I won this particular copy of Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary in the 8th grade, when I won the all-school spelling bee on the word “forfeit.” It’s been with me a long time, and the cover is askew from years of abuse. Now, of course, I usually use the Internet, or sometimes the lovely but cumbersome “Compact” Oxford English Dictionary, which was a gift from the Fox. It’s the one that has 9 pages printed in minuscule text on each oversized page, and come with a fun magnifying hemisphere.
As for defining other people: the dictionary is just doing its job, after all, when it offers definitions. I’m not sure what’s up with people who think they can define total strangers who don’t want and haven’t asked for their opinion. There are the critics who insist on telling other people what their gender or sexuality *really* is, and the ones who explain the life experience of people from different economic classes, and even the ones who say, “Well, I can easily do XYZ, therefore everyone should easily do XYZ and if they don’t they’re lazy and deserve to fail.”
The solution, of course, is to shut up and listen. It’s not easy. When you have your own, perfectly valid perspective, you don’t necessarily see the need to hear someone else’s point of view. Personally, I think that empathy is one of the things that separates us from wild creatures. If you lack the ability to put yourself into another person’s shoes, the DSM would probably define you as having antisocial personality disorder, more popularly known as being a psychopath., If you have the ability but choose not to exercise it, I’d love to know how you define yourself. Also, how you live with yourself.
Unfortunately for me, I seem to have come across a great many of these people online lately.