Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'll Tell You What Annoys Me - By Morgan Mandel

I thought I'd do a fun exercise today. I'll mention a few habits people have that annoy me. You do the same in the comment section. Then anyone who wants to can combine some here and make either a villain or quirky character. Of course, real villains have some redeeming qualities, as do quirky characters, but for our purposes, the more annoying the better.

That's an Istock photo on the right by the way, not me. (g)

Okay, I'll Tell You What Annoys Me -

People who spit on the sidewalk. That is so gross.

People who hunt in their purses or pockets for change instead of just giving the cashier a bill or credit card. They think they're doing a good deed, but are actually holding up the line.

Your turn - What annoys you?

For More Fun, visit my personal blog at http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/
or join me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

Thanks - Morgan Mandel


Infogypsy said...

I've been working on a philosophy that our reality comes from our speaking. In the past, I've voiced a lot of resentments and annoyances (and I had a lot of them); instead I'm practicing only allowing myself to speak from generous thoughts. Of course, sometimes I slip. I'm going to say here I'm committed to all of you in Book Place having powerfully successful careers!

Morgan Mandel said...

Okay, Lynn's character is the hero or heroine of a story. Now let's start composing a villain or amusing character with an annoying trait or two.

Anonymous said...

Irritating to me? When people say
"LOOSE" instead of "LOSE"! THEY are
TWO completely different words with
very different meanings! :( Check
it out in the Dictionary and see!

Unknown said...



The first criticism of my writing, at least the criticism that I remember, was in 1950 when I was in grade one in the then small southern Ontario town of Burlington, a part of what is still called the Golden Triangle. It’s jammed right at the left-hand end of Lake Ontario. I’m sure I received criticism of my writing in the three years before that from my family members and playmates, perhaps as early as 1947 when I was three or four and colouring or printing my first words on paper, but I have no memories of that incoming criticism, no memories until, as I say, 1950. That was more than 60 years ago(1950 to 2010). Criticism is annoying at the best of times and quite disturbing at the worst of times.

Early in this new, this third, millennium, in 2004 to be precise, I began to receive written criticism of my prose and poetry on the internet. I had received criticism, mostly verbal, of my published writing from 1974 to 2004 during which time I was able to get some 150 essays published in newspapers and magazines in Australia. Writing had become, by the 1970s, a more central focus to my life, much more central than it had ever been, although it had always been central in one way or another at least, as I say above, since 1950. When one is a student receiving criticism of what one writes is part of the core of the educational process. Sometimes that criticism is fair and helpful; sometimes it is unkind the destructive.

Being on the receiving end of criticism on the internet has been, in some ways, just a continuation of that half-century(1950-2000) of comments on what I wrote. The internet is full of lumpen bully-boys who prowl the blogosphere. There are the hysterical secularists who proliferate among that immense commentariat. There are the dogmatic Islamists and Christian fundamentalists who try to impose their interpretation of the Quran or the Bible on the rest of the Muslim or Christian communities, respectively. My experience on the internet, as I say, was just a continuation of the decades of criticism I had already received. Writers, as F. Scott Fitzgerald says so succinctly over dinner in a film of his last years, Last Call, must get used to criticism. It’s part of the air they breath if they are going to be out in the public domain.

Literary tyrants, people who are going to tell you where, when, why and how you have gone wrong in no uncertain terms, without mincing their words or pulling any punches, without what you might call an etiquette of expression and tact, have always come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. One must learn to deal with them in one way or another as their criticisms come your way in the daily round. There are many MOs, modus operandi, to use a term from the who-dun-its, in dealing with the harsh and not so harsh words of others. Of course, it is not only writers who have to deal with critical tongues and words in many forms. A vast literature now abounds on how to deal with this reality of life.

The reactions to criticism of their work of two famous writers are discussed below in this 3300 word essay because their reactions throw light onto my own way of dealing with this inevitable reality of existence if one is, as I am, a writer, a poet, a man of words, a writer of belles-lettres, a belletrist. For many writers the term belles lettres is used in the sense to identify literary works that do not fall easily into the major categories such as fiction, poetry or drama. Much of my writing has become, in the last twenty-five years, 1985 to 2010, a hybrid that does not really fit comfortably into the major categories of writing.

And so it is that after more than sixty years of having to deal with the phenomenon of critical feedback of my written work I pause here to reflect on the incoming criticism of what I have written and what I now write. It is still annoying but I have learned to accept it as part of the very air one breathes--although thank God--not all the time.-Ron

Unknown said...


In 1936, right at the start of the Baha’i teaching Plan, a Plan in which I have been myself engaged in a host of ways during the last fifty years(1959-2010), the American poet Laura Riding(1901-1991) wrote to a correspondent: "I believe that misconceptions about oneself which one does not correct, but where it is possible to correct, act as a bad magic.” That bad magic has been at work on the reputation of Laura Riding for many years, for well over 70 years.

