Today’s Context-Free Quote Up For General Discussion

It is:

“You know, with people, there’s a really fine line between ‘interesting’ and ‘damaged.'”


67 Comments on “Today’s Context-Free Quote Up For General Discussion”

  1. The distinction to me is attitude: “damaged” is wallowing in one’s flaws/tragedies, “interesting” is routing around them and moving on.

    How’s that for an overly generalized thumbnail response to a context-free quote?

  2. It really has to do with how much they want from me. Interesting shares, listens and offers building blocks. Damaged wants to either get fixed by me or to drag me down to their level so they aren’t feeling so alone. Interesting has the possibility to create, damaged just tries to replicate.

  3. You know, John, I really wish you’d keep your opinions about my personal life off your blog.

    Besides, “damaged” is so subjective. I’ve always considered myself just a slight neurotic with a side of social retardation.

    Oh…wait. You weren’t specifically talking about me, here?


  4. “Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way.” –Doctor Who
    (a Sylvester McCoy serial, I think, but I can’t remember which)

  5. I think being interesting and being damaged goes hand in hand, the question is where does the ratio of interesting-ness (it’s a real word, right next to truthiness) versus damage turn to being scary? Where is that balance point?

  6. Devin @ 3:

    Without disagreeing that that is one definition, damaged can also refer to somebody that is hurt beyond their ability to self-repair. Wallowing in your misery doesn’t necessarily indicate a burning desire to be there, sometimes it is an inability to do anything else.

  7. Everyone is damaged, so that leaves two categories to deal with: interesting damaged people and boring/annoying damaged people.

  8. Yeah, noting someone is “damaged” doesn’t necessarily imply that the damage is self-inflicted and/or could have been avoided. It’s just noting it exists.


    I disagree that everyone’s damaged. Lots of people aren’t, and lots of people who were, no longer are.

  9. As a corollary, I had a friend turn to me in an acting class who noted, “Someone needs to tell this person that emotional instability is not acting.”

  10. It’s a Schrodinger’s personality trait experiment – whether it’s damaged or interesting depends on who is opening the box.

  11. John @ 13:

    Would that be “scarred” rather than damaged if they used to be damaged and no longer are? There’s a certain macho appeal to having scars, means you got hurt and got better (not to mention the bragging rights).

  12. The quotation assumes that people start off undamaged. Is a blank sheet of paper ‘damaged’ when you write or draw upon it? It sure isn’t interesting until someone’s made their mark upon it.

  13. I think people who have been “damaged” and have healed from it are more interesting (and scientific studies show they tend to be more empathic) than people who’ve never been hurt at all.

    Since healing is a gradual process, and it’s hard to say exactly when it’s complete (and perhaps it never is), I think it’s not so much a fine line as a gray area. I’m pretty healthy these days, but my damage still shows under certain circumstances (and no, I will not tell you where my buttons are).

    I think I’m a pretty interesting guy. I have a lot of patience with other people’s damage. One of my favorite people in the world right now had childhood experiences that have left him a paranoid schizophrenic who suffers from chronic depression. That’s his damage. MINE leaves me compulsively trying to heal people; I encourage him to take his medication (his schizophrenia is entirely controllable as long as he takes his meds, praise be to Æsklapios), and as a depressive myself, I know how to talk to him when he’s depressed.

    I find people who’ve never been hurt/damaged relatively difficult to deal with. They lighten the room, don’t get me wrong, and I’m happy for them. But when my issues surface, they’re just bewildered. It’s very hard for them to understand where I’m coming from, or believe me when I say it’s not about them. Not that it’s impossible for them to learn, if they want to; but sometimes I feel they’re better off not understanding—that it’s better that some people not have to deal with the really nasty shit if they don’t have to.

  14. Also, the quote implies that damage isn’t interesting in and of itself – that at some point, “interesting-ness” stops being interesting and starts being damage. A mistaken assumption, IMO!

  15. I love the way everyone’s assuming it’s emotional damage, psyche damage or some other form of headological calamity.

    He could just be talking about antique furniture you know.

  16. No, wait… “people” is in there. Well, what’s wrong with antiquing people, anyway? Eh? No law against it, except in most places.


  17. Am VERY angry at the Princess Bride embargo. Also, feel really stupid (which makes sense as the source of the anger) since that was pretty much where I was going first. So now I will instead present my statements much in the manner of Logic 101: All damaged people are interesting. Not all interesting people are damaged. And since I’m done with finals, I had time to dig a little deeper than usual for a comment, and came up with this gem:
    There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating: people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.
    Oscar Wilde
    Yeah, I know he said “fascinating.” But for me it’s equivalent to “interesting.”

