Why would you do that?

A common phenomenon that I have noticed over the past few years is people seeing someone else doing something strange, something a little abnormal or simply doing something a sub-optimal way, and upon seeing this asking their friends “Why would you do that?” or some similarly judgemental question. And it is always asked with such a condescending tone – there is no doubt that the question is not really a question, but an attempt to point out the ‘failing’ they see in the person in question. What they are really saying is “That is such a stupid thing to do/stupid way to do that, I would do it better than that”

It is interesting that I hear people ‘asking’ this question all the time, yet I never see any indication that the person ‘asking’ the question has ever bothered trying to ‘answer’ the question they have (not really) ‘asked’.

I don’t mean to make myself sound like I am above this phrase – I am sure I have said it myself many times. What I am interested in now though, is qualifying the statement by following it up with a genuine thought process. I want to think “Why would you do that?” then follow that with a genuine introspective questioning process: “No really, what reasons would a person have for doing that? Maybe they can’t do it the better way? Maybe there is more going on here than I can see, maybe they have some sort of disability, maybe they are actually smarter than myself and it is myself that doesn’t understand” etc.

I can’t really expect the population at large to pick up this method of introspective consideration, but I think it is more valuable to attempt to understand ‘why they would do that’, than it is to simply ask an empty rhetorical question designed to indicate how bad/stupid/uncoordinated/social inept someone else is.

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