Three Pet Peeves

Here be the mid-point of the 30-day Writing Challenge 2016, where I outline three things that I do not like at all. They peeve me and get the ole blood to boiling.

1. Arrogant Blind Ego

Everyone has an ego (I certainly do) and varying levels of pride, self-awareness insecurity and assertiveness. What really peeves me though is people who approach pretty much every situation as if they are right and are unable to waver from their position. I’ve had to learn how to not respond in kind.

This is completely different from assertiveness and confidence, of which I am a big admirer I’m talking about when people are unable to listen to an alternate opinion without thinking it’s an argument they have to win. This typically escalates a discussion to an argument. In my experience, arguments generate winners and losers, whereas discussions only generate winners.

When faced with difference and an opposing viewpoint, people suffering from arrogant blind ego become unable to hear what the other person is saying. If this doesn’t lead to the other person giving up and letting the obviously superior being win – by either doing what they say or bowing at their feet in deference to their obvious greatness – the blind egoist will resort to badgering and bullying and tangential emotional triggers to get their way.

More than anything I find dealing with people acting like this exhausting. Unless it’s something that has strong personal value, I prefer to disengage early so I don’t end up in a pointless debate.

The more I see this quality in other people the better I get at halting it in myself.

2. Being told to ‘show my teeth’ for photos

This really gives me the shits. I know that many people smile with their mouths wide open, flashing their rows of pearly whites. That’s perfectly fine.

I’ve taken a lot of photos of people and know that some of us smile with our teeth and some don’t. Not everyone has a perfectly straight row of shiny white ivory in their mouth. Given the perfect Hollywood teeth scenario, maybe some of us are self-conscious of that.

Maybe also opening our mouths like that doesn’t feel like smiling. Maybe it feels like surprise or shock. Maybe we’re worried about flies or other flying critters getting in our mouths.

Whatever the case, straight out telling someone how to smile is a guaranteed way to ensure that they don’t smile naturally and won’t be happy with the photo. Basically: don’t impose the way you do something on other people.

The best way to get people to smile naturally in a photo isn’t to tell them to smile or how to smile; it’s making them smile or laugh and capturing the shot when their smile is at its natural peak.

Shorter: do not tell me to show my teeth for a photo unless you’re my dentist taking an x-ray.

3. Fundamentalists

Related to my first pet peeve, but not the same. Someone suffering from arrogant blind egoism may exhibit fundamentalist tendencies in the moment, but it’s a temporary lock into a particular pattern of behaviour, where the cure is to either walk away or tell them how right they are, reasserting their obvious intellectual superiority. That, or you can wear them out with reason and compassion, but that’s exhausting.

Fundamentalism is more serious. A fundamentalist lives their life centered around a particular belief – most commonly related to a religion, but also often ‘religion-like’ activities– and hold the countervailing view that everyone who doesn’t agree with them is wrong and stupid and should either be killed, forcibly detained or gently euthanised.

Fundamentalism is often accompanied by a degree of hero-worship, focussing on a messiah, a leader or a prophet. Some might call them leaders: religious, intellectual, social or political. The fundamentalist follows the teachings of their ‘leader’ blindly and is unable to see that their guru is actually as human as the rest of us, and that their ‘way’ might not be for everyone.

Personally, I like to see myself as a curious and creative person. Seth Godin writes in Tribes: ‘A curious person embraces the tension between his religion and something new, wrestles with it and through it, and then decides whether to embrace the new idea or reject it.’ This seems pretty spot on to me.


I have a lot of time for people who are genuinely engaged in religion, thinking about stuff, society and politics. These people are generally interesting and fun and engaged in their communities, but not the fundamentalists – those religious zealots and hardline atheists, the ideologues and political hacks. They lack curiosity, imagination and the ability to laugh at themselves. Frankly, it’s boring and I’ve got better things to do.

Honourable mentions:

  1. Fear of missing out. I get that bad and I hate it. People are doing things – I must do that thing!
  2. People who say socks and sandals aren’t cool – WRONG. They are.
  3. Time. A human construct I’m obviously trapped in. Would like a lot more of it really. Join the club, right?
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