Monday, May 21, 2012

Like, OMG, Boys are Such Jerks!: A Musing About the Slang "Jerk"

Hi Everyone! Stef here and the Spring 2012 semester is finally over and I am officially a senior at MSU!!! "Taking it One 'Stef' at a Time" has been ignored for a while because of school and work obligations, but hopefully this summer I will have more time to write for you. I have been brainstorming new topics and series to write about and I have posts in my drafts that I have worked on during the semesters but haven't had the chance to post until now, so I am excited with what the summer has in store for us, so hopefully it will be a successful one. I have a bunch of ideas planned!

So we begin my summer series of posts with the following thought-induced topic:

"Why are boys such jerks???"

...Okay, this is not a sexist piece against men and you probably do not expect it to be anyway considering how I often defend men on this blog. Also, I do recognize that girls can be "jerks" as well, so this isn't a one-sided argument. I'm just saying "boys" because that is my matter at hand.

So one night a couple of weeks ago I was crying to my friend about a male acquaintance of mine whom is currently upsetting me. Long story short, I met him the semester of Fall 2011 and he was so sweet to me, chatting with me and acknowledging me from time to time. Plus, I find him interesting. More of this continued on into my Spring 2012 semester, when I felt like we were developing our friendship a bit more. But then, after a while, his friendliness toward me started to dwindle. He does still somewhat acknowledge me, but he's just not as friendly as he used to be. Perhaps he is stressed and tired, but that isn't necessarily an excuse (though can it be?). I rarely talk to him, so for a while I've been looking back at our encounters, trying to figure out what went wrong and why things have changed between us so suddenly. I know it's not that serious, but I actually feel kind of bad about it. It's like, "What happened? Did I do something wrong?" I've been nothing but nice to him, though, so I don't think that's the case. It's probably not me.

So anyway I was/am upset about this and my friend simply said, "He's just a jerk," to which I responded, "There must be a better reason. It can't be just that." She then said, "You don't think guys can just be jerks? He's blowing you off. What other reason can it be?"

This brief part of our in-depth conversation stayed with me and made me think about the word "jerk" more analytically. I don't want to just settle the issue by just calling him a "jerk." I feel like that is either letting him off the hook or labeling him as something he isn't. I feel like just saying that a person is a "jerk" is excusing him or her for behaviors, dismissing the person as if there should not be any more thought on the matter and it's just how it is ("Oh, he's just a jerk. Don't worry about it."), whereas I believe that something may be going on with him and there's a reason for his not so friendly treatment of me and so calling him a "jerk" is unfair. Can people just be "jerks" and that is all there is to it? Is that a good enough definitive label to give someone? I don't feel that people can just be labelled as "jerks," as if that is who they are and there's no more to it because I believe we are all bigger people who deserve better descriptions than just being the low "jerks." To me it's a slang, writing a person off by saying "What a jerk" instead of coming up with better adjectives to describe the person. People have both their good and bad sides so being classified as just "jerks" doesn't do them any justice because that word is pretty dehumanizing.

A part of me too doesn't want to accept the fact that this guy in particular is a "jerk" because I just don't see him that way. I feel like he's a good enough guy so therefore my friend's label of him isn't just, since neither she or I know him very well to judge. But then again, since we don't know him well, we can't really say for sure that he is a "good guy" either or defend him from being labelled as a "jerk" simply because we don't know him enough the determine him either way. I just have a good impression of him, okay?!

It's probably best if I don't over think it, just let the chips fall where they may, and not worry about it (because since summer vacation began and I haven't been seeing him I've been concerning about it less and less and gradually have been realizing even during the semester that it is not worth obsessing over), which is what I try to do but sometimes have difficulty with because I am also a believer of taking matters into my own hands (This can actually be a good blog post topic: When to let things happen and when to contribute your own actions.), but I am still curious about the whole "jerk" aspect of it and how the word came into existence in the first place. Should people be demeaned as such by others? Then again, do people present themselves as such and deserve this title anyway? If this is the case, then we should probably determine the following: Is there such a thing as a "jerk" at all? Is being a "jerk" just a personality trait like any other that defines people or do people just have "jerk" tendencies and should not be defined as such? What constitutes a "jerk"? What are the official qualities? What is the definitive definition? There should probably be a common ground.

