Common Sense, being offensive and product recommendations:

Sure, on a national level we can point at hundreds of people on different entertainment platforms that are offensive to us. Here is the thing:

1) Are they smart enough to NOT be offensive?

2) Are they smart enough to know how to make their point in a non offensive way?

3) Are they smart enough to know they are being offensive?

The last one intrigues me the most. There are going to be times when people make mistakes and choose  words poorly. But, to speak or express something without knowing if you’re being offensive seems to interest me the most. The intent simply isn’t there or is it? That’s the secret. That’s the magic trick.

Sure there are Rush Limbaugh’s and Geraldo Rivera’s. But, I think being offensive in their industry is their way of competing. There were two separate engagements where I felt offended, but quickly forgave the whole experience because they had no idea they were being offensive to begin with or weren’t smart enough to pick up on it.  I am sure you have shared a similar experience. To me, this is beauty. A work of Art. It can’t be duplicated or re-enacted very easily. This might be why the  Borat and Bruno characters were so successful.

Putting Two and Two together….

Anyways…I was in a Chinese restaurant for lunch. I was working for a mortgage lender at the time and I had black dress pants and white shirt on. I was dressed very similar to the waiters that worked there. I was hungry and helped myself to two plates full of food at the buffet bar. I figure, why not serve myself twice as much. I can save myself the trip back to the bar because the place was getting busy.

The buffet bar was almost directly from the front entrance. After I completed serving myself, I turned around and there was an older woman and her family standing there. She looked right at me, looked me over, smiled and said, “Hi. Party of Five!”  She actually thought I worked there. I was frustrated. There was some mild confusion. Eventually, her “real” waiter served her and her family seemed to have a pleasant experience. But, it made me think. I realistically looked at myself and then compared myself to the waiters and I looked almost identical. I laughed afterwards, but I was convinced that this woman wasn’t dumb or offensive. She entered a very chaotic setting and was just trying to put two and two together as quickly as possible. I think that’s the point, which is if someone is trying really hard to put two and two together and she comes up with three….. let it slide.

Another time, I was at a Asian fusion restaurant. It was a very confusing menu. There was a mix of Asian cuisine with Italian and French. I didn’t understand it. All my friends seemed to adjust to it and ordered very confidently. I was the last one.

I seemed to hesitate and mumble. I whispered, “I’ll have the ……..?” And the waiter blurted out, ” The Peking Duck?”

“No,” I said. “I’ll have the…?”

“The Bon Chon Chicken?” he asks.

“Ummm. No”

Later on, it occurred to me that maybe I wanted that  cheeseburger or  pizza. I had no idea what had happened, until later on that evening. I think it would have been a great skit on Saturday Night Live. Maybe not. If I had known what was going on, I would have continued being indecisive and see if anyone else would have noticed. But the waiter was either trying to be genuinely helpful and recommend menu items that he thought would be acceptable to me or tried to quicken the ordering process and coincidentally recommended only Asian dishes to me. Was he not smart enough to know if he was being offensive? If not, was he just trying to put two and two together?

What if I was the waiter.

What if I was taking the order from an obese lady and I made some recommendations to her based on what she looked like. I politely direct her to our “low carb” section of the menu and insist that she should try anything that was below a certain amount of grams of fat. I warn her though  that each of those menu items DO NOT come with french fries, only vegetables. Or maybe, she might be interested in our Porterhouse Steak Special of the Night?

Again, if I was truly genuine with my intentions, would that be offensive? Would it be fair to say that these product recommendations were fairly accurate or should they have never been recommended in the first place?

I think sometimes, we need to be aware of these situations and what’s to come. We get dozens of recommendations based on our online behavior, purchase history and how I navigate through their website. When will that creep out of our private lives and into public?

One day my online photos and Facebook  “check ins” at Chillis and TGI Fridays will get me spam email from my local gym or emails from some popular author that published a diet book.

If people are genuinely trying to put two and two together..should we get all that upset if they come up with three? In public or private?


2 thoughts on “Common Sense, being offensive and product recommendations:

  1. Yes, yes and yes. As New Age consumers, don’t we tend to trust recommendations? As a result, we’re quickly embracing new forms of e and social commerce. The first wave was led by Epinions and Amazon. What will happen when all of society is habitually recommending? I love these stories!


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