Degrees of Immaturity  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , , ,

One of the things that I could not help noticing repeatedly these past few weeks was teenage girls' habit of reacting to whatever they do not understand with one single word: "ew."

Besides for the obvious things (like being confronted by food they dislike or seeing a smashed mosquito with its body parts smeared all over the wall), "ew" becomes the standard response to anything that is unusual, difficult to understand, emotional, or simply beyond their comprehending.

I often hear girls declare others' personal preferences, lifestyles, or choices to be "ew." It is said so casually that it seems the speaker put no thought into it before mindlessly insulting somebody else. Not everybody realizes that a short, two-letter word can be as much of an insult as throwing dozens of nasty comments at a person. Sometimes, this word is accompanied by an explanatory sentence, in which case you at least have a fair opportunity to respond.

"You're taking that class next year? Ew. You enjoy that subject? Ew. You walk around in sweatpants and with messy hair while working out in the gym? Ew. Ew, what's that perfume? Ew, that food is disgusting; how can you eat it?"

Sometimes girls use it to describe an aspect of themselves. ("Ew, look at my hair.") That, however, is a separate issue, which I covered in a previous post -- Bright Rays of Sunshine.

What I really wanted to write about though is the lack of understanding. When girls hear about a certain lifestyle in class that they cannot relate to, they simply say, "Ew." They don't bother understanding it, they don't care to see the advantages of it; all they know is that it is unusual to them, and it is therefore ew.

When we are reading literature in class and a character expresses his or her emotions very poignantly, I hear a couple of voices saying "awww," and then I also hear those inevitable tones of disgust exclaiming, "Ew!"

As we were reading Tale of Two Cities in class recently, we briefly discussed the sentence in which it was revealed that Dr. Manette kept some of his wife's hair throughout his stay in prison, because it reminded him of his love for her and her love for him even when they could not see each other. One of my classmates loudly exclaimed, "Ew! He kept her hair?" The issue at hand is not whether keeping someone's hair with you is normal, but how people react to it. There are multiple possible reactions to every statement or situation. One of those reactions is to remain silent and try to understand the person's motives and emotions, while another likely reaction is to brush it off with a simple "ew."

It takes a certain degree of maturity to be able to evaluate a situation and put in effort to actually understand it. Of course, I am not implying that it is necessary in life to be able to sympathize with a fictional character to whom you just cannot relate, but there comes a time in life when you have to let go of that little ugly word and try to understand the people in your own life. Chances are that what you read in books you will find in real life as well. You may as well learn now how to deal with certain situations, personalities, preferences people might have, or expressions of emotion. If reading a despairing character's musings on life disgusts you, what will you do when one of your friends (or your spouse) is going through a rough time and wants to confide in you? Will you be disgusted by it and by the person?

One of the things I love about literature is some authors' ability to create characters that are realistically flawed, that you can either feel for or be repulsed by. For some reason, those characters are usually my favorites, but most of the people I discuss it with are repelled by them. Oh well. To each his own, I suppose -- but I do wish people would give other people (or fictional characters) a fair chance.

It's funny, in an ironic sort of way, that many girls accuse guys of being insensitive when they themselves are not much better sometimes!

Disclaimer: This post was not meant to be an attack on teenage girls. I only mentioned them so often because they are the ones that initially inspired this post. I do not either mean to imply that my classmates are immature; this post is only talking about a minority of them. Unfortunately, however, that minority is often so outspoken and blatant, that it is more noticeable.

Why can't we all at least try to understand each other, to dig deeper and see what the other person is feeling or thinking, to see what is truly going on even if it is beyond what we ourselves have felt or experienced? Why are things we do not understand so often summed up as "ew"? Why must we unfavorably pass immediate judgment based on first impressions, which are often superficial?

This entry was posted on Monday, May 18, 2009 at Monday, May 18, 2009 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

Yeah, girls suck ; )

...I just hope I don't marry a girl who says "ew" instead of taking care of the baby!

May 19, 2009 at 4:25 AM

I have only one thing to say, meh :-D

May 22, 2009 at 11:37 AM

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