Sunday, April 18, 2010

Is there anything worse than those holier-than-thou assholes?

Assholes are everywhere. There are assholes in your family, in your fantasy football league, and living in the apartment above you (and not just because you keep yelling, "Stop jumping around, asshole!" every night before bed). Assholes have the system beat. Good for them. They've mastered the art of doing little work, having fun, and getting laid even though the general consensus is that they are total jerks.
So what can you learn from the everyday asshole? Plenty. In the book Assholeology: The Science Behind Getting Your Way - and Getting Away with It, the authors explain why it pays to be an asshole. In this article, we'll point out the 7 typical assholes you come across in the average day and what you can learn from their example.
1) The Informed Asshole
A copy of the Wall Street Journal tucked under his arm and every major news and pop culture website headline sent to his phone, this asshole knows something about everything. He listens to talk radio, sports radio, pirate radio and can discuss any topic. Of course he has read the new Maxim, don't be stupid.
His agenda: To be on top of all news and stay one step ahead of everyone. Think about how dumb you feel when discussing what you think is "breaking news" only to have him retort "that happened about three hours ago."
What makes him an asshole: The ability to talk intelligently on any topic and often steer the conversation in whatever direction he chooses mostly because he knows more than anyone else. Where do people claim to hear about most news? From some asshole.
What you can learn: The ability to know a little something about everything and to be the main source of information. This keeps your name on everyone's mind.
2) The Neighborhood Asshole
Leave for work in the morning and she's outside walking the dog, pruning the hedges or just watching every move her neighbors make. Come home at night and she's still outside. She has a job. It's watchdog.
Her agenda: She wants to know everyone's business. This is her turf. She has been here long before you started squatting in this hood.
What makes her an asshole: Everyone likes her (or pretends to just to be on her good side). Therefore no one would dare talk crap behind her back - let alone say something to her face.
What you can learn: Get out there. Be seen. As an asshole, you want to build a rapport with everyone you encounter on a daily basis; especially with the people that surround your habitat. It wouldn't kill you to clean up your yard a little bit either.
3) The Volunteer Asshole
Sign-up sheets, petitions, pledge papers, pamphlets - he carried them all neat and organized in a clip-board as he works an angle with everyone he knows to get them signed up, donating, and volunteering.
His agenda: Assholes must be selfish. However, they need to balance out the selfishness by being selfless at times. So while his volunteering may be a little self-serving, the Volunteer Asshole is also truly giving back.
What makes him an asshole: His volunteering usually involves making others give back. It involves several weeks' worth of Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, Linked-In and text messaged pleas for donations.
What you can learn: Never take no for an answer. Ever. One "no" should just lead to another way of trying to get a person to say "yes". If you want something bad enough, ignore the no answers because it makes the yes all the more satisfying.
4) The Hipster Asshole
This asshole generally listens to indie rock (until it gets picked up by mainstreams), hangs out in coffee shops, shops at the stores where your dad donated all his old duds and enjoys discussing books you've never read, films that will never make a dime and art you could care less about. Looks like he needs a hot bath and sandwich at all times.
His agenda: Incredibly aware at how to appear unaware. Skating through life accomplishing very little but spending a hell of a lot of time lauding people who have accomplished something (typically bands, writers and artists.)
What makes him an asshole: Pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth.
What you can learn: Give the hipster credit; he is usually one step ahead when it comes to the next big thing. Try and stay ahead of the game in fashion, music and all the finer arts. It wouldn't kill you to read a few new magazines or websites to stay up on trends.
5) The Gym Asshole
All talky and not much lifty, this asshole spends most of his workout chatting up available and unavailable women, giving workout tips to uninterested guys and exercising his lips more than his lats.
His agenda: Fitness is second. First comes networking, bragging, flirting and acting as the goodwill ambassador to the cardio room. He likes to be anyplace where everyone knows his name.
What makes him an asshole: Aside from the fact he is usually taking way too much time on the equipment you want to use, he finds a way to get connected to everyone who has a membership.
What you can learn: The power of networking. The gym is a fantastic place to meet influential and powerful people from different walks of life. Chat up the guy next to you in spin class or the woman stretching beside you on the gym floor. Just know when to end the conversation.
6) The Office Asshole
Probably the biggest collection of asshole per square cubicle, the office asshole comes in all shapes, sizes and ranking. The asshole boss, his asshole assistant and the dude on the sales staff who would throw in his own child to seal a deal.
His agenda: Money and power just like the rest of us. Success is another obvious motivator but being the big fish in the little swimming pool called the office is an added bonus. If he isn't already in charge, that is his eventual goal.
What makes him an asshole: The asshole is always a part of every important project at work. This doesn't happen by accident; it takes some maneuvering and manipulating. His head is never on the chopping block and it seems like he is always in the bosses' good graces.
What you can learn: Always remember someone else would be willing to screw you to get what they want at work. If you don't step on some people, you're likely to get stepped on by someone else. It's nothing personal, just business.
7) The Social Media Asshole
The explosion of community interaction on the web, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn allowed for the rise and dominance of the social media expert.
His agenda: What is a social media expert? No clue. Early studies conclude it's just some schmuck with nothing better to do but jump on board of every social networking tool available and pass himself off as an authority on the topic.
What makes him an asshole: Only a true asshole can make something out of nothing. These gurus have built themselves up into brands just by giving their opinion. For some reason people value those opinions. People listen to a complete stranger's advice and opinion more than their own family and friends. Scary.
What you can learn: It's all about you. Your life, your job and your happiness are the most important thing in every situation. If something isn't working to your advantage, flip the script and make it work for you. Always give an opinion. Take a stand. Show some balls.