What is this 'respect' thing people get so het up over?

At work some youngsters (21 to 24) were insulted because somebody put a photo of somebody else’s baby on their Facebook page. It was insulting because it was not a third party’s baby instead. Being a clueless old white guy I couldn’t understand where the insult was.

“You don’t know the whole story,” one said.

“No, from my experience even if I knew the whole story I still wouldn’t understand because I’m pretty much immune to insult. But I’m viewing this as an anthropologist trying to understand some foreign culture.” For what it’s worth, they didn’t seem insulted by the analogy, but they didn’t explain the baby picture insult.

Is it a cultural thing, or am I too old and bored with bullshit to care about what other people care about? Two of the women are black and gleefully “ghetto” (their term) and the third is solidly middleclass of Mexican and Cuban background. I am of various Central and Western European nationalities and I suppose I was raised with middle- and upper-middleclass tendencies, but I was the fat outsider all through childhood and grew up with a chip on my shoulder. That is gone and I think as I aged I have simply become imperious, with people who might be insulting me beneath my notice and contempt. But I know many adults who still carry those chips and I wonder why. Aren’t they bored with trying to impress losers? Aren’t they tired of the near-fistfights in the WalMart parking lot over something totally stupid? Wouldn’t their lives go more smoothly if they weren’t so quick to be offended? What is so valuable about respect?

Every day I hear people bitching and moaning about shit I don’t get.

I am also sure someone has been confused by something that bothers me, that they are able to shrug off.

There is nothing special about me. Or wrong with other people (most of them). It’s just that everyone has their buttons and they are all different.

One thing to remember is that an individual’s reactions tend to be amplified by their friends’ reactions. If any of those woman had been alone, their response would have likely been more muted. But with friends “drama” can happen. Someone says, “Oh no she didn’t put that picture up there!” and someone else says, “Yeah, that’s not right! She’s trifling!” And suddenly, you feel mad. But only because you’re supposed to feel mad. It’s what happens when you’re young and given to peer pressure. Isn’t this how most fights start? With the “pushing” of friends?

Also, it’s possible they weren’t nearly as worked up as you perceived them to be. I know that people often think I’m much more upset than I actually am. Just because I’m not smiling about something doesn’t mean I’m about to flip out and “go off” on someone. And just because I’m talking about something bothering me doesn’t mean I’m angry. There is a big gray zone between “fine” and “RAGE!” Make sure you’re aren’t misreading their body language and overestimating how serious they actually were.

Finally, I don’t know why you feel compelled to bring up the ethnicity thing. I’m surrounded by plenty of complainy, grouchy, unpleasant white people at work, but I know better than to generalize too much from this. But one thing to remember is that if you are middle class, you have less need for obvious displays of respect than someone who is poor does. Respect is the only thing a poor person has. If you don’t have money or social status, where else are you going to get your sense of worth if not from the way people treat you and the little stuff you’ve got? Of course that’s going to be a rather sensitive spot for you. A middle-class person can buy respect. They have material proof of their worth. A Facebook page doesn’t mean that much to someone with money because they’ve got other hobbies and social arenas to occupy their time with. So if there any class differences between you and these “youngsters” (and I’m guessing there are), this could explain why you don’t get it.

(BTW, I don’t understand the baby thing at all. I don’t know if it’s because I’m like you and just don’t get it or if I’m just missing something in your story.)

I don’t quite follow.

Whose Facebook page?
Who posted the photo?
It was a photo of whose baby?
It should have been a photo of whose baby?
Why do these three youngsters have an interest in this (are they any of the above parties? related to/friends with any of the above? something else?)?

Of course my next question would be why was this insulting, but it appears the answer eludes you as well.

Did they tell you the whole story? Is it secret?

(shrug) I thought it might be pertinent to that culture thing. My training is in Anthropology and we put some store in that stuff as possibly being helpful in decoding behavior. And I’m their friendly local “complainy, grouchy, unpleasant” white person. It’s an ecology of sorts.

I do get the power of the group in making complaining more fun, but I don’t always get just how mad they are. The other day there was a disagreement over some borrowed or given lunch money. It wasn’t until the unaggrieved party turned it into an episode of Judge Joe Brown with a killer impression of his honor that I figured out there would be no hair pulling and they were just ramping it up for fun. But people don’t always know that I rant for fun, too, and I shouldn’t be surprised when others do it.

Yeah, my ego knows that but my id is slow on the uptake. And my superego is still too pissed about my recent financial “descent” into the lower-middleclass :wink: to do anything but look for reasons to feel superior. He’s a pain in the ass.

You know as much as I do, which is really too little for making judgements.

Why yes, I do use this place to work out how I think about things. It beats thinking about it without anybody to tell me I’m full of shit. Don’t tell anybody, but I respect and value your input.

Jesus, you’re nosier than me!

Coming from a similar background what you said that means the most is ‘immune from insult’. When all people has is ‘respect’ you guard it.
Think of the movie ‘Scarface’ and the popularity of the phrase ‘balls and my word’.
A young person who has nothing else will go to lengths to hold onto respect as dictated by themselves and their friends.
Insults must be answered and pain must be repaid.
Does it make sense? To most; not only no but hell no.
I’m in a neighborhood where I’ve seen kids come up and ask me similar questions.
All I can tell them violence is not the first answer but it can be an answer.

Maybe part of it is that I’ve been a “respectable” full-fledged adult so long that I don’t remember my first steps into the adult world. I have come to expect respect and, now that I think about it, I have a boss who does not respect me and that offends me. Whoa–I’m also capable of being offended! I had forgotten about that. :mad:

The Talking Cure may get results, but it doesn’t always leave you happy. I liked it better when I was a happy idiot, blissfully unaware of my surroundings.

Your first steps into adulthood might be different from others.
Honestly after having a family, mutts, and a house I can look at the younger me and call me a dumbass. Still I know I was how I was and wouldn’t really change how I acted.

So you don’t know the whole story of why these people were insulted. You don’t know the story of what even happened. And you want us to tell you, just based on their age and ethnicity, why they were insulted? Because we are culture?

All right then. I guess the answer you want to hear is “bitches be trippin’”?

The OP is borderline incoherent. I’m not sure what anything you posted has to do with the topic of respect. It sounds like some people were upset about a Facebook posting that you only have the vaguest understanding of, and you feel that they should not have been upset about it, but perhaps they were upset due to their ethnicity? Is that about the sum of it?

Do you feel that it is your ethnicity that makes you more likely to be bewildered and/or judgmental about the things other people get worked up about? Because as someone of Slavic/Germanic descent, I usually don’t pay much attention to that sort of thing or let it get under my skin.

Hey, I’m on board with any rant about people freaking the out over bullshit that doesn’t matter — I’m on the record as believing it’s the the fundamental cause of most of the world’s problems.

That said, I’m really not seeing what any of this has to do with “respect” in any sense of the word that I’m familiar with. I could give a pretty lengthy answer to the question posed in the OP, but I doubt it’d do him any good, since I get the impression we define the word differently.

dropzone, if you don’t want to give any more detail about the actual situation, can you at least tell us what you think respect is, and how it plays into the offense taken in your scenario? I get that your point is that you don’t fully understand the reason that these people took offense, but as far as I can tell — which, as Gary T points out, isn’t very far without at least a hint about what exactly occured — the insertion of “respect” into the situation was entirely yours. Explaining that would go a long way toward getting a useful answer.

“Respect” was not my insertion but theirs. I am not holding back or creating information; I was trying to work while this foofarah was going on and missed most of the back story. My ears perked up when “respect” was mentioned, and gathered the information about the wrong baby’s picture being posted on Facebook. All the while “respect” kept getting mentioned. When I asked why this was disrespectful I was shut down. I would have received all the information I desired (and far, far more) except they had to stop gabbing and go to lunch.* By the time they returned the topic had shifted.

I don’t withhold or invent information. Like them I am more likely to tell you more than you want to know. The event got me curious about a common situation I’ve heard about, arguments, fights, and even murders over the slightest of slights, and I wanted more input so I could understand it better. On the other hand, I was tired and the OP was poorly thought out and I worked out my thinking on the situation in this thread and the SDMB was the wrong place to do it–I can do that sober, too. But like I said, I find it helpful to have people who freely and in detail tell me I’m full of shit. Otherwise I’m working in the echo chamber of my mind.

    • To clarify, their job is to handle incoming customer service calls. When there are no calls they pass the time talking, unnecessarily loudly, with each other. I make outgoing calls and am judged by how much I am on the phone, so I miss a lot of the conversation. As much as I enjoy their company they are a distraction and make it hard to maintain the polite fiction that I am not calling from a call center.

Bitches do be trippin’ tho’, don’t they?
The OP really wanted to rant about how black folks are so silly as to shoot each other if one scuffs the other’s new white sneakers. It’s an old ass trope, and to wrap it in that pointless rambling OP was just transparent.

Well, in a way that is true because I don’t understand fully why people would do that. However, I do not limit it to black people. Having lived down south I see it more as a Southern thing–there is a lot of culture shared between southern blacks and whites. And dueling to settle personal and financial grievances remained relatively common in the South long after it stopped in the North.

You obviously don’t know the actual story, so it’s impossible to tell if they have a reason to be mad or feel disrespected or not. A few examples I’ve heard of with Facebook and baby pics are men who have almost nothing to do with their kids but their Facebook is full of pics that make them look like Father of the Year (this seems to happen a lot), and that’s really annoying to the people actually taking care of the kids. Or the dad’s new girlfriend is putting up pics and trying to make herself the important one in the baby’s life. Or maybe someone put up a picture of someone else’s baby with insulting commentary.

I totally missed the racial aspects because I stopped reading after the first sentence.

I was just going to roll with, “Kids today.”

It really does sound like the OP is saying “why do black people overreact to stuff?”

Silly Nzinga. Black people don’t shoot people for scuffing sneakers. But they’ll likely offer to fuck you up quick two times. Good thing the black man has a loving heart.

(Also a good thing that Claude Hooper Bukowski scuffed up those brand new Air Jordans 20 years before Buggin’ Out turned into Gus Fring. Gus would have shot him for sure.)

I am the first to admit that I have some misunderstandings that some of you have chosen to interpret as racist. My only defense is that for my entire life I have been around almost exclusively white people, mostly male, middle class, and middle age. This was not a conscious choice by me; it’s just how thing worked out and I also regularly show that I don’t understand women, either. Being now in a job where many of the people are None of the Above has me trying to understand people whose thinking is different. I could do what most guys like me do, turn into a Rush-quoting, minority-hating, tea partier, but instead this old dog is trying to learn new tricks. There will be stumbles along the way, but I would appreciate it if you would give me the benefit of the doubt and not assume my intentions are bad. Monstro’s reply was most helpful because she answered my questions and increased my insight into my own way of thinking. Assuming I’m just a cranky old racist using this forum to rant about Those Wacky Negroes is neither accurate nor helpful.

Even my firmly held belief that young people can be safely ignored as immature idiots has come under fire because that Hispanic woman is generally so sensible and mature that I have difficulty believing she’s 21 and not a well-preserved 40. :wink:

Shut up. Montro’s post was “most helpful” because she took the time to entertain your mumbo jumbo.

Can you go over this again. I have no idea what any of this means. Third party’s baby? what?