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No Need to M'splain Yourself: The Test

M’splain [EM-spleyn] verb: 1. to provide additional and/or specific detail on a topic, regardless of whether it is relevant, warranted, or welcome; 2. to provide a recitation of one’s personal experience with a topic or opinion on it, regardless of whether it is relevant, warranted, or welcome. “The fellow ahead of me at Panda Express ordered General Tso’s chicken, so I M’splained to him why the name of that dish is misleading.”

At some point in our lives, we were told — whether by test results, our family, educators, or others — that we’re smarter than the average bear. And heck, we might even sometimes be the smartest people in the room. Does that mean we should always feel compelled to demonstrate that? Must we always flaunt it? M’splaining: We’ve all done it. Whether we realize it or not. Mensans probably do it more than most, hence the M. Sometimes, we don’t even care if what we say is accurate so long as it represents our point of view. We might not always be correct, factually or politically. And on many occasions, our insights are most certainly not welcome. We often forget that a high IQ does not necessarily imply common sense or social propriety. But what happens when you get a room or event full of Mensans? What happens when you have the urge to M’splain to those who also feel comfortable with or at least qualified to M’splain? What does one do? Here then, is a guide to some such situations. Select the option that best avoids M’splaining.

Man Head
Man Head

You are at a Regional Gathering. A friend is trying to decide whether to attend a particular session. Do you:

A. Explain why the topic is invalid because empirical research in the field is lacking;

B. Provide all your knowledge on the topic and your point of view so they are well-prepared both for the content and to challenge the speaker; or

C. Validate their interest but also point out that the brewery tour is scheduled for the same time.

Man Head

You are playing a board game that is new to everyone. Do you:

A. Describe in great detail how it is similar to and/or different from many of the board games you have played before;

B. Critique the rules and objectives of the game before you even start playing and explain why the art design of the game and the box will dissuade anyone from ever buying it. Bonus points if you complain that whoever set up the game did not provide enough paper and writing instruments to keep score; or

C. Learn with your fellow players, experience the game, and offer to get M&M’s for those who want them from the snack table. (Special Note: When one gets M&M’s for others, it is permissible to hoard the green ones for oneself.)

Man Head
Man Head

You are in Hospitality at an event. You are standing near a table of people and overhear them talking about a topic of interest to you. Do you:

A. Sit down and immediately begin telling people all about your experience with and knowledge of the topic;

B. Sit down and, despite the conversation having now shifted to a different topic, hijack the conversation back to the previous topic and tell people all about your experience with and knowledge of the topic; or

C. Politely interrupt during a pause in the conversation, introduce yourself, and say, “I overheard you talking about a topic that interests me — may I join you?”

Man Head

Someone has posted a link to a news article in a Facebook Group. You disagree with the point of view it presents. Do you:

A. Rant about the topic, explain why you are right and they are wrong, question the legitimacy of the source, attack anyone who comments with a different view, and block those who point out flaws in your argument;

B. Read the headline only, make assumptions about the content, and report the post; or

C. Provide an intelligent and well-articulated comment representing your point of view in an inoffensive manner, and scroll by anyone who does A or B.

Man Head

You are at a party and meet someone new. You start chatting, and they mention an activity of mutual interest. Do you:

A. Spend 20 minutes expounding on your experience with said interest;

B. Ignore the mutual interest and spend 20 minutes expounding on something else that is of interest to you; or

C. Have a 20-minute interactive conversation about the mutually interesting activity during which you are listening and asking questions for approximately 10 minutes and speaking about your experience with the subject matter for approximately 10 minutes.

The fellow ahead of me at Panda Express ordered General Tso’s chicken, so I M’splained to him why the name of that dish is misleading.

Tall Man
Man Head

The restaurant at which your chapter used to hold its holiday party has closed, and the event is now taking place at a different venue. The cost for members — which had been steady for the past five years — has risen. Do you:

A. Boast about all the events you have attended and helped plan and explain all the things that could have been done to bring the costs down — before even attending the party;

B. Grouse vocally and to many about the cost but attend anyway and have seconds. And thirds. And fourths; or

C. Offer to help plan next year’s party so you can explore whether your proposed cost-saving measures have merit.

Man Head

Someone has posted a meme on social media. Do you:

A. Comment with an explanation of why the meme is not funny;

B. Comment about something very tangentially related to the meme topic that highlights your knowledge of the subject; or

C. Smile, smirk, or giggle. Or not. Save the meme or delete the meme — your call.

Man Head

You are at the Annual Gathering. You meet a first-time attendee who is relatively new to Mensa. Do you:

A. Tell them no one actually goes to sessions and that the SIG Suites are drunken orgies of debauchery;

B. Tell them the tours are overrated, the games room and Hospitality crowded, and the evening events not worth it; or

C. Learn a bit about their interests, what kind of experience they’re looking for, and their tolerance for group situations where they might not know many people. Explain all the AG has to offer, including sessions, tours, games room, Hospitality, large group events, and SIG-hosted Suites at which everyone is welcome. Offer them your phone number in case they have questions or just need a buddy. Arrange to meet them for coffee later in the week to see how they’re doing.

Man Head

Calculating Your Score: 1. Tally your A responses, your B responses, and your C responses. 2. Ignore the tallies. Strive for the C responses in each scenario. Or M’splain why that’s a lousy idea.

Matthew Grob

MATTHEW GROB likes thinking a little more deeply about some things that happen or occur to him. He likes to share those thoughts with the intent of making you both smile and think some more yourself. He has witnessed or experienced every option labeled A and B above with fellow Mensans, hence the impetus for this piece.