Social Question

muppetish's avatar

Have you ever been accused of character dissonance?

Asked by muppetish (13986points) August 21st, 2010

I was out with a group of friends once when this exchange occurred:

Me: Dude, that’s whack.
A Friend (whips around): Did you just say “dude”?
Me: Um, yeah. Why?
A Friend: You’ve never said dude before.
Me: I say it all the time.
A Friend: I just didn’t think you were someone who would say dude.

It’s admittedly a silly observation, but I’ve been thinking about it. There are people out there who box others. There’s a type of person who earns good grades. There’s a type of person who will go skydiving. There’s a type of person who will get a tattoo on a whim. There’s a type of person who owns twenty cats. And if you don’t fit the box they’ve neatly labeled, it is absolutely jarring.

What’s strange to me, is the process of taking a person you have met and putting them in a box while making a checklist of information you acquire. Let’s see… a reader, check. Studying to teach, check. Engaged? Check. Disney-loving, gigglebox, soft-spoken? Check, check, check. Medieval knife collection… wait, what?! She doesn’t seem the type.

Has anyone questioned some part of who you are because they did not think it fit you?

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13 Answers

syz's avatar

Nice question.

I don’t think it’s quite what you’re asking, but I have assumptions made about me all of the time because I’m female and five feet tall. But that’s people that don’t know me.

As far as my friends go, I tend to be pretty open about myself, and I think they have a pretty good idea of “me”. Now, there may be some very private issues that they’d be surprised by, but I guess we’ll never know.

Mephistopheles's avatar

Everybody has skeletons in the closet, no matter how religious/geeky/prudish/macho/feminine etc. It’s always the unlikely ones who turn out to be gay, junkies, smokers, pedophiles, womanisers, collectors of medieval knives and so on. No personality is straightforward.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Mephistopheles I do enjoy how you put gay people with pedophiles and ‘so on’.

Seaofclouds's avatar

When I’m first getting to know new people, they are often surprised that I like playing MMORPGs and watching anime.

Mephistopheles's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Do you seriously think that I was making a qualitative judgement? I was simply stating that the people you assume to be completely straight-edged are often the ones hiding something.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Someone that I’ve known for years recently said to me, “Nah, just a solid black tattoo for you. You’re not the kind for a fancy, colorful one.” To which I said ”..... Why?.....”

It was the weirdest thing in the world to me, especially because I happen to think there are some absolutely beautiful colorful tattoos out there.

Austinlad's avatar

Could it be that we put people in boxes because it’s easier and less risky than making the emotional investment necessary to find out who they truly are? If that premise is true, it explains in part why Internet relationships are so popular: each person can maintain the illusion of being what the other person imagines and wants.

mrentropy's avatar

I get that quite frequently.

muppetish's avatar

@Austinlad I think that could be part of it. I also think that it’s unrealistic to expect people will learn everything about ourselves. It would be weird if someone I just met asked whether I cared for sushi, had ever broken a limb, what my blood-type was, and whether I believed in horoscopes all in the same breath (no, no, B+, and definitely not). They are bound to be surprised to learn something about you sooner or later.

I just find it amusing when they don’t only respond, “Wow! I didn’t know that about you!” but “Wow! I don’t believe that about you!”

@DrasticDreamer That’s exactly the kind situation I was musing about. It’s just so silly.

Coloma's avatar

We are constantly learning new things about people, sometimes not for years.

This year I have learned a lot I never knew about a friend of 15 years.

Not to mention we never stop learning about ourselves.

Those that act shocked are coming from their own projections of who they have made you up to be based on assumptions and not fact.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I once told a joke at a party that has a 4-letter word in it. My boyfriend was in shock for the rest of the evening. He wasn’t offended; he had just never heard me use any vulgar language. It was funny…as if the fact that I don’t curse means that I’m not familiar with the words.

My sister had a second daughter who loved to play with her older sister’s doll. It was creating a daily disturbance, so my sister went out and bought the same model in a different color. When her husband got home and saw the doll, he said, “I will not have my daughter playing with a doll of that color!” They had been married for 12 years, and she had no idea that he had a racist bone in his body.

@muppetish Perhaps the difference between the ‘not knowing’ and ‘not believing’ comments are based upon the speaker’s personal judgement of whether this new nugget slides that person up or down a notch on the respect scale.

Of course, there are always the neutral tidbits, like when my aunt told me that her husband would want water to drink for dinner. I decided to ask him myself, and he said, “Milk please.” She had no idea he liked to drink milk for dinner. He just always accepted what he was offered and never made a fuss.

Trillian's avatar

Years ago in a Dr.‘s office for whom I was doing a stand-by. I had looked at the print on his wall every day for lord knows how long. I always assumed it was Van Gogh. One day I saw the word “Matisse”. I was surprised and said so. He said that he was surpried that I knew anything about art. Considering that he and I never spoke outside of work, or about anything BUT work, I asked him, very politely I thought, how he had managed to draw any conclusions about me at all. He stammered and stuttered, and I simply said “I see.” and allowed him to feel like a chump.

zzc's avatar

@Muppetish, I get, what you describe, from the newer co-workers,who are much younger than myself. Getting a head snap around and saying, “I didn’t know that about you!”, when that person knows nothing of you, outside of work, is so nuts! Or saying something casually, and having a head snap around, and one of them say, ”(zzc), you surprise me!”

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