One of the criticisms levelled at her in her later life, and repeated recently by the renowned literary critic Dr. Helen Vendler, was that she "spent a great deal of time writing tenacious and extensive letters to anyone who, in her view, had misrepresented some aspect, no matter how minute, of her life or writing." Vendler found Riding, somewhat predictably, "more than a little monomaniacal,” in relation to criticism of her work. It is true that despite advanced age and failing health, Riding continued her vigorous and valiant, one might even say, fanatical attempt to halt the spread of misconceptions about herself and her writing to the very end of her life. But the "bad magic" was too powerful to be overcome. Incidentally, this view of criticism that Riding held, the view that it was “bad magic," was held by a woman who was also accused of being a witch and of exercising a literary witchcraft by some of her zealous critics.

Why was Riding so scrupulous in her attempts to correct misconceptions of her life and writing no matter how minute? It was, partly at least, because she recognized the importance of details to the understanding of human character. "The details of human nature are never a matter of infinitesimals," she wrote in an essay published in 1974. "Every last component of the human course of things is a true fraction of the personal world, reflecting a little its general character." She, like many other writers and non-writers it should be added, never welcome criticism. Some react to the slightest criticism like a cornered wildcat and others like a barking dog.

My approach to incoming criticism is more diverse than Riding’s, not as consistently intense and defensive, not as sensitive to infinitesimals, not like that wildcat or that barking dog. Sometimes I ignore the comment; sometimes I am tenacious and write an extensive response; sometimes I write something brief and to the point. Sometimes I deal with the comment with some attempt at humour, sarcasm and wit, if I can locate these clever sorts of written repartee in my intellectual and sensory emporium. I certainly agree with Riding that we should not be judged by some infinitesimals, but it is difficult when one writes extensively in the public domain not to be judged by all sorts of things of which infinitesimals are but one of the many.

Unknown said...


After six years from 2004 to 2010 of keeping some of the written and critical feedback sent to me by readers on the internet, I must conclude that, thusfar, the negative feedback hardly amounts to much that is of any significance, at least to me. This is not to say that this criticism has not been useful. Most of the feedback has to do with my participation at various websites, participation that was negatively viewed. My posts were seen, when viewed in a negative light, as: too long, not appropriate, raising the hackles of some readers because they were seen as irrelevant, boring, inter alia. I thought this personal statement here, this brief overview, analysis and comment, would be a useful summary of both the incoming criticism I have received in the last six years and my views on that criticism.

Some people on the internet let you know, as I have already indicated above, in no uncertain terms what they think of your posts. Frankness, candour, invective, harsh criticism, indeed, criticism in virtually every conceivable form, can be found in the interstices of cyberspace, if one writes as much as I do at more than 6000 locations among the 260 million sites and 4.6 billion subjects, topics or items of information at last count, that are now in existence in that world of cyberspace. In the last six years I have been on the receiving end of everything imaginable that someone can say negatively about someone’s writing and someone. This negative feedback has been, as I say, useful and I have tried to respond in ways that improve readers’ opinions of my work and, sometimes, of me. Sometimes I am successful in these efforts of explanation, of self-justification, of defence, and sometimes I am not. Such are the perils of extensive writing and human interaction; indeed, such are the perils of living unless one is a hermit and does one’s own plumbing and electrical work, never goes shopping and relies only on the products of one’s garden for food.


To draw now on a second writer and how he dealt with criticism, I introduce Sir Isaiah Berlin(1909-1997). He was a leading political philosopher and historian of ideas. In a lecture he gave in 1970 on the Russian poet Ivan Turgenev, Berlin pointed out that this famous Russian writer altered, modified and tried to please everyone in some of his works. As a result, one of the characters in his books “suffered several transformations in successive drafts, up and down the moral scale as this or that friend or consultant reported their impressions.” Berlin went on to say in that same lecture that Turgenev was inflicted by intellectual wounds as a result of the criticism of his works by others, wounds that festered by varying degrees of intensity, depending of course on the nature of the criticism, for the rest of Turgenev’s life.

Turgenev was attacked by writers and critics of many persuasions on the Left and the Right of the political spectrum in those days when these terms left and right had more clear and understandable demarcations. This Russian writer possessed, Berlin noted, what some have called “a capacity for rendering the very multiplicity of inter-penetrating human perspectives that shade imperceptibly into each other, nuances of character and behaviour, motives and attitudes, undistorted by moral passion.” Turgenev, like Riding, could never bear the wounds he received from incoming criticism of his writing in silence. He shook and shivered under the ceaseless criticisms to which he exposed himself, so Berlin informs us.

