We all have different ways of relaxing. Some of us read, some do yoga, others use this Wordle app and post the results on social media. What I ended up finding myself most often were Reddit posts asking for opinions and advice.
We can’t exactly use the community name here, so let’s call it “Am I the Jerk?”
Questions being asked in this format began nearly a decade ago, thanks to a grievance about a broken device. From there it spread to the point that the posts now have their own page on Reddit with nearly 4 million members, summed up as follows: “A catharsis for the frustrated moral philosopher in all of us, and a place to finally find out if you were wrong in an argument that’s bothering you. I’ve answered many dilemmas through the group, and on Facebook and Twitter where posts are shared, and usually it’s easy to determine the answer to the question “Am I the jerk?”
Answering questions from friends and family is one thing, but I got to experience a whole new dimension in it, thanks to our youngest daughter, Layla. Several months ago, without her knowing that I was already following the page, she started bringing me takes through her TikTok feed. In his case, an influencer cooks, draws, or applies hair or makeup products as he asks the final question, usually with a “yes” or “no” button you can press to vote on who the “jerk” is. “. They usually read like this: “I am a 25 year old female with a 22 year old roommate. I was ok with her boyfriend staying the night until he ate my leftovers last weekend. I told him he couldn’t come back unless I got my money back, and she thinks I’m too sensitive for anything. Is it me or is it her?
As a parent, I still believe we need to keep tight control over what our kids see online, so I was glad Layla was transparent with me about the content, although much of it deserves closer scrutiny ( or ban completely). “I think the questions are interesting because the stories teach you good life lessons,” she told me. “It helps me look for the wrong personality traits and people’s true colors.”
When I asked why she had asked me about these scenarios, her answer made me smile: “Your opinions carry life experience. I know I’m doing the right thing if our answers match.
I feel like the idea took off because we are all navigating a post-lockdown existence. After being isolated for so long, it can be difficult to determine if we are committing a false social break. Yet, there is a major difference between being unpractised or awkward with a different culture or generation and being rude or lacking in common sense.
Common issues that automatically catch the “you’re the dick” response are:
1. Propose at someone else’s engagement party or wedding. Yeah, that shouldn’t even be a question. It was cute for a minute as a scene in The best manbut in real life, it’s just rude and self-centered to make someone else’s nuptials all about you.
2. Make demands of your pregnant wife. There are too many partners and husbands who expect exhausted pregnant women to host dinner parties, put up with the rudeness of in-laws, and run the household unaided. Put that woman first or expect to be kicked out. Your choice.
3. Running on another person’s beliefs. Don’t touch my stepfather’s chest, and I won’t throw away your chickpeas. Being silent is free, as is getting off the stage.
To avoid jerkdom, boundaries will help. Until others find out, we can at least nudge them in the right direction with heated debates like these.
Lorrie Irby Jackson is a columnist at The Briefing. Email him at [email protected].