I'm An Asshole And 9 More Reasons To Unsubscribe

Maybe you've just started reading this blog recently — maybe even after you followed a link from your friend yesterday to a crazy post telling you to give up your flashcards! Or, maybe you've been reading for a while, or even since the very first post.

But unless you're one of the fifty (I'm guessing) readers here who actually know me in real life, there is probably a lot about me you don't know. (In fact, even if you do know me, there may be a lot you don't know!)

First, you should all know that I am an asshole. And I don't mean that in the "oh he's cocky-funny" way, I mean it in they "I don't see why she stays with him" kind of way. Seriously. I'm a jerk. I have strong opinions, I don't back down in defending myself, and I'm not afraid of anyone or anything.

But the same thing that makes me a jerk is also the thing that makes me one of the best friends you could ever want to have. If you ask me a question you will always get the honest truth from me, if I think you're wrong I'll tell you, but if I think you're right I'll fight to the teeth to defend you.

And yes, in spite of being a proud, stubborn asshole, I do have friends. Those who appreciate honesty and directness are usually glad to know me. It's only those who are lying to themselves that don't like me — those who are pretending to be something they're not, and looking for others to help them perpetuate that self-delusion.

Frankly I don't want those people anyway. And if you are one of those people, you should probably unsubscribe from my blog. Seriously! Because I am never going to help you pretend to be what you're not.

In fact, if that's not enough, I will give you a few more reasons to unsubscribe:

1. I don't believe in freedom of speech. That's right. I do not believe that humans have a universal right to say whatever they want. When people have the license to say whatever they want, they use that license to do and say terrible, destructive things.

I believe it is the responsibility of a community or society to enforce certain guidelines, principles, and expectations, and that naturally, those can change and evolve over time as that society or community grows and changes.

2. I believe that nothing is sacred. There is no belief, no opinion, no point of view that is off-limits. Everything must be questioned. Whether it's your belief in a particular tool for language learning, or your political point of view, or even your religion, you owe it to yourself to test it and question it. We all do. There is nothing in life that gets an exception to this.

3. Stereotypes are often true, and sometimes even funny, but I hate discrimination. There really are a lot of Russians who drink too much vodka, and Italians really do talk with their hands. Stereotypes don't just get invented for no reason, and we should all be allowed to laugh at them.

However, after the joke is over, remember that that is who they are. Other people may look strange, or talk strange, do strange things or eat strange food, but black, Jewish, gay, or whatever else they may be, you can not change who someone is. And when you discriminate, it only reveals how weak you are.

4. Positivity really does work. Most of those Power of Positivity people are utterly annoying, and many are even fake. But that doesn't diminish the truth of what they are saying. You will get farther in life with optimism and confidence that you would with almost anything else. You don't have to join a cult for it to work. All you have to do is believe in yourself.

5. Insults only feed my ego. The saying in Hollywood is, "there's no such thing as bad press." When you insult me, you think you're getting under my skin, but you're only making me stronger. Every moment you spend telling people that I'm arrogant, mean, or rude is a moment that you've chosen to spend talking about me.

When I walk away from my computer, my mind is already on something else. When I lay my head down at night, I instantly sleep like a baby. I never lose a single moment's sleep worrying about anyone else's opinion. And the thought of others losing sleep over my opinion only excites me.

6. People are inherently good. I believe that by default, people are good. Regardless of what seemingly confusing or destructive things they may do or say, I believe that most people have good intentions from moment to moment.

When someone insults me, I don't judge that person — even if I am, perhaps, disappointed in how they handled one moment of their life. And maybe it's naive, but I like to assume that people give me the same credit that I give them.

7. This site isn't for bloggers. I really appreciate that so many other language bloggers have taken an interest in my blog, and that they participate and comment, and that we can have discussions (which are usually civil). I'm honored, that's really cool, and it makes me happy. I hope it continues.

But I'm not here for them. I'm here for the people who are trying to learn. First and foremost, my audience is people actively learning a new language, and those are the readers I will work to keep. My content will not be dictated by other bloggers who disagree, and I will not fret if those other bloggers stop coming here.

8. I'm an arrogant, egotistical, know-it-all. But Randy, you already said you were an asshole. This is just redundant! No. It's not redundant. There is an important difference. Do I know everything? No. Am I any smarter than anyone else? No. Do I write as if I am? Fuck yeah I do. And I'm not going to stop.

Very few people would find any real value in a blog about learning if the author was timid and spent all his time questioning himself and apologizing for his position. Part of the reason people find value in what I say is due to the fact that I say it in an authoritative manner.

9. I care about people. The overwhelming majority of what I write here is for other people. I write advice, ideas, and information, not stories. Unlike a lot of other bloggers, I'm not here writing all the time about myself. I'm not trying to impress anyone with my travels, or my language skills. I'm not posting boring videos of me talking, or egotistical "look at me!" photos.

You may not always agree with what I say, but it should always be clear that I was saying it for you... not for me. This blog began because it was the most efficient way for me to answer the same questions from several people, and to preserve those answers so they could be useful to more people in the future. It has never been a popularity contest, and I honestly don't care if anyone likes me. I only care about whether or not I am helping people. And the moment I feel that I can no longer do that, I will stop writing here. (But don't worry, I'm far from done.)

That's me, and that's what you can expect. If you don't like that, do yourself (and everyone else) a favor, and unsubscribe, because that's not going to change.

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Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

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Comment Policy: Comments and feedback are totes welcome but respect is mandatory. Disagree all you want but be nice. All comments and links are moderated.
  • Respect for your honesty, but do you think that 1. and 2. are compatible?

  • Absolutely. More than compatible, I think they're necessary checks and balances against each other.

  • I'm not trying to be offensive here but the "I'm an asshole/ flashcards debate" has gone on a bit too long. I think quite a few of us would really appreciate if you moved on now and gave us advice about learning, not about unsubscribing.

  • If you don't like what I write, James, unsubscribe.

  • Actually, I feel like I learned a bit more about Randy from this post, and I like that. I don't think this post was at all a waste of time and pixels.

  • No, that's not what I mean. You said yourself that you set up this blog to help people learn. Writing posts like these are not helping me and nor do I think they are helping others. I respect what you do but your are no longer carrying out your primary aim. I am no longer finding value in your posts. @sara: That's fine. This is just my point of view. But I haven't learnt about languages, which I want to do and is why I found this blog.

  • No, James, what you're doing is a)posturing, and b)attempting to set the content of my blog.

  • Fine! I'll stop reading this blog. You've helped me with a lot but now you are just making claims. I'm not doing either of those things but if that's what you think I'm doing, then I'll stop. You said it yourself that you don't want to know those types of people. All I was doing was trying to make a recommendation. Also, the proof that not many people are finding this useful is the number of reactions. They seemed to have dropped significantly. People were right: you are a bigot.

  • Hello . . . I stumbled onto your blog via other blog (I think; I can't remember) since I'm trying to learn Italian. I was really surprised at how so much helpful hints you have given to people like us. I remember how I learned Spanish in junior high and high school, and I have to say that was one of my favorite classes.However, I do think that I learned Spanish the wrong way, such that my fluency level is very much affected. I can read Spanish, but ask me to hold my own in a conversation and I won't be able to get beyond the introduction stage on my own. I think part of the problem is that I would be constantly trying to translate from Spanish to English and vice versa, especially when working on written homework. Too much reliance on the dictionary, so to speak (trying not to reignite the recent debate from this week, so phrasing it in another way).I've been going through the past posts which have been very insightful and given me some ideas as to how I can relearn Italian (took intensive Italian in college because this was the only way I could get out of fulfilling the requirements without much reliance on audio work - I'm deaf, and it's very hard for me to make much use of audio stuff without having access to the written version) in such a way that I can become fluent enough so that when I go to Italy (have a friend who lives there and has his own tour company in Rome), I can hold my own in a conversation (fortunately, Italian is pretty easy to lipread). Yes, I do intend to learn to speak Italian; had oral classes in my pre-collegiate education and my speech is pretty good (albeit with an accent) and hope to have an opportunity to learn Italian Sign Language.

  • I should clarify that at the time (back in high school), I wasn't too aware that languages have their own style that makes it hard to translate word-for-word and still makes sense. I think my teacher didn't stress that point hard enough. That would have prevented my prior language learning issues, I believe.

  • Rock on Randy. Ignore the noise.

  • "I believe it is the responsibility of a community or society to enforce certain guidelines, principles, and expectations" This approach basically means, that you would ban anything, that majority (mass of uninformed opinions) doesn't approve of for some reason or another. It also means, that you would need to break the law to say things that are correct, but "society" doesn't think so. In a christian society, you would probably have evolution theory bans, elsewhere it would be illegal to criticize governemnt (justified by the theory that government = people) etc. That also means, that police would need to waste resources on people saying things instead of on thiefs, murderers, rapists etc. One of the things I admire most on the United States is their first amendment, even though I disagree with many of their other (leftist) policies. What is right is only letting organizations/blogs etc. to set their own standards of speech but never letting do so government.

  • Perhaps in your view that appears to be true, but that is not what I said and it's certainly not what I believe.And if you want to discuss civics with me, please by kind enough to do it in a more appropriate format, such as email or Skype.

  • That's really interesting that you mention that, because I was just thinking yesterday, musing over the idea of lip-reading Italian. It did seem to me that it wouldn't be difficult... maybe even easier than English.

  • I stumbled onto your blog about three days ago. I found it exciting and admirable to read about someone whose goal was to learn a language every year.
    I recently decided to learn a new language. I've never tried. I've never actually applied myself to learning a whole new language,just words here and there. I am fluent in both English and Spanish. But I don't actually feel that I am fluent in any of them.. I mean, my native tongue is Spanish but because I was born in East LA I learned Spanglish on the streets and somewhat of English through school. My Spanish is very formal and structured.. since I learned it at home (I've only been to Mexico for a total of three weeks my entire life! Everyone says I don't have an accent over there,but that at the same time I do, whatever the hell that means.) Anyways, I want to learn a language to let myself know that I can learn something from scratch, and to have something that's in me that is lifelong, and that took time and dedication to acquire. Learning a new language will make me a better individual. Learning a new language, I think, can also improve my Spanish and English since it will probably require that I understand the latter two even more (Or at least make me think of how they function different from each other). Since I really enjoyed reading Balzac's Old Goriot.. I decided to learn French. Which,I think, given my background in Spanish should not be as difficult as learning Mandarin or Russian.Regardless,I just want to thank you for questioning traditional methods of language learning. Before stumbling upon your blog I thought that flash-cards was the golden standard for learning a new tongue. It seemed obvious that it was the main method to learn a new language to me. And it seems that you may be right that flashcards aren't the best way.I am taking an online Open Learning Initiative course hosted and created by Carnegie Mellon where they have volunteers take part in their research. They are trying to figure out how the human brain can learn and adapt to a language the quickest. And there is no flashcard method in their course. It is all videos,audio,and grammar. And it's interactive,with actors from France.Anyways,I can see why freedom of speech should be limited on the Internets. A lot of people get out of hand on forums and such. And I do like that you are honest,regardless of the circumstance.
    Thanks a lot for this site.. Learning that you were able to learn Russian in one year makes me believe that maybe I can learn French in a year as well. Hopefully I can with your blogs help. Saludos de Los Angeles!

  • Since you appreciate honesty and directness, let me say this: The "I'm an asshole" boast is like the white guy version of "I keep it real!" It just means you are way too full of yourself.This whole post is just you trying to convince yourself what an intellectually superior person you are. Then you mask this masturbatory drivel with the "asshole" defense in an attempt to remove all responsibility in case someone finds this objectionable.Signed, First Time Visitor Who's Never Coming Back

  • I gotta go with Friedemann on this one. One and two aren't really compatible. You can't question everything if you don't also have the license to say anything you want.What if the next dictator was a strong proponent of flash carding, erased the first amendment and your posts against flash carding?Unless what you mean as a community enforcing certain guidelines and those guidelines being slander, libel ect. Then we agree I suppose... but legally that's still considered free speech, at least in this country.

  • No, baby, please come back! All those others didn't mean a thing, baby... You're the only one I want! I promise I can change. Please baby, just one more chance?

  • Thanks! It's comments like these that make everything else worth the trouble. Good luck with French!

  • "you can't question everything if you don't have the license to say anything you want."
    That is not anywhere close to being true. Let's make an example...
    My instinct is to call you ignorant. My gut reaction is to tell you your interpretation is ignorant and small-minded. My reflex is to mock and belittle your opinion.
    All of those responses would fit under the umbrella of protected free speech. But none of them would be effective means of actually questioning your opinion. It's nothing but mean.
    Instead, I could choose to simply ask "who said anything about a dictator?" I could ask "why are dictatorship and anarchy the only two possibilities you are willing to recognize?" I could ask "why is it okay to make an exception to your all-or-nothing worldview in the case of slander and libel?" or "who gets to define what is slander and what is not?"
    And in this case, I will not have sacrificed any ability to question everything, even though I did it without a license to say whatever I wanted.

  • Obviously a blogger's decision to censor comments on his/her own blog is no threat to freedom of speech in any given country, but since I live in China I really have a different perspective on this. A country that is controlling people's opinions is ultimately stifling creativeness, I believe.I always enjoy lively (yet civic) debates of contrasting thoughts and ideas. I learn more from these than when debaters agree about everything. I know that Benny for instance has a more authoritarian style of running his blog and maybe that's why I find the exchanges there somewhat shallow.One favourite slogan of the Chinese propaganda machine is "the harmonious society" but what it really means is "shut up and obey". Me, I'd choose the debate every time over this type of harmony.

  • But you aren't questioning the motives behind mentioning the dictator, are you? This just shows that you've chosen to ignore facts to make you appear big. You really can't stand people disagreeing with you, can you? You say that you can don't worry about anything when you step away from the computer, so why make two posts, one saying that you are extremely sorry and the other trying to make you look tough? You are weak.And this censoring business... well, we are in 2010, not '84, so what is the need?

  • Walk away man. His frame is too strong. This is not an argument you can win.

  • You're silly. ^^

  • You're an ass. =D Yay! Your ego just went up 10 points! Level up! Now your a dumbass.In all honesty, think about why you're writing in this blog. You're not here to piss people off. If you are, then perhaps you should change the title. But, if you're truly here to give your two cents about language acquisition, then perhaps you should be a little nicer to people and respectfully disagree with their comments. RESPECTFULLY. Because honestly, it isn't about you. You've learned your languages, you're good. You've have what you wanted. But now, you're trying to help other people, so don't turn them away with selfishness. Yes, rudeness is a form of selfishness. If being nice isn't your thing, then neither is this kind of blog meant for teaching others. That's just my two cents. This is my last time here, so I hope you take in at least a bit of what I'm saying.
    PS: I don't know if we've had the same history background, but more cases than not, the LACK of freedom of speech is what caused atrocities. If you don't believe me, check out what happened to minority races, religious groups, cultural groups who tried to speak out in a world where freedom of speech had no place. Besides, I don't know if you know the true boundaries of "freedom of speech". The general rule is, you have freedom of speech until you impede on someone else's freedoms. I don't know what you think, but atrocities definitely invade one's freedoms. Before you bash my idea, ask a lawyer or a judge, or anyone in the field of justice.

  • I don't need to ask any lawyer or judge, because we're not talking about the laws of the United States of America, or of any other country in the world. We're talking about MY rules, for MY blog. And no one else has the luxury of dictating those to me.I find it condemnably hypocritical for you to go to the work of telling me how I should run my blog and then follow that by telling me that you're not coming back... and I find it equally ironic that you have the audacity to call me egotistical and then follow that by presuming to speak for everyone when you try to tell me what I should write about and how I should run this blog for others.Frankly, I'm happy to see you go. In fact, nothing gives me as much pleasure as seeing people take my advice, and since my advice here was that you should unsubscribe, that that this is "your last time here" would only make me happier if you had gone away without wasting your time writing this drivel before your departure.Nice try though. If you're going to try to argue with an asshole, immediately after he proudly admitted to the world that he's an asshole, at least you did it with style.