What do you think? Can people just be classified as "jerks" with no explanation, just an observation of their actions, or do people always have a background reason for their ill-treatment of others and should these reasons be taken into account? Have you ever experienced a friendship like this where you try to befriend someone, it looks like it is going well, and then everything is brought to a halt and you don't know why? Is this just something people do and it's considered normal? Maybe the issue is I never met a guy like this one before and I am just not used to his type. Then again, maybe this is just his personality and I am taking it personally. Now that I remember he exhibited this behavior early on as well and maybe I am just noticing it more because I have been talking to him more. I just feel like he only does this to me and not anyone else, but I can't say for sure. But still, just because people have certain personality traits doesn't make them "jerks!" Or does it?

Or should I shut up and just accept the fact that there are "jerks" in the world no matter which way I turn it?

Or, should we refrain from name-calling and stop calling people "jerks" and disregard this whole argument altogether? I don't have a problem with the word, it's just that I haven't thought much about it until now.

This is pretty much me trying to dissect the word "jerk" and figure out what happened at the same time. lol


  1. "Why are boys such jerks???"
    Haha excellent question. I ponder over this myself ALL THE TIME. Boys suck.

    "So one night a couple of weeks ago I was crying to my friend about a male acquaintance of mine whom is currently upsetting me. Long story short, I met him the semester of Fall 2011 and he was so sweet to me, chatting with me and acknowledging me from time to time. Plus, I find him interesting. More of this continued on into my Spring 2012 semester, when I felt like we were developing our friendship a bit more. But then, after a while, his friendliness toward me started to dwindle. He does still somewhat acknowledge me, but he's just not as friendly as he used to be. Perhaps he is stressed and tired, but that isn't necessarily an excuse."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm interpreting this as you met a guy, developed a friendship, and then developed a crush on him? I could be wrong, but that's how I'm reading it. So here's a story for comparison: last summer, I met a guy. Literally the sweetest, nicest, cutest guy I thought I would ever meet. He thought I was awesome, he was totally into the fact that I loved hockey, and we spent so much time together it was ridiculous. My parents liked him, my friends liked him; I fell in love with him. And please don't say I didn't actually love him; I know exactly what I felt and how much it hurt later when he just dropped out of my life. Around September or so, we stopped talking. I kept trying to figure out why--he said he was busy, trying to find a new job, move out of his house--so I didn't text him as much; I stopped asking him to hang out with me. But my biggest fear was that he would stop initiating contact with me too. And he did. To this day, honestly, I have no idea why. The only reason I can fathom is that the girl who is now his girlfriend is someone he met WHILE we were talking and that's when our sort-of-relationship-but-not-really ended. With that, I feel I can say that he was a jerk. He was a complete and utter fucking douchebag. I have called him literally every name under the sun and I don't care about his reasoning because what he did to me was a jerk move; he was a dick and he was an asshole and he broke my heart. I tried so hard to make excuses for him; I never thought he would do something like that to me because I knew him--or at least I thought I did. I feel like what you're doing right now with this guy is the same thing--you're trying to make excuses for someone who does not deserve them. It sounds like what he really deserves is a kick to the face.

    Sorry, that ended up longer than I thought it would. I really like your analytical thinking about the word jerk. I toss it around and use it all the time to describe people, but I've never tried to see the person as being something bigger than that label. Definitely food for thought, but I also think that the label has something to do with the person using it. For example, there's me. I call people jerks and assholes without thinking twice about it. Then there's you. I don't know you THAT well but I think you're a much nicer person than I am, and you're willing to give people a second chance, whereas I'm more like one and done. I hate people. I think they suck. Which is why I think that, yes, guys (and girls) can just be jerks, with no other reasoning. You wrote above that maybe he was stressed and tired, which can be an excuse, but it's a shitty one. You have the mindset of people are mostly good; I think they are mostly not. And I think that has a lot to do with our using of the term "jerk."