Morgan Mandel said...

Ok, we could do a character who has an
annoying trait of verbally jabbing people online.
What else?
Morgan Mandel

Helen said...

Morgan, you last comment made me laugh.

I think this example could be used for a bad guy: I recently played with my Bunco group (we've been together for forever). We played at a house where the host had two small cute dogs. She kept them outside, but we could see them through the windows. One player kept making comments about how much she hates dogs (she's cat person). Why do they have to stick their wet nose on you? Why do they come up and want to be petted? And so on. It was annoying and it defined her as a character.

Straight From Hel

Jacklyn Cornwell said...

Someone who snots their nose, at least that is what my grandmother called it. It's when someone needs to use a tissue and doesn't. It's exceptionally irritating when I doctors on dictation do it. I want to scream, "GET A KLEENEX!"

My other irritation is people who criticize others for being a know-it-all when they're trying to help and then turning right around and telling everyone how to live their lives, correct their pronunciation and tell people they're wrong when they know nothing about the situation.

June said...

I can't stand people who try to get in the elevator before the people inside can get out!!

I hate that!!!

: )

Author Philip Nork said...

I have two--first those who shop at Costco and forget how to "drive" the carts. Stand to the right, you guys!
Those people who never stop talking on airplanes. I'm busy and use my time to relax or even fall asleep...to be honest with you, I don't care who you are, what you do for a living, or that you hate your job. Just shut up for a while!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What annoys us are people willing to jeopardize the life of another.


Unknown said...

What annoys me?

People who complain, ask for advice, then refuse to do anything to change the situation they complained about ... and want to keep complaining about it interminably.

People who ask for help, and when they realize that this will require them to contribute some actual work toward solving their own problems, they scram.

People who soak up all kinds of advice and time and energy, then when they finally get their life back together, they scram -- without returning anything to the friends who helped them over the rough spot.

lisekimhorton said...

As someone who works in NYC, where the pace if simply mad (and I'm one of those guilty folk dashing to and fro), what makes me insane are people with little electronic devices (iPad, cell phones, Blackberries, etc.). Constantly organizing their tunes, checking messages, texting, emailing - and they hunker over these little gadgets, walking at a snail's pace as I try to get around them to catch my bus or subway or train. Or they stop dead in the middle of the staircase to take care of an urgent email. OR they stop smack in the middle of the sidewalk to make that urgent call to their BFF to meet them for another venti sized cup of something at the nearest wherever. EEEEEK! And I've already got a great idea for a villain who purposely uses his gadgetry to annoy the hero, only to get his comeuppance when the hero snaps and strangles him with his earphones and sticks the iPad where the sun .... OK, I think you get the idea!

Joansz said...

People who use any pretense as a thinly veiled disguise to vent their spleens about something else.

People who steal an idea from a subordinate and claim that they thought of it (I had a boss who did that).

People who ask a direct question and then interrupt the person answering. Charlie Rose does that to his guests, but he's gotten a lot better at listening. Despite that (or maybe because of that), I love his show.

People who get too close to me in face-to-face conversations. I keep backing up, hoping they get the hint, but I often find myself pletched up against a wall or piece of furniture, instead.

This is FUN! ;-)

Mark Prime said...

I'll tell you what annoys me, aside from the title of this post and those that choose to participate, hypocrisy... Everything else isn't worth mentioning.

Joansz said...

Well, I can't tolerate INTOLERANCE!

Morgan Mandel said...

This is really great! Keep the annoying comments coming!

Morgan Mandel

Karyne said...

Any writer who uses the expression, "they cried like a little girl", being the mother of a 4 year old boy, trust me, there's not difference between the ear splitting cries of either gender. I can't stand how some people want to perpetuate the myth that women are the weaker sex.

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Okay, I could go on and on about grammatical errors that should not happen...but instead, I'll focus on something someone mentioned before me.

Having worked for years (more than three decades as a social worker) trying to help people change their lives, the most annoying people were those who continually blamed everyone else for their problems, refusing to accept any responsibility for their own poor choices.

Then...back to nowadays, those people who criticize "destructively." Criticism can be helpful, but some people only want to badmouth others without offering anything helpful at all.

Unknown said...

MORGAN--Just what I needed--a place to rant about the thing that annoys the heck out of me! Cell phone users who walk around in stores, blabbing their stupid heads off about a bunch of nonsense, so that you know if her boyfriend cheated on her and she's going for revenge, or you learn so-and-so has gained weight and who should tell her. Especially annoying--and so rude I don't even now to expolain how much--is once again, the cell phone user at a check out line blabbing while she should be finding her credit card and the checker has to ask for it--she doesn't even look at the checker and begins digging but has to stop and say OMG! Can you believe it!!!!
So...now I feel better. Thanks. Celia

Gladys Hobson said...