  18. Mr. S. wrote “I disagree that everyone’s damaged.”

    I my experience as a psychologist I have come to the conclusion that brain damage is universal. The brain is SO complex that they NEVER work right. Never.

    Color blind? Brain damage.
    Tone deaf? Your noggin don’t work right.
    Lysdexia, I mean dyslexia? My cerebral misfunction.
    ADHD? Funky dopamine dispersal in frontal lobes.
    Unable to Dance?
    Can’t attach to others?
    Don’t like Sci Fi?

    You get the idea.

    All brain disorders. (Well, all but one.) List enough, and everyone has one. At least.

    Now not all of us have been damaged by others, thank God. And many of us, even those of us with brains that don’t work right, are feeling MUCH better now.

  19. Xopher wrote: “One of my favorite people in the world right now had childhood experiences that have left him a paranoid schizophrenic who suffers from chronic depression.”

    The current thinking about Schizophrenia is that it is mostly biological. Now experience and drug use can make the illness more or less likely to be expressed, but I think that ver few people currently think in terms of making someone schizophrenic.

    The literature is right with you on depression however.

    And you sound like a good friend to some folks who could use some support. Outstanding.

    Most of my different friends have Asperger’s syndrome. They are different, but very interesting and make excellent friends in my experience.


  20. Yeah, and I missed my guess on the over/under.

    Oh, well.

    By the way, I celebrate the return of the “Preview” button.

  21. No, no. Let there be a Princess Bride embargo, too.

    ::double take::

    Hey! How long has the “Preview” button been back?

  22. Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit.

    “There has not been any great talent without an element of madness.” Roman Senator Seneca, 4 BC I believe.

    There’s a guy who knew that people needed to have something…tweaked…in their personality to be interesting.

  23. # Justme with a small mon @ 15 “It’s a Schrodinger’s personality trait experiment – whether it’s damaged or interesting depends on who is opening the box.”

    I agree. My addition is that a lot depends on if the opener is predisposed to sneer at or support the person.

  24. There is also pathology that attracts, and pathology that repels. I bet that is true of brokenness as well.


  25. @Trey #27:

    That was my point earlier. I have yet to meet someone who is not damaged in one way or the other. It’s a matter of degrees in terms of how damaged they are.

  26. Then why do we consider it damaged? Why don’t we just consider it differences within the norm and leave it at that.

    It’s not damage – it’s a feature.

  27. Chris @ 37

    Yes, or alternately “I have the wrong size glass for my insanity”

    Does damage include learning lessons the hard way?
    Cuz if it does, I’m so there…

  28. Justme @ 36, if you haven’t read Asimov’s essay on “The Abnormality of Being Normal”, then this would be a superb time to dig it out and read it.

  29. I laugh at your non-embargo!

    “Life is pain, and anyone who says differently is selling something”


    But for reals, what about the people labeled “difficult”? Are they interesting, damaged, or do they just damage others?

    And for serious, I think damaged, but healing or healed people can be very interesting — and that most interesting people are ones who recognize they’ve suffered some hurt or damage and come through it. BUT, damaged people who spread the damage, or claim they are not damaged/are healed but clearly aren’t? Not interesting, but scary in a ‘will spread the damage’ way.

  30. Hmm, I think my husband has learned a lot that would be relevant to this discussion and that quote in the last three years…

    I’ll have to ask him. *grin*

  31. Until just now, I tended to think that this site was quite interesting and at the same time damaged.

    But now that damage has been healed. The preview button is back!! w00t!

  32. To quote an ex-boss: Functionality is making your pathology work for you, instead of working for it.

  33. But for reals, what about the people labeled “difficult”?

    I’ve noticed that the label of “difficult” tends to say more about the labeler than the labelee. Meaning, “this person won’t do what I want them to do.”

  34. I work in a prison. Damaged is always more interesting…..sometimes more dangerous, but always more interesting.

  35. Oh heck :/ . Amy @49, you reminded me – I’m currently working in a mental hospital compiling risk assessments.

    I really don’t even want to THINK about “damaged” ATM.

