Childhood   Adolescence   Antique   Reclaimed

Adult Insults

Adulthood brings personal freedom, responsibility, and a keener, more subtle edge to insults. Such is the level of sophistication that many insults don’t even have to be spoken to be conveyed. A simple turned back, a dismissive snort, even a perfectly timed rolled eye can all translate into an insult. While the developmental process of nonverbal insulting starts to manifest at an earlier age, adulthood allows one to perfect the technique, and not end up dismissively snorting too loudly, for example, or in the company of one’s employer.

In fact, most insults at this level are usually very personal and based on one’s success level within a particular social group. Work-based insults often become the focus of one’s adult insult methodology. If you are involved in architecture, for example, to say that someone “doesn’t know the difference between an escalator and an elevator” is shame-inducing stuff. To anyone outside the profession, this would just sound like a critique. Food industry professionals insult chefs who handle other chefs knives as having unnatural sexual desires. To be called “DJ Doctor Robot” in a radio setting is akin to being excommunicated, and so on.

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So what is a general marker, above and beyond one’s professional affiliation, for adulthood insults? Those who exhibit strangled laughter, poor driving skills, questionable eating habits and a tendency to talk obsessively about the habits of their pet animals in lieu of actual human relationships are considered to be personal failures, and as such will be drubbed, both in front of and behind their back, with unkind observations.

Of course, one’s interpersonal skill level is a ripe target for insults. Knowledge about geography, wine drinking customs, tax laws, unfashionable hotels and things to say in an intimate setting are all subject to being insulted. The best thing to do if you are ill-equipped to deal with other adults is to keep your mouth shut and your eyes fixed straight ahead, at which point you will be branded an “isolationist nutcase,” a “hermit,” a “terrorist,” a “serial killer” or any of a number of socially isolated and threatening figures.