Nerds and “Tact Filters”

(this via 43 Folders)

I found this post about something called a “tact filter” on Merlin Mann’s website. The gist: “normal” people filter what they say before they say it; and “nerds” filter what they hear.

All people have a “tact filter”, which applies tact in one direction to everything that passes through it. Most “normal people” have the tact filter positioned to apply tact in the outgoing direction….

“Nerds,” on the other hand, have their tact filter positioned to apply tact in the incoming direction. Thus, whatever anyone says to them gets the appropriate amount of tact added when they hear it. This is because when nerds were growing up, they continually got picked on, and their parents continually drilled into their heads statements like, “They’re just saying those mean things because they’re jealous. They don’t really mean it…”

As a socially awkward geek and as the teacher of my fair share of geeks, I am all to familiar with the lack of tact. I love the imagery because the so-called normal people often assume geeks are totally tactless.

The author, Jeff Bigler, goes on to explain that folks need to understand that people may not have their tact filters installed the same way. Bigler says, “Both types of people need to be extra patient when dealing with someone whose tact filter is backwards relative to their own.”

Wow. That’s a great lesson for kids to understand.

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