Speaking With No Authority

There are very few things which I could ever claim to have the ability to speak with some authority. Very few. And my ongoing life as a student constantly reminds me there is so much in the world still unlearned by the average person so expertise is hard to come by.

But let’s put expertise aside, the kind that lead to a group of people all on the same level discussing a familiar topic. In an average conversation there are different classes of conversationalists depending on the extent of their knowledge on a certain topic. And within those classes there are more details involved, for example: does this person know very little about the subject but is humble enough to nod their heads, make short summarized statements of what’s been said, pay a little attention, has a pure desire to learn and thus allows the conversation to retain its natural fluidity?

The answer to such questions gives you an impression of the character of an individual and who they are.

So naturally I’m massively annoyed by those whose ego is so immense that they cannot risk losing face for a single moment and thus not only do they go on and on about a subject they know absolutely nothing about but will change the nature of the subject to suit the extent of their knowledge, all the while relying heavily on broad statements that are guaranteed to draw controversy but not the kind of controversy that has people around him saying “I highly disagree” but rather thinking instead “what the fuck is this person talking about?” and “is this person on drugs right now?”. Statements like “I think women are inferior to men..” when the conversation was about, I dunno, women’s suffrage in the Middle East.

And so instead of discussing something constructive, something with some value, the conversation now shifts towards arguing with this person that they’re wrong and I think that’s something they already know but they rely on that argument, on that controversy. It puts them at the center of it all and gives them a sense of self-importance. But in the moment everyone is fooled.

It’s either that or the exact opposite of it: broad statements that everyone agrees on. But those are a different kind of bait, designed mainly to draw praise so that once again they feel important. Statements like “being alive is good” and “drinking cyanide is bad”. And everyone nods their heads in agreement, like drones.

And in either case everyone goes home having benefited very little from the massacre of words.

In their presence I love to observe these individuals. It’s like a car wreck: I can’t look away. I’ll turn my head to those surrounding them and observe their response based on which you can also tell quite a lot. Like the person who agrees with them and is always nodding their heads like a pawn. Or the person who has a frown on their face and a thought bubble can clearly be seen forming atop their heads; probably screaming silent obscenities.

But give these people a podium, a blog, a daily column, a microphone and there is not a single person on the ideological spectrum who doesn’t roll their eyes in the presence of such an individual.

As for me? Half the time I want to call them out on it, but mostly I just wished I owned a gun.

A really, really, big gun.


  • That is precisely why if I happened to be in a gathering (3azoomah) in Jordan I am almost always found outside chatting and playing with the kids!

    At which point I am told that it is disrespectful to the esteemed guests (hosts) to prefer playing to their serious conversation. (3eeb)

    My response is generally among the lines of, it is not that I prefer playing to serious conversation, rather the opposite, I just find the children more intellectually challenging and sincere, and that the childish games are what is going on inside! Which as you might expect goes down a treat.

  • I am in love with this post.

    This touched a nerve Naseem, really.

    These people annoy me to the extreme and I end up, like the commentator above, playing with the kids.

    I find Arabs, in general, like to one-up each other, itâ??s imbedded in the culture. There is no use in arguing or trying to correct them, For instance one time I was trying to explain to a person who was saying â?? when kids are born they see upside downâ? that this is incorrect. And I told her, why donâ??t you google it, she said I am sure, why donâ??t YOU google it. Those were 10 minutes of my life that I will NEVER get back.

    So I fall under the â??You are such an idiot, please shoot me, shut the flip up â? in your head category. To top it off ,they are so friking loud too when they talk

  • Hmm, I thought this post was about people like me. I think a lot of people like me desire to be engaged in a conversation and want to contribute. Maybe we aren’t subject matter experts but we want to feel like we understand the subject in laymen terms. So, I guess I should be listening a bit more. 🙂 Which is why I read blogs like this one, to get a better understanding of an area I don’t know about first-hand.

  • Nidal, lol ok you should consider not hanging out with the kids so often but i get your point man 😀

    7aki Fadi: “Those were 10 minutes of my life that I will NEVER get back”. if i had a piaster for every time i’ve thought that…

    Goodie Girl: thank you first of all for reading this blog even though i have no idea what area i talk about that could possibly be of use to you. but as for the person i’m talking about. i’m making an assumption here that most of who read this post might not know exactly the person. i gave a very sketchy shell of who im refering to but it’s one of those things where i would have to be in the room and then turn to someone and whisper: “remember that post i wrote…this is who i was talking about..”, mainly because everyone is such a unique and individual character that they might fit the cliche without having to fit the cliche (if you get what i mean) 🙂

  • Well, I had no clue about Dibben Forest until reading this blog. 🙂 The blogosphere can be like the travel channel at times. I just turn on my laptop and click until I find something interesting. Ha!

  • My friend … talk about touching the right nerve here … WOW

    Thank you man for this post … it is exactly the same ideas I find roaming in my head when faced with similar situation/person … and I find myself whispering to me: here we go again … and you know what; at the end of it, I realize that it was an exhausting trip from the beginning …

    The thing is .. such individuals can fool some people all the time and they can fool all people some of the time but they can never fool all people all of the time … si I guess it is a matter of time afterall

    Great post Nas … I never get tired of this blog 🙂

  • Khalidah: thanks and thanks for the comment too.

    and i agree with you about the fooling part…it’s just that most of the time the charade lasts too long of a time

    like a broadway show that just wont go away

Your Two Piasters: