Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bad Talk, Take Two: George's Story

As announced in my post about How to Respond to Bad Talk in a Good Way, I am honored to host the voices of some of those who joined our discussion back at Agile Testing Days 2017.

Today I'd like to share with you the thoughts and experiences of George Dinwiddie, written by himself, in his own words.
I often struggle with what to say when friends say things I now consider inappropriate, or at least inappropriate to the circumstances. Society has changed over time, and not everyone is socialized at the same rate into new understandings. Many things that were once considered normal things are now out of bounds by today’s standards. Or, at least, by some people’s standards today. It’s obvious that not everyone has the same standards.
When I was growing up, the rules I saw in use in the society around me were quite different from what I try to follow today. When I watch an old movie from the early 1960s, I often cringe at lines or situations that didn’t bother me then. Every now and then I catch myself in mid-joke, realizing that the punchline hinges on assumptions that I now find unacceptable, and awkwardly stop in embarrassment. These are not jokes I made up. They’re jokes that I heard as a child that lie dormant in my subconscious memory to pop out in surprise. If I still have remnants of these attitudes in me, how can I condemn someone for speaking them in my presence?
Yet I must say something. I must say something to remind myself of the changes I have chosen over the decades. I must say something to help my friend choose such changes too, or to help them notice a lapse in a choice they’ve made. And I want to do so in a gentle way, so as to remain friends and be most helpful. Surely over the long run I can have more influence on my friends than on my former friends.
And if I say something inappropriate, I would hope my friends would do the same for me. I suspect that, given the socialization I received as a child, I will never reach the level of behavior to which I aspire. I do, however, wish to continue to improve the best that I can.
—George Dinwiddie
Thank you, George, for sharing your thoughts with us.

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