    As to trying to figure out what happened, the guy was a douche. If he is no longer making the effort to talk to you and be friends, or more or whatever you want from him, then he is not worth your time. Don't overthink it; he's just a jerk (LOL).

    Sorry that this was like the longest comment in the history of long comments, haha

    1. Yay! leahcar commented!

      Thing is, unlike your situation, I didn't develop any romantic relationship with this guy but rather was wondering what would happen with our acquaintanceship down the road. He and I aren't a match, but like I said I still find him interesting enough to want him in my life somehow. Then again, maybe I'm better off without him in my life.

      I really like your analysis about how the word "jerk" depends on the person saying it. I didn't think of it that way.

      Thank you so much for your comment! I love it! :D

    2. Well, if I want to get technical here, there was zero romantic relationships between me and that guy I talked about. I fell for him and he kept saying, "I really like you, and I want to see where this goes, but not right now," so I don't know if that really falls under the category of "romantic relationship." BUT REGARDLESS. Even as purely friendship, I still think that if he's not going to put in the effort, than it's not worth it. You either need to confront him directly and just be in his face about it, or just let him go. Or maybe he'll surprise you and come back into your life, though from my experience, that's highly unlikely. Or maybe I've just been unlucky. Either way, good luck with him, haha.

      Haha you're welcome! I really enjoyed this topic a lot, sooo thanks for writing this post, lol :D

    3. Haha! Thanks! I think what I'm going to do is let it go and see if he surprises me, and I'll continue to be a friendly person.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this topic and post. You're very welcome! :D

  2. This was interesting, Stef. I'm a dude and have learned that some people in this world (both male and female) are just plain jerks and always will be. However, I agree with you that when someone is a jerk there is usually an underlying reason for it. I can't control other’s actions so I treat everyone the way I want to be treated...but I expect the same in return. Otherwise I won't waste my time on them!
    Every type of relationship needs input from both sides whether it's a husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, siblings, or even just a friend relationship. When one is giving way more in a relationship than the other is, it's unfair and is going to end or just plain suck.
    It sounds like you have been nothing but nice to this guy so don't feel guilty. I say if it continues to bother you, you should confront him about it. If a face-to-face makes you uncomfortable try writing him a letter where you can clearly think out your words. Geez, I sound like a freakin’ advice column with that last line! LOL But seriously if he doesn't want to be friends with you at least you will have some closure. For the most part I think everybody has "jerk tendencies" though. My girlfriend lets me know that all the time ;)

    1. Hey J.T.! I had a feeling you were gonna comment on this one! lol

      Thanks for your input and advice! I'm glad you liked this. :)

  3. A little late, but I'll just add my story and see if it sounds similar. Last year, I made an acquaintance with this guy, James. We were in 2 classes together and bonded on the fact that we were not having fun in either of them. He later began the pledging process into a fraternity, but we still were on the same page. I even helped him with a paper we had to do for one of the classes because he basically a zombie from the pledging crap. But after becoming a brother, he pretty much cut all ties without even telling me... Needless to say, I was pissed off and later came to the conclusion that his frat just happens to be loaded with sleazebags. Still, I stand by my belief that he IS a nice guy, but he chose the wrong people to devote himself to. I think he was cowardly not to warn me since my guess would be he thought a clean break would be better...I am not so sure about that.

    Anyway, you're not the only one to suffer through that type of experience and I was also told that boys are jerks by nature. I really don't believe that, especially since I have a brother (a boy) and jerk-like behavior comes naturally to all of us. Hope that helps:)

    1. Thanks for your input, Janis! However, I think with your situation you knew what changed your friend and that was joining the frat.