Saying it to your face

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Speaking as you find and telling it like it is is likely to get you punched. So deal with it.

As another series of Celebrity Big Brother makes its barely-detectable presence felt on that percentage of TV screens whose owners would ever bother to press ‘5’, this is a good time to reflect on exactly what the social advantages of ‘saying it to your face’ might be.

In the realm of reality TV, contestants regularly cite – as evidence of their honesty and no-nonsense attitude – an approach to life in which the next confrontational conversation is rarely further away than the next mealtime.

On telly, as in social media and life in general, “I say it you your face, me” is the ill thought-through mantra of the emotionally illiterate who can’t, or won’t, display any empathy for their fellow human, who won’t rein in their awful opinions to save someone’s blushes, or who aren’t prepared to operate within the established perimeters of good manners as a means of oiling the wheels of social cohesion.

“So deal with it” is another graceless addition to the canon, placing the responsibility for handling someone’s ill-mannered rudeness onto the person who is being spoken to.

There you go, it’s your problem.

In common perception, ‘Saying it to your face’ is far preferable than a really good two-faced bitch behind someone’s back. Although that perception is clearly wrong. It’s a form of honesty, but a particularly mendacious one.

There’s absolutely nothing better than discussing someone’s extensive failings behind their back, and nothing worse than the knowledge that they’ve sat there and listened to it (other than that sinking feeling you get when you’ve just hit ‘send’ and realise you’ve accidentally texted your scarcely-edited views to them). It turns out that saying it to someone’s face is, rightly, socially awkward.

Deception and bitchiness is far preferable than cards-on-the-table, in-your-face confrontation. The former is what makes the world go round; the latter is how wars start.

People who claim that they say it how it is rarely do so. They normally say something quite rude, with whatever it is they’re saying adhering only to the most limited definition of how things are. Namely, whatever comes into their little heads in an angry moment.

‘Speaking as I find, me’ is an aggressive act, inviting confrontation and generally lacking any tact or diplomacy. It expects everyone to put up with your stupid opinions because you don’t care what they think. That’s because you are right, about everything. Always.

You speak as you find.
You say it to their face.
They know where they stand with you.
You just deal with it and move on.
You missed the lesson on social skills.

So deal with it.

On “National Television”

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The single biggest faux pas you can make is to say something awful. On ‘National Television’.

No matter how extensive the indignities suffered by Big Brother contestants, their every indiscretion broadcast to the nation around the clock, the one thing that unites them is that, at some point in the series, one of them will have a dazzling moment of clarity and express a view that they can’t believe they just did that thing they just did. On. National. Television.

The last time I checked, pretty much all television is broadly national, other than for the dreary 30 minute slots the BBC is forced to devote to coverage of pot holes and bus routes, that masquerades as local news under the terms of its charter.

Yet National Television is the official standard for broadcast situations in which you shouldn’t do things.

I’d probably be more embarrassed appearing on a Look North vox pop proffering my ill-informed views about whatever flimsy subject they’ve wheeled out a camera for – usually over-taxed pasties or Should That Car Park Be Demolished? – than I would making an utterly drunken arse-flashing mess of myself on Channel 4. At least one way lies entry-level notoriety.

A more pressing point, in the case of most of the people who put themselves forward for the nation’s major industry of talent show attendance and general twattery, is why they’re on television of any kind.

Given the diversification of TV audiences amongst all those channels that bored people watch on Sky, it’s probably more of a surprise that more people aren’t ashamed of having destroyed themselves “on National Twitter”.