A Tip of the Ass Hat

If I were a celebrity, I’m sure I would suck. Not (necessarily) at my job, whatever that would be, but as a person to the general public. I would be, not an asshole, but an asshat. Alas that “asshole” scans better, that I thus utter it when inattentive. An asshole is a very much non-negative body part, and thus poor synechdoche as a body-shaming slur. Without assholes we’d fill up with shit and die. An asshole, or a dick, or a cunt, is, if not a blessing, at least functional, like a stomach or bone marrow. Body-shaming slurs, let alone those that are gendered or ableist, have no place in discourse. But having one’s head up one’s ass – wearing one’s ass atop one’s head like a Trilby – is a personal choice, not a consequence of genetics and developmental biology, and as a slur is both literally and figuratively not body-shaming. There is surely a place for “asshat” in incivil discourse (e.g. certain blog posts and comment sections), and possibly in civil.

But why would I be an asshat if I were a celebrity? Let’s turn that question around. Why are some celebrities asshats? To be well-known in public is to invite attention from strangers. If the celebrity is not naturally gregarious, as I am not, this increased attention becomes besetting. Dealing patiently and civilly with besetting strangers will quickly use up all of my socializing resources, leading to exhaustion and stress. Being brusque as a general persona might well be less draining, even if guilt-engendering. Even a highly gregarious celebrity, especially if they achieved fame through workaholic overachievement, will reach a limit, if only in time spent with the nice people they enjoy interacting with, perhaps intentionally blowing people off just so they can get back to what they’re doing.

I suppose I would still be a loner if I became a celebrity, but I assume if I actually did become one it’s because I would have gotten off my (good! functional! not body-shaming!) ass and made metaphorical shit happen. And knowing about how people love being part of the following of a charismatic personality, but not wanting to acquire such a following (OK, this pretty much writes off me ever being a celebrity except by accident), I think I might become a deliberate asshat. Premeditated asshattery as a defense mechanism. I do hate being rude, but when driven I will do it, albeit at as low as possible of rudeness level, initially. I probably won’t tell somebody off, but I may just go back to my reading or doodling, or walk away, or otherwise start obviously and actively ignoring them.

I don’t actually think I will become a celebrity. I am not even the kind of person who can keep up with non-celeb career-maintenance stuff such as being on committees, connecting to people on LinkedIn, or improving my scientometrics. I have nothing against all that stuff per se, only a personal dislike of doing it. High school socializing writ large. I have never participated in that stuff enthusiastically, and after participating, never reaped the emotional high or whatever that keeps others doing it and getting good at it. I have acquired the occasional following, and even received advice from mentors and advisors about how to capitalize on it, but it is simply too much social effort for me, and social effort is a lot more draining than technical effort. If I were a genius or a workaholic, I could get a pass from doing that stuff, but as possibly blogged elsewhere (can’t be bothered to check; perhaps I’ve also blogged about my sloth!) I simply don’t spend my time draining my precious energy for social position or even career advancement. A betrayal, of myself and others. If it’s your thing, or you can at least handle it, my hat’s off to you!