This is a concept that I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Maybe, like with most things philosophical, its something I probably won’t ever stop thinking about, at least in some sense.I seem to vaguely recall back in high school, after first learning the term, that I thought I didn’t have one. I don’t remember why, in particular, that I felt that way, but in any case, I’ve long since moved on from that train of thought. As an aside, it seems that my adolescent thinking is muddled in my brain now. I thought alot of stupid things. Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe that is just the process we all go through on the way to becoming independent, rational people. Anyway…

My continued thinking on this topic, I believe, developed along with my own sense of self accomplishment, and with how I received rewards or praise for that along the way. I think that stands to reason. How do we establish our own sense of self-importance without a steady stream (or perhaps lack thereof) of praise for what we feel we’ve done right and well.

Which leads to one of my worst pet peeves. I am almost viscerally abhorent of people who believe they need to tell you how good they are at something. You know what? Don’t bother. Why should I believe you? Doesn’t that lead to the next phase anyway, where I ask you to prove it? It reminds me of two boxers, during the “press” thing they do before hand and get weighed in and such. Invariably, they show the two boxers, standing face to face, noses about an inch apart, looking mean and as if they’re about to go at it right then and there. When we see that, do we think “Wow, look at those two really mean guys”. No… we think “Wow, they look funny all puffed up and in each other’s faces.” So by that same measure, do you think I am going to be impressed by your puffed up chest and telling me what a great (insert random skill here) you are? No, I’m just going to think you sound funny and have a small penis.

Since I really started forming these thoughts, years ago, it always seems best to me to just not every say anything. I’ve played pool at competitive levels for a long time. When someone asks “Do you play well?” my stock answer is almost always “I can hold my own”. I refuse to misrepresent myself. I’m not going to *lie* to them. I’ve never been a “shark”, or someone who will play one way to get you to feel that I lack skill, and then once there’s money on the table, throw it all down and beat you to a pulp. In my experience, if you’re seeking to play pool for money, there are more than enough people who will put down money for the challenge and don’t need you to put on a show. So in short… I’d rather see someone’s performance in their actions as opposed to their words.

So why does it make me so angry? Like I said, its a nearly visceral reaction. Maybe there was some deep seated event in my past I haven’t fully examined yet that was brought on by this. I really don’t know. Ideally… well, let me bring out an old Heinlein quote for this…

“This sad little lizard told me that he was a brontosaurus on his mother’s side. I did not laugh; people who boast of ancestry often have little else to sustain them. Humouring them costs nothing and adds to happiness in a world in which happiness is always in short supply.”

Why can’t I have such a Zen outlook towards people who do this? I mean, I do recognize that they’re inflating things for a reason. Be it insecurity or what have you. Why can’t I just let well enough alone and let them live in their delusions? It is a mystery.