  36. “She said she’s not telling it today
    She said “Come back when you’re alone”
    “Come back when you’re alone”
    The damage The damage
    The damage The damage
    The damn damn dam damage

    Are you a natural woman?
    I know I’ve got it comin..
    Dissent in the air
    And the water running

    Don’t give me what’s in the window, babe
    I want the stuff you think would never sell
    Whatcha have under the counter on the bottom shelf?
    I’ll buy the lowdown deepdown primal truthful self

    I let the genie out of the box
    I let the genie out of the box”

    OK, now who sang that? Their current lead singer is interesting. Their original lead singer (whom John has featured here before) is, by his own admission, damaged.

    And also interesting.

  37. justme@36 “It’s not damage – it’s a feature?”

    Who decided to bring Microsoft into the discussion??

  38. I’m both interesting and damaged and proud of it.

    goes for the rest of the family too. Just sayin’.

  39. Reminds of what my loony tunes artist of a mother used to say, “mental health is making your foibles work for you rather than against you”.

  40. I’ve been moving from Damaged to Interesting and back again all throughout my life. At the moment I’m at the Damaged end of the pendulum, and I’m terrified that it makes me Not Interesting. But now that folks have mentioned that Damaged is Interesting, I wonder if I can put that on a classified ad? “Divorced woman with 2 tons baggage. In Search Of Interesting. Serious inquiries only.”

  41. Mr. Scalzi,

    I know you didn’t say that. But the minute commenter #4 laid odds on Princess Bride quotes, it became embargoed (to me, I mean. But I’m dark & twisty & obstinate & damaged that way. [Which I think refutes my previous assertion, seeing how I’m not terribly interesting.])

  42. waltinexile @# 58: But are you from Australia, which as everyone knows, is peopled by criminals?

    (I couldn’t resist.)

  43. DG Lewis @59: No. And before you start this, I want to remind you:
    Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

    (…and before you can say it, *I* have spent the last 5 years building up an immunity to iocane powder.)

  44. I come from a pretty screwed up childhood, so I try to make being damaged funny (or at least I hope I do) so it becomes interesting and if I can’t, I usually just bite my tongue and sit on my hands. I’ll write about bizarre stuff if I think my readership would enjoy it, or at least get some kind of emotional reaction from it, but in real life, I never talk about it. No one wants to hear about the time my fourth grade teacher dropped dead in the middle of class and my parents got my sister (who was not there) therapy because they loved her more. When you read it, it’s a story. When someone says it out loud, then there’s a person attached to the words, and that’s not fun for anybody.

    That philosophy works ninety percent of the time, but there’s still that ten percent where I find myself acting or saying something in a way no regular person would just because I can’t seem to figure out what regular people are supposed to do. I’m quirky, but it’s manageable.

    As for the everyone being damaged meme… eh… really? I mean there’s “my father was somewhat distant when I grew up, and I am afraid I am somewhat cold to my own children” then there’s “I was beaten every single day of my life and whenever I go into a room I check for exits and weapons.”

    I guess, on some Zen philosophical level, everyone is damaged. But there’s the real damage, the systemic damage that lives in every aspect of someone’s life, and then there’s the damage that’s quarantined in one area that can be dealt with and healed.

    I’m good friends with a popular blogger (I hope that translates as interesting) whose mother locked her in a room, starved her, and forced her to get married when she was fifteen years old so that she would no longer be her legal guardian. She’s fascinating, but she also has some really offbeat ideas about what goes on in other people’s heads that can be very jarring.

    And to be more immediate and stop wandering… I suppose people find damaged people interesting because it’s somehow exotic to experience someone who doesn’t think the same way other people do. Someone who comes from a different background and who works off a somewhat different sheet of “givens” and comes to wildly different conclusions than other people. I think where it starts to wear though is when you see that that person is suffering because of that damage, and then it stops being fun. Then it just starts to be very very uncomfortable.

    I try to find that line in my own life. Because there is nothing worse than being the dude who made someone very very uncomfortable.

  45. I think if you italicize interesting, it’s pretty easy to agree with.

    “Well, he’s… interesting… you know?”
    That’s a very small step from, “Uh, dude’s got problems.”

    But maybe that’s just my ear?

  46. Nothing in particular to say, just chiming in as “damaged”!


    But in an /interesting/ way.

  47. @10: Note that my definition said nothing about how the flaws were being fixed/addressed or even who was doing it. Intention to fix/workaround does not always translate into success in doing so. To me, it’s the attitude that makes the difference — not the results.

  48. It’s totally subjective. One persons interesting is anothers damaged. My own subjective experience is that I don’t remember ever meeting or talking to someone and thinking, wow he/she is damaged.

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