Don’t Be a Dick: Contemplations for a Less Dickish World
If you’re human, chances are likely that you’ve told someone at some point to stop being a dick. “Don’t be a dick,” you’ve said. None of us like dickishness. Especially when it comes from a source other than ourselves. This morning I stumbled into an anecdote of sorts, one that got me thinking along these lines. Please allow me to share.
An Anecdote on the Power of Non-Dickishness
As I try to do most days, I began this one with a walk. One of the benefits of living a block off Chicago’s lakeshore is the millions of miles worth of bushes and trees and otherwise-green-lined walkways. And so I try and make use of it most days by going for a stroll to help clear my mind and refocus my thoughts.
But something cool happened today.
I’m not sure where exactly you live. It could be in a tiny rural village or in the middle of a hustlin’ and bustlin’ metropolis. But in bigger cities like Chicago, strangers don’t usually say hi to one another. On occasion you might have someone make eye contact or smile, but even that’s kinda rare. And it’s especially rare for a passerby to actually force words from their mouth and talk to you.
But this morning, EVERYONE was stopping to say hello. I mean, I was just another strange passerby walking alongside all the other passersby in the Margate section of Lincoln Park. And normally this city stares right through me just as much as it does to everybody else.
First, an older gentleman slowed down as he walked by me. “What a lovely day,” he said with a large and generous smile.
Then a couple on a pair of bicycles rushed toward me. “Good morning!” the first enthusiastically offered, big ol’ smiles stretching across their faces and holding eye contact as they breezed by.
Six or seven other groups of people made their way past me over the next several minutes. And at least four or five of them simply smiled and nodded their heads in my direction.
A large bird swooped down about a dozen yards from the path. It picked up in its beak what appeared to be a dead bird of the same species and then flew away with it, carrying it to the treetops. I actually found it quite amazing and stood there watching for a moment as it flew off further into the park. As someone started speaking to me, I looked up to see a couple of older women. One of them said, “Isn’t it cool to see creatures caring for one another.”
“Yeah, it really is,” I said, smiling back. And they continued on their way as I did with mine.
This was all so rare, I didn’t really know what to make of it. Back in my small hometown of Milaca, Minnesota, something like this would be more common. There it’s almost considered rude to drive by another car without waving a hello in their direction. But not here. This is Chicago. We’re not as rigidly impersonal as NYC, but we can be close.
And then it hit me. It must be the t-shirt I was wearing. I made this connection when the next person pointed and said, “I like your shirt.”
Oh, my shirt. He likes my shirt. THEY like my shirt! The anomaly was identified.
It’s a dark grey t-shirt, one from Hereticl., a shirt with large white letters on the front that read: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER & DON’T BE A DICK.” —THE JESUS.
I’ve always quietly wondered if people were ever offended by it. At times I’ve decided NOT to wear it out of a desire to not draw the negative kind of attention to myself.
But today I’m thinking that not only are people not offended by the shirt, they actually seem like it. Somehow it seems to break down barriers. It’s like everyone agrees that we shouldn’t be a bunch of dicks and it makes them happy to see it stated so clearly.
It’s like people see it and think, “Hey, this guy seems to think we need more love and less dickishness in the world. Let’s say hello and see if he behaves as advertised and responds in a personable manner!” It’s like it puts us all at ease and helps us make new friends in the process! And all just from a simple t-shirt.
The encounters stirred my thinking pot, and so I’ve subsequently put my other blogging posts on hold to share some insights related to dickery and the need for a lack thereof.
But What is Dickery and Dickishness?
I suppose we should take a moment to make sure we’re all on the same page. What does it mean to be a dick or to be, as they say, dickish? I’m pretty sure that there’s not one single person reading this who doesn’t know what it means to be a dick, but just for kicks we’re gonna read the best of online definitions. If reading these doesn’t bring at least a little sliver of joy to your soul, chances are you don’t have one.
