very crude things in very inappropriate contexts.

Occasionally I'd catch myself, and I found the best way brush off the faux pas was following up each offensive statement with a short pause and a, "What?"

I found that people were less offended if I acknowledged the inappropriateness of what I just said and then questioned it. It seemed like I was sorry for what I said, and I was...

..at first.

Then I started testing how far I could go with it. I encouraged friends to try the same. In most cases, the results were the same--as long as we followed up each inappropriate statement with a pause and a, "What?" People were less likely to be offended.

Of course this is nothing scientific--we didn't have much of a control group, and I imagine that after a while our sampling group became more and more accustomed to offensive statements--but I notice many of my friends still do it...and still get away with it.

So try it!