  • Thanks! :)

  • Thanks, Andrew

  • I don't think I really remember saying anything about anarchy or that I only recognize anarchy and dictatorship. Seems like a strawman arugument to me, but not one I care to expound upon, you can if you'd like. Also your "assholeness" doesn't bother me, it's become common and understandable for bloggers to ask people to unsubscribe and post titles like this one.You can continue to be an asshole to me or anyone else, what will make me stop reading isn't the attitude, I would however like you to expand on your thoughts here. I know I'm well read and educated, Friedemann is more educated that God, yet there seems to be some misunderstanding. Now you can do this in your new "asshole voice" I don't mind, or in your straight forward voice I've become used in the last few months.Mocking and belittling opinions by the way isn't a bad thing, I do it all the time with creationists... but I would like you to make sense, even in your asshole voice...

  • It's interesting that you spend that much time and effort writing a response that didn't address any of my questions, except for the one that you characterize as a strawman.There's really no point to a discussion if nothing gets discussed. If you just want a platform from which to write one-sided opinions, I suggest you start a blog. As you can see, it's working well for me. :)

  • Yeah it does seem as if we're just going in a circle here, you say something that doesn't respond really to my statement, I try to get a clearer response because your response built a strawman to my argument that didn't make much sense, then you say I didn't respond to your questions (which is true, because they had nothing to do with what me or Friedemann were saying, so you got me there).(eg the fact that I said that libel and slander being illegal in this country still qualifies as free speech in this country and you're response that somehow I had an all or nothing worldview,some might say you do though. The comments on libel and slander were only references to what is still considered free speech in this country, which I’m sure you’re more than aware of, how that involves an all or nothing world view is beyond me. We do agree that someone has to decide what "slander" is but I didn't expound on anything like that, although you're response "who decides what makes it slander?" seems to think I did and it still has nothing to do with the argument. Also the part where you said: "why are dictatorship and anarchy the only two possibilities you are willing to recognize?" Things I can't even find implied in my message, I didn't even mention anarchy.)Alas, I guess those of us who were interested in a healthy conversation of how these two statements do not contradict or at the very least how they relate or could be explained in clearer contexts:-I don’t believe in freedom of speech. That’s right. I do not believe that humans have a universal right to say whatever they want.
    - I believe that nothing is sacred. There is no belief, no opinion, no point of view that is off-limits. Everything must be questioned... There is nothing in life that gets an exception to this....will have to live with the topic not being discussed. As you say "There's really no point to a discussion if nothing gets discussed." It's true, and if I can be allowed to return to playground for a brief moment: "You weren't discussing FIRST!! So now I don't want to play any more either."Thank you though for your other posts and those interesting discussions, and also the one’s on Benny’s site. Hmmm it seems Benny didn’t comment on this thread at all, he’s been a pretty consistent commenter lately here, I wonder what made decide not to comment this time…

  • I do have a blog, I have five in fact, I just don't update them as much I should, and they're no where as pretty and well designed as yours... lol

  • I'm not unsubscribing because you're an asshole. I'm unsubcribing because you're a moron. Adiós.

  • Sorry Chris, you don't get to choose what get's discussed here.I made the two statements in question. I've seen one person (Friedemann) ask a question about them, and since then, I've seen nothing but argument. I have yet to see any such thing as you asking for further explanation. All I've seen from you is accusations of dictatorship, more or less.As I said, if you want to set the topic, start your own blog. This one is mine.And there's really no need to drag Benny into it. Comments like that one make me wonder what your goal is with this line of commenting.

  • Either way, you're still doing it, so it's a win-win. Thanks, and goodbye!

  • I'll just say that I appreciate your blog. No matter what, people are bound to disagree, even vehemently, with you, and you don't need to apologize or say "so what, I'm an asshole". Just keep up the good work! :)

  • Thanks for that Anna. To be clear, I make no apologies for who I am, how I write, or how I choose to run this blog. My only apology is for allowing the distaction of others to detract from the quality of what I'm doing here.And as for being an asshole... I'm proud of that, and I'll never change. :)Thank you for the compliments.

  • How does
    "I have strong opinions, I don’t back down in defending myself... you will always get the honest truth from me, if I think you’re wrong I’ll tell you"go with
    "I don’t believe in freedom of speech"

  • Well, for one example, freedom of speech allows people to call each other kike, wetback, nigger, faggot, and dozens of other fun names which I do not support and in which I do not believe. Need I go on?

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