Parrot People and Ignorance of Age
Today was mostly a productive and exciting day for me. I got a lot of new things done and learned some more tricks in C#. I really need to get around to teaching others how to do fun stuff as well. The thing I want to talk about today was what happened at the beginning of the day. I’m edging ever closer to 30. When I was younger I expected that I’d hit a point someday where I’d just be an “adult”. Like I’d wake up and get a card in the mail. I’d join all the other adults and we’d look down on everyone younger than us. What I didn’t quite realize is that while I’ve been getting older so have the people that I’ll be working under.
You might not be aware of this but age discrimination is actually not protected by harassment laws. If you work somewhere and people treat you like less of a person because of your age that’s totally fine. You might wonder why. The simple answer, as far as I can see it, is that these laws were written by older people. Older people stereotypically look down on people beneath them. With each passing year they see people as less and less disciplined. Less and less knowledgable. Etc, etc. This only gets worse. When you are 20 and looking at 15 year olds you might think “How naive.”
When you are 50 and looking at 15 year olds you might think “Good lord they have no idea.” How I approach problems has certainly changed over the years. My passions have been smoothed out and I tend to be less invested in things. Part of this comes from the rising tide of digital drama. Because of our connectedness it is really difficult to keep things below a boiling point. I’ve come to accept that for now and just avoid it as best I can. People voice their opinions, I voice mine, and then we part ways. There is no need to waste time beyond that.
We return to my work this morning and something I’ve dealt with since I first started working. People older than me have an incredible ability to hear what I say, act like they didn’t hear it, then parrot it back to me seconds or minutes later as their own idea. This drives me absolutely batshit insane. It eats away at me and I dwell on it for longer than I should. The higher the position of the person the more often they tend to do this. It’s not even subtle either.
You’ll say “I think we should have apples for lunch.” They’ll not respond or only passingly shrug. Then a minute or two later they’ll say. “What we should do is have apples for lunch.” Really? Do I have a magic power where my words fall deafly upon your ears and seep into your brain? Twisting the fibrous matter between your grey folds and manipulating you to my ways? Am I like wormtongue? If I have this great and fabulous power could someone please tell me? I shall only use it for evil sometimes I promise.
I can only wonder if this stems from the ignorance of age. The growing belief that something you like couldn’t possibly be divined by someone younger than you. Those ideas are stripped from the object of their creation and then reconstituted with you at the center of their origin. I can think of no other way to explain this. If it had only happened once or twice in my life I might chalk it up to miscommunication or chance.
But it has happened dozens of times. Only a couple at my current job. But it still drives me bonkers. I have so much trouble working with parrot people. To hear my own words spoken back to me within the same shaky air that my own breaths had just manipulated. In these moments I understand, to some degree, the frustrations of people who are plagiarized. How irritating it must be to try and have a genuine interaction with other humans and have them twist it before you. To take those few things that you can call your own and take them as theirs.
I get tempted from time to time to just record meetings. So that when this happens I can address it and even show it off to others. To find out if I’m lost in a broken corner of the matrix or if instead observing something that many other people experience.