Seriously, this definition from Vocabulary.com should win the fucking Pulitzer. In my humble opinion, it’s well worth quoting the whole damn enchilada.
“Dick is a vulgar slang word for a penis. It’s also an insulting thing to call someone you don’t like, especially a boy or man.
“Much like ass, this word for a below-the-belt body part is very commonly used as an insult meaning pretty much “jerk” or “idiot.” Only males have dicks, and this insult is usually used toward a guy who is “acting like a dick.” Lots of people find this word offensive, especially parents, teachers, and other adults. If you have to discuss a dick, you’re better off saying penis or using a slang word that’s sillier and less offensive, like johnson.” (Vocabulary.com)
I don’t know about you, but those “parents, teachers, and other adults” sound like dicks. I mean, johnson just doesn’t have the same cock-ring to it.
From here, I gotta think the other terms are obvious. But just for clarity…
Don’t be a Dick.—
“An exclamation—said very quickly—that you can spout at anyone or anything at the slightest suggestion of dickery.” (Urban Dictionary)
The only thing I would contend against with this definition is the suggestion that it’s necessary said “very quickly.” Believe me, I’ve said it at all speeds. However, I suppose you could say that the slower and more emphatically one utters said exclamation, the more blatantly they’re actually breaking their own command.
“The state of being a dick.” (Urban Dictionary)
“To be brash and insensitive to another. To put your own interests above all else. To act like a penis.” (Urban Dictionary)
Is it a sign of irrevocable immaturity if I can’t stop laughing every time I read “to act like a penis”?
So here’s the question. What are we doing to make this world a less dickish place?
I’m not necessarily trying to single-handedly offer all the answers here today. (Or any of them.) I’m simply trying to advance my own thoughts along these lines— and take yours along with me.
While we’re at it, let’s break this dickishness up into realms of influence. In other words, we start with our most immediate context and push outward from there.
What can I do to personally be less of a dick myself?
What steps can I take to cultivate a less dickish community?
How might I then contribute toward the endgame of building a less dickish world?
Like I said, I’m not providing all the answers today. But I’m using this morning’s interactions— and the favorite t-shirt they revolved around— to take some time to consider what I can do to continually move forward in this direction.
I’m asking myself today how I might be guilty of acting like a penis on occasion. Am I a line jumper? No, I’m usually one to invite others ahead of me in line. Unless it comes to driving. Then I’m always doing every thing I can to cut ahead. Today a fellow traveler extended me an enthusiastic waving of their middle phalange. Now, one could accuse them of being a dick for flicking me off. Or you could suggest that I was the dick for forcefully honking at them in a way that incited their emphatic phalange-fest in the first place.
But, honestly, I only honked at them because they had stopped in the middle of my lane in the middle of the intersection for no reason.
Or is it dickish for me to assume they didn’t have a good reason to stop in the middle of the intersection just because the reasons wasn’t readily visible to me?
But I suppose you could say that when my personal dickishness provoked the dickery of my fellow traveler, it in effect produced a greater sense of dickishness in the community around me. That then feeds into the second realm listed above.
Thankfully, the world itself is already pretty dickish. I take no ultimate responsibility for it.
But maybe there’s something I can do, some small step I can take, to help alleviate world dickishness. Even if it’s in a super incremental way.
Like making up the difference for the person in line ahead of me at Walgreens who doesn’t have enough money to pay for their toiletries.
Or helping the old lady at Smoque Barbeque load up her to-go order in the bag that was slightly too small.
Or letting the older gentleman cut in line ahead of me for the restroom.
Or letting the young college student also cut in line.
Or then apologizing to all the people behind me in line who are now upset that I’m also letting the older gentleman and the young college student cut in front of them too.
Or, yes, wearing a t-shirt with Jesus telling everyone to stop being a bunch of dicks and giving my fellow passersby something to chuckle at.
So at the end of the day, we know what we need to do and not do. Don’t be a dick, people. Let’s not be dicks together. Here’s three cheers to a little less dickishness in the world.