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Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa PowerDork
6/27/22 8:35 p.m.

Knew a couple guys in the military that had a bug up their butt about pointing, but I knew a bunch of guys in the military with all kinds of bugs up their butts.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
6/27/22 9:44 p.m.

Just saying that all pointing is rude lacks context.  If you're poking me in the chest with your finger, that's rude.  If you're pointing out some item of interest, or where to go if I'm asking directions, that's not rude.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
6/28/22 7:20 a.m.
aircooled said:

Just curious.  I have been told pointing (in the US at least) is considered rude.  I have never assumed that, but that seems to be why politicians like to the stupid thumb pointy thing.

With regard to this, there was one presidential candidate who really popularized this shift. I think maybe it was John Kerry?

Anyway, he liked to point to emphasize... points.

People did some group testing on this, and found that many people found the pointing towards the camera to feel accusatory and off-putting. Pointing made people feel like he was implying "this problem is *your* fault" which makes people's natural reaction, "well, berkeley you, buddy".

So they trained him to start doing the gesturing with the thumb thing for emphasis instead of pointing, because people perceived that more as assertively emphasizing a point rather than making an accusatory gesture at the viewer.

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
6/28/22 7:31 a.m.

Very much a context thing.

Disney teaches their cast members (what they call employees) in the parks to point directions with two fingers.  Not rude.  Pointing directly at someone...rude, but often warranted, LOL.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
6/28/22 7:37 a.m.
Beer Baron said:

So they trained him to start doing the gesturing with the thumb thing for emphasis instead of pointing, because people perceived that more as assertively emphasizing a point rather than making an accusatory gesture at the viewer.

I've wondered about that, the thumb-pointing thing all politicians do these days just seems silly to me.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
6/28/22 7:52 a.m.
stuart in mn said:
Beer Baron said:

So they trained him to start doing the gesturing with the thumb thing for emphasis instead of pointing, because people perceived that more as assertively emphasizing a point rather than making an accusatory gesture at the viewer.

I've wondered about that, the thumb-pointing thing all politicians do these days just seems silly to me.

Okay... I looked it up. It is popularly known as the "Clinton Thumb" because apparently it was Bill Clinton who widely popularized it as a way of making emphasis that seemed less aggressive or accusatory than a pointed finger or clenched fist. But apparently JFK used it a lot, too.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/28/22 8:14 a.m.

What about finger guns? Are finger guns still okay?

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
6/28/22 8:27 a.m.
stuart in mn said:
Beer Baron said:

So they trained him to start doing the gesturing with the thumb thing for emphasis instead of pointing, because people perceived that more as assertively emphasizing a point rather than making an accusatory gesture at the viewer.

I've wondered about that, the thumb-pointing thing all politicians do these days just seems silly to me.

True.  If only the silly things they do ended with the thumb-pointing....

Duke
Duke MegaDork
6/28/22 8:55 a.m.
NickD said:

What about finger guns? Are finger guns still okay?

Third post.  yes

 

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
6/28/22 10:12 a.m.

The wife spent 18 months on a Navajo reservation. They point with their lips. Its something I do now especially when my hands are full.

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) MegaDork
6/28/22 11:23 a.m.

In reply to bobzilla :

Where are my car keys?

*kissy face*

 

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
6/28/22 12:57 p.m.

So.  It seems to me, based on this conversation, that pointing a finger at someone is really not offensive.  It can be in context, but pretty much anything can.  It would seem that rather than teaching children that pointing is offensive it would be better to say that referring to other people in almost anyway in a negative context can be offensive....

 

Person:  "Which one of these guys is the a-hole Bob?"

Bobzilla (arms full):  [Kissy face]

Person: "Uhm, what?"

Bobzilla : [Kissy face]

Person: "Do you need some Chapstick?"

Bobzilla : [Kissy face]

Person: "Yeah, I am going to walk away now"

MiniDave
MiniDave New Reader
6/28/22 1:50 p.m.

what a strange thing to ask about......

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/28/22 4:05 p.m.
aircooled said:

So.  It seems to me, based on this conversation, that pointing a finger at someone is really not offensive.  It can be in context, but pretty much anything can.  It would seem that rather than teaching children that pointing is offensive it would be better to say that referring to other people in almost anyway in a negative context can be offensive....

The thing that was impressed upon me is that a stranger in the public space might not know the context or intention and jump to negative conclusions, so it's better not to point at all. 

If something was happening behind you and a bunch of strangers pointed in your direction and laughed because they found it funny, you could assume they were pointing and laughing /at/ you. Their intention wasn't rude,  negative or even directed at you, but the effect to you was the same regardless. If you were having a bad day, you might not take it particularly well and might even confront them about it. That's why it's better to avoid pointing.

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
6/28/22 5:51 p.m.

Point taken, but you could say the same thing about a group of people looking in your direction, but looking a someone is not considered rude by itself.

At worst I would say pointing is an amplification "referring to" or "indicating towards".  Again, amplifying either good or bad, all depends on context / intent, and again it's the context / intent that is critical.

Kind of like staring versus looking, though I (personally) would say staring ruder than pointing.

 

As to "why is this even a discussion"?  Well, when there is something I see that does not make sense (to me obviously) and most people don't know why it is, I still like to know why, and if there really is any justification for it.

Advan046
Advan046 UberDork
6/29/22 11:47 p.m.

In reply to aircooled :

Hey, nice question. Point at someone, anyone, was never a concern for me until I was in my 30s. It was around then that people started telling me it was rude and made the "pointed at" uncomfortable. 

I have had people point at me, usually I don't mind. But in one case I felt some increased anxiety as the person pointing at me had an angry face. It was because they thought I was someone else is all. 

Interesting that no one provided a cultural cornerstone upon which "pointing at someone is bad" is based. It is just a thing. Curious.

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