Mistakes and mortals: Always a mixed reaction

About Kathy Lee Gifford's faux pas; it would be great to have a dollar for every time the thought, “How could I be so stupid,” is thunk. Photo: boostsamurai

WASHINGTON June 1, 2012 - Although it hasn’t been identified by researchers yet, we are all born with a stupid-mistake gene. Some of us get one from each parent, leaving us prone to more mistakes than others. However, we all carry this derelict DNA.

This is evidenced by the fact that we have in our vocabulary the word “oops.” Oops doesn’t even look like a real word but spellcheck doesn’t underline it. This word signifies a mistake that does not lead to anyone’s injury or death, but it may have an undesirable consequence, like global finger-pointing.

Kathy Lee Gifford’s faux pas with Martin Short is a hot topic at this writing. Gifford made a big co-host mistake in asking Martin Short about his married life when his wife died about two years ago. Gifford apologized to Short for her lapse of interview savvy. I suspect she felt embarrassed and temporarily stupid.

It would be great to have a dollar for every time the thought, “How could I be so stupid,” is thunk. Some of us wouldn’t be rich, but could go out for a fine dinner and order wine that has aged more than two years.

Our world is not very mistake-compassionate. Maybe that is a good thing. If mistakes were easily overlooked, we might make more of them. We don’t have to worry about that though. Humans have a visceral response to mistakes, their own or someone else’s, because we all know the feeling. 

When a person trips and falls, it is hard not to laugh. If he or she starts bleeding onlookers tend to sober-up, but there’s a reason America’s Funniest Home videos has been on the air for approximately ninety-nine years. It’s not as funny when someone trips over their own tongue, putting another person in an awkward or upsetting position, but people will be people.

We sometimes take a piranha-pleasure in other people’s mistakes although we may not want to. Our feelings frequently don’t match our thoughts. Sometimes we cannot hide our shock or amusement, like when a friend sticks their size nine into their mouth while your mouth is full of water or coffee. 

When this article is posted, Kathy Lee may no longer be on top of the hot trend heap, but no matter. Whatever makes the news will incite a spontaneous feeling reaction and an opinion; they may or may not match.

 An intimate friend has provided an example of a mixed response to a mistake. She said, “This morning watching the news, I felt uncomfortable for Martin Short, snickered because Gifford’s mistake is a bit piranha-funny, but I think it all much ado about very little.  


When people are depressed, their funny-bone may go numb. Don’t let depressive symptoms rob your enjoyment of life. Depression is highly treatable; learn more at Healthline.com.


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Jacqueline Marshall

Jacqueline Marshall is a writer for Help For Depression, and freelances primarily in the areas of psychology and personal development. She has a MA in Counseling Psychology and is a licensed therapist living near Chicago.

Jacqueline has experience helping those diagnosed with severe, persistent mental illness, and in providing general therapy services for individuals, couples, and families. Prior to counseling, she worked in graphic design and music education.

When not writing or counseling, Jacqueline enjoys reading literature and math-less books about quantum physics. She is a published poet, and has studied animal communication and energy healing.  


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