I sat on the coach for an eleven hour trip. Then from immediately behind me IT started — a monotonous whistle that was neither a song nor a recognisable piece of music. I stuffed my ears with a tissue but it did not block the aggravating sound. Should I risk turning round and telling this guy to please stop? But would he continue for the sheer hell of it? Likely it was a habit he could not break. His wife appeared deaf to his annoying ways. Then the radio came on. Damn it! That did not stop him. I felt like turning round to tell him to stick a dummy in his mouth! Or maybe I should jam the neck of a pop bottle in it. My hubby is a little deaf and whistling does not bother him anyway. He wanted to turn round and speak on my behalf but I was afraid a slanging match might ensue — or worse!
It is one thing that puts me off going on another trip — trapped by the b***** whistler! And for hours on end —heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp!

Unknown said...

Oh so much material, so little space. :) I agree with most of what has been posted, but I've found as I grow older, I'm become much more impatient and am likely to tell people what I'm feeling. With wrinkles come bravery. *lol*

I'm annoyed by fellow authors who send an email asking for a url that was posted on a shared loop earlier. They could either Google it themselves or go back to the loop and find it. This action displays an attitude that their time is worth more than mine.

I'm also annoyed by people who book a space on my Blog and then don't respond to reminders or bother to submit their post. It's rude. If you can't make it...all you have to do is let me know. After two times, I won't invite you again, especially when you use the same excuse for both times. :)

Natalie W said...

Oh! People at the grocery checkout that wait until their grocery's are all rung up and THEN they dig in their beach bag purse to get their checkbook!! Oh and then they have to find their glasses and pen!!!

Kelley Heckart said...

I can't stand it when people drive slow in the left lane of the highway instead of moving over to let others pass. It drives me crazy even when I'm not in a hurry. I guess I just hate being trapped behind morons with no concept of courtesy.


hotcha12 said...


Editha Wieler-Fullman said...

Iam a vital, diabled person in need of parking in handicap parking places. what annoys me, besides people who spit on sidewalks and or elevators...eeeek. Is, no brainer people who park their empty shopping carts in the, visably marked, disabled parking spots. Making a hardship for us with impaired walking, to clear the area so we can park... Oh, so thoughtless and rude!

Unknown said...

not having time to finish the book that's due back at the library ... FOX News especially evenings ... wondering if I got time/place wrong while I'm waiting for someone

CA Heaven said...

What annoys me is the beeps they put on the swearing in TV, if anyone happen to mention the F-word or something like that. Words are not dangerous, and swearing is good for your mental health (at least for mine)

Cold As Heaven

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I agree with you on that second one!

And what annoys me? People who talk on their cell phones while driving!!!!!!!!!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Or text while driving--scary if you're a passenger. Really dangerous.


Carolyn J. Rose said...

Most annoying? People who deplane and stop dead at the top of the ramp to repack their carry-on case. Where do they think the rest of us are going to go?

KK Brees said...

People on cellphones who speak loudly enough so that everyone within eighty-seven miles has to hear their conversation.

People who drive while yammering into their cell phones.

Basically, idiots on cell phones.

Carol Gordon Ekster said...

What annoys me is when people get together and talk about television shows, like they have nothing of importance to discuss in their own reality.

Morgan Mandel said...

I agree with all those cell phone comments! Also, lots of the other comments made me stop and think about how people can be selfish and uncaring to others.

Morgan Mandel

Maryannwrites said...

People who throw trash out the car window as they drive down the highway really annoy me. Who do they think is going to pick up all that trash.

Margaret Fieland said...

Some of the things that annoy me --

Things that BEEP at me.

Automatic phone answering systems where you can never seem to get to a real person.

Articles in newspapers and magazines with incorrect grammar, especially when they misuse pronouns.

When my computer is very slow or, worse yet, freezes.

Running out of coffee.

Robert W. Walker said...

People who rely on labels and sterotyping rather than take the time to get to know a person...people who buy into the vairous myths created by society to put forth such labels be it feminist or gay or he's black, he's white, he's facists, he's democrat, he's republican, and the legends built up around labeling as in RACE for example...a completely bogus societal notion since we are all of one race -- all human. The race myth along with so many others is just so much bull hockey.

What also annoys me is a person who cannot express himself without using profanity as every other word. And of course the Arizana Nazi movement; next thing you know the Gov there will require armbands for the legals and Jewish Stars for those not legal.

Beth Anderson said...

I know this is late but I just read the invitation to comment. What annoys me most recently is an adult who actually knows better but writes messages and emails and everything else with Twitter shorthand. To me, it just makes them look illiterate.