Around the time that I got into high school, there was a noticeable height disparity between me and my cohorts. The height ratio was such that, well, how can I put this delicately. Where upon someone wouldst cut the cheese walking to class, I would be one of the first to smell it. I would watch as the guilty party would saunter away from the scene of the crime. About 2 minutes later, people everywhere would start plugging their noses. “Ohhhh, who dealt that one?” I would know, but I would never out the guilty party. First of all, they were always long gone by then, and second of all, I wanted to live.
Now that I am all grown up I am finding myself in a somewhat similar situation for very different reasons. There are some things out there that just stink to high heaven, and people don’t really seem to be noticing. Some things stink so badly, in fact, that they make me need to back away for a little while to cleanse my nostrils and get my head back on straight. I think people will notice at some point, but right now, at this point, I have the option of clearing my throat and nodding in the general direction of the stench or remaining silent (but not deadly).
While the chances of me being beaten up on the playground have diminished substantially over the last hem hem years, there are still problems that can arise from being the local stinkometer. I present to the jury the following potential predicaments.
He who smelt it dealt it
In both scenarios, there is a real catch-22 that can best be summarized by this very childish retort. If you call someone out for dropping a stink bomb, they can come back and say, “He who smelt it dealt it.” In the online world, if you call someone out, they can come back and say, “Oh yeah, well I think you’re just calling me out to get attention, so I’m going to call you out!” This conversation really doesn’t get anywhere particularly special and intellectual, and it really doesn’t help in many other ways either.
Kill the messenger
Another problem that can arise when you are working the stinkometer beat is that you can be in that unenviable position of being the bearer of bad/icky news. No one wants to be embarrassed, despite what you might think when you leaf through the tabloids. f people perceive that you’re trying to kick someone who’s already down, they’re not going to attack that person. They’re going to attack you. And that’s a real bummer.
“I don’t smell anything”
Of course, the final obstacle in pointing to something that smells bad is that smell is a rather tricky thing. Where you smell something bad, a person with a stuffed up nose may not smell anything. They might think they are smelling something good, even (Okay, that’s more for the online world part of this analogy, though you never know). If you are trying to explain to a person with a stuffed nose that something really smells bad, it’s just not going to matter to them. It isn’t invading their nostrils or their sense of well-being. They’re wondering why you’re making such a big deal out of something that impacts them not at all.
What do you do when you notice that something kind of stinks? Do you twitch your nose just a little till someone asks you what in the heck you’re doing? Do you yell out, “OH MAN WHAT IS THAT??” Or do you sit back and watch the ripples of the bad smell do what they may?
How do you work as the stinkometer?
Image by Julia Freeman-Woolpert. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/juliaf