Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Yes Fine, But Which One Is The Ass-Scratcher Fork?
Yesterday we talked about morals. Since I cleared that issue all up nicely and neatly in one single blogpost, it's appropriate now that we move on to the corollary issue of etiquette.
They're rooted in different things, morality and etiquette. When I think of morality, I think of issues of basic biological necessity written as social law--don't kill me, don't take the stuff I need to survive (which has come to include food, water, shelter, wheel rims and iPods), don't pollute my procreative genetic stream by sticking your DNA in my wife... that type of stuff.
When I think of the roots of etiquette, it's more "Look, if we have to all live together to keep from being eaten by tigers, the least you could do is make a minimal effort not to be such a disgusting, insensitive prick". I guess I would say that that etiquette sits atop the base of morality, governing social interaction in finer and finer degrees from the gross basics ("Please don't show your cock to my children") to narrow abstractions ("White shoes after Labor Day?!).
If I were going to describe this in a rhetorically confusing and ultimately useless metaphor, I'd say morals are the lemon and etiquette is the meringue.
Etiquette, it seems to me, is where definition and refinement happen, where culture is largely born, where lines between peoples are drawn on a finer scale than with the broad, sloppy brush of language. It is in those breaks in acceptable manner and social contact that people are separated into societies, extending even into what is acceptable to eat, a distinction without which there would be no Fear Factor.
The rules of etiquette are as pervasive and inescapable within a society just as they are liquid and arbitrarily varied between societies.
Even in new-ish social spaces like this one--the blog subset of construct internet--derivative, medium specific etiquette rushes in to fill the space between any two people who happen to converse. Happily, since we can't see each other, this doesn't translate directly from real-life, meaning not all taboos apply, which means I can engage in friendly text-only dialogue with all you people, my imaginary friends, wearing a poncho with no pants.
Even as bloggers there are rules we are expected to follow, messily and haphazardly translated from the flesh-and-blood. We even get some new, blog-specific rules like, say, how we shouldn't devote entire blogposts to making fun of blogs of people we don't know, even if they're blog is decorated with pictures of winged fairies and is comprised mostly of a long multi-part exegesis about the origins and derivation of the blogger's Elven name.
Another thing we're supposed to do is transmit memes once we get meme-tagged.
If you haven't guessed it yet, this long-ass post about nothing is basically me trying to weasel out of fulfilling a request to meme. My new BFF Emma Goldman shoehorned me into her list of the meme-tagged as penance for something I may or may not have said (suffice it to say, more etiquette).
I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, to politely decline. I know it's bad form. I know it makes me a bad blogger. But there are two very, very good reasons: 1) the one meme I have participated in was very, very similar (passed along to me that time by the fabulous Steph, whom I owe a link for skipping over her comment a few days ago) and I don't want to tarnish the memory of that little nugget of comic gold and 2) I was able to generate content for this blogpost without having to actually complete the meme. So yay, me!
So now I'm actively writing a blogpost about not writing a different blog post. This is so meta that I feel as though I'm coming dangerously close to closing a meta-blog feedback loop, the consequences of which are unknown and unknowable. We can only hope it somehow involves pie.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.6