Slightly Off Center
How to be less of a jerk.
—by Dennis Hinkamp
People often ask me where I get the ideas for columns. My stock answer is: “It’s easy—everything irritates me.” I take one thing and try to make it sound more funny than angry. The trouble is that I also irritate myself with my relentless criticism of everything.
I guess it could try to write a self-help book or delve into the weird and wonderful “blogosphere” or even do a TED talk, but I am going to keep it simple. Here’s what I’ve learned about criticism, in a list of three.
1. Use your real name. Unless you are a secret Santa, government whistle blower or in the witness protection plan, nothing good will come out of being anonymous. Your comments section name of Dr. Truth will only bring out your darker nature. While you are at it, use your real face. Mirrors are unflinchingly honest but that’s who you are every day. No need to hide behind a superhero or PhotoShop.
2. Snark is dead (or at least on life support). Pull the plug; having a wise-rear response to everything is, like you, getting old. “Hey, your dad just died; at least that makes the family reunion less complicated. LOL” No, really, I have seen this and worse.
3. If you look for good, you will see it. This has always been an option but more recently the concept of “mindfulness” has helped me bring it into focus. I bought a package of cheap blue first-place ribbons and started carrying them around with me. It changed my life. Instead of looking for stuff that annoyed me, I started looking for “the coolest thing I saw today.” It doesn’t work every day, but these are my top four so far.
Dennis Hinkamp would like to note that being less of a jerk does not preclude still being an occasional jerk.