TED Conversations

Amy Winn


This conversation is closed.

Why is it that other people's behavior bothers us?

Today I witnessed a young mom with two small children and one on the way smoking a cigarette and it bothered me. So I am asking the question why, and does that bother you too?

We have all seen the disapproving glances that are given to someone with lots of tattoos or piercings by someone that has none. We have all seen drivers that are paying attention to anything but the road, and we shake our heads in frustration. We watch our neighbors spend money on beer when their kids have holes in their shoes, and get a knot in our stomach over it. But these issues do not involve our lives, our money or our decisions, so why do we care? Everyone says “butt out”, or “it’s not your business”, and at the same time I keep hearing that phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.”

So, folks, which is it, does it take a village, or do we mind our own business? When do we speak up and when do we stand back, and how do we control feeling torn apart when other peoples’ behavior bothers us?

Feel free to share what bothers you, whether or not you did anything about it, what exactly you did, and if you believe that it made a difference.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Dec 9 2013: None of those items bother me, I am not a drone of enforced society normality, I respect they have their choices.

    Now if someone's hitting a kid or trying to hit me or invading nor respecting my rights, well that's a different game.
    • thumb
      Dec 9 2013: Hi Steven, I am only making a guess here, that you are probably much younger that I am. I say this because so many of the behaviors that seem to have an effect of me were not as common as during the time I grew up. If you are raised with certain behaviors as being common to you, then of course it is so much easier to adapt. I just don't want to become one of those old ladies that days "Oh, kids these days....", instead I am trying to adapt to what is now "the norm". so I appreciate your comment very much and I hope that you stay tough and strong.
      • Dec 10 2013: actually I'm probably a serious amount of years older than you. :)

        But given that, I recognize these things. 1) I was young once 2) people through whatever kind of self expression, need to find themselves. 3) For some that can be learned, for other that needs experimentation.

        How can I justify criticizing people because they have orange hair, or metal studs, or smoke, or ...

        I dont, I only judge by whats in their hearts and by their actions. And particularly those who take action against those who maybe defenseless.

        I dont think you need to adapt to the norm, i think you need to find who you are, when you do that you'll have confidence in yourself and others. You'll see not as "these days" and the differences, but rather as just different people on a path, who are expressing themselves, trying to find themselves, just like you.
        • thumb
          Dec 10 2013: Thanks Steven, Your words are very meaningful and relevant and I too, do not want to judge anyone for their self expression. I too was a teenager and young adult once and was told to "straighten up", and had no idea what that meant. What causes a knot in my gut are not orange hair, in fact I think that is great if you can get away with it, especially if you are in a creative or artistic job. Hair color can be changed tomorrow if became an issue but terrible behavior may be more of a challenge in "straightening up", and I still don't know exactly what that means but here is an idea.... I was talking about people that will not give up their seat for an elderly woman, people that cut in line without any regard for others time, people that show up work for late four times a week when there is such a high unemployment rate, people that would kick a dog, people that would smack a child, people that curse out loud or fight in public without any regard for the presence of children, people that would see someone in danger and not at least call 911. My dream is that we could all do a better job in taking another under our wing, and showing them ways, from all that we have learned as older adults (you and I) so that they don't lose that job, lose that child, get arrested and waste their lives, or get assaulted or abused by someone that does judge them. I am in no way a hater. My goal in this idea was to express my concern that nobody pays attention to each other and step up when they see something that makes that knot. Walking away, shaking your head or saying "that's a shame" will not fix anything. Giving a helping hand and offering to share a ride to work or lend an ear to someone who is frustrated may have a deep effect on how they behave in the future. I hope that this is what you meant by "whats in their hearts and by their actions" And for those that are defenseless, I agree wholeheartedly that we should all do more to help them. Thanks Steven.
      • Dec 10 2013: All we have ironically on this earth is time. Nothing else. So the only important thing is how we use it. Interesting all we can ever use it for is experience, because there is nothing else.

        Now while you talk of "straightening up", I've worked with many young people, and the when show the time and effort that values their contribution, they do respect that and do look at things differently. ie straighten up.

        But simultaneously, we are in this decade at a population level that is twice was it was 50 years ago. Society too has changed, things move faster. Just look at the news, not only is there a presenter but one often two ticker tapes too. So we focus less. We have less time. And we are concerned less. Take a movie too, when films were originally released they stayed at the cinema for a year, now they are lucky to stay on a month. And the same is true for TV, while we all used to talk about the same program, now with 400 channels we've all be come - fragmented.

        Ironically it takes a huge event to make people realize what they have lost, I remember 9/11 not for the carnage, but for the hope it gave, as people awoke to the true realization of what was and is important, others.

        Unfortunately, as you write, I too see that, that reminder has been forgotten, as everyone jumped on the treadmill again.

        Same is true for Sandyhook, it hits the news and just as quickly it disappears, we never see or know the consequences, specifically in the long term. That is reflected in the way people act, have less time, less concern and society as a whole is less connected with each other.

        I'd suggest that you do what you can - as I stated below, don't let others actions define who you are. If you want to speak out - speak out, if you want to be involved be - involved.

        And if that makes you to your family emotional - be emotional. Because no matter what movies you like you're only engaged which characters that show emotions. And life imitates art. So therefore learn from art.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.