There is a widespread perception that Jewish people like to complain and vent their frustrations out loud, frequently to random strangers in line, and frequently on the topic of their children. Yiddish abusers refer to this as the Jewish tendency to “kvetch.” While this may be true for Jewish Adults, and especially for Jewish Elders, Jewish Young Adults of today have adopted a more refined and subtle form of criticism. Specifically, JYAs use the delicate art of nitpicking to voice their disapproval without appearing overtly hostile and while maintaining plausible deniability.
Nitpicking can take the form of noting minor flaws as a way for a JYA to avoid a more serious confrontation. Former sorority sisters, “Talia” and “Jen” have harbored a secret mutual resentment toward each other ever since they forced ZBT member “Ari” to choose between them junior year. Five years later, upon a shopping excursion at Nordstrom, “Tally” informed “Jen” that her Nicole Miller strapless looked a little “snug” in the midriff region and suggested something with “rouging.” “Jen” responded, “Um, I think you mean “ruching.” Ari, incidentally, chose to play beer pong until he passed out and avoided them both in favor of “Rebecca”.
“Whatever,” recalls Talia, “It’s not like she’s Tim Gunn. And at least I didn’t tell her she should try on a dress that hadn’t eaten a burrito for lunch every day this week. Which is totally what I should have said.”
Academic JYAs frequently Nitpick complete strangers. “Dave,” a nominal graduate student of literature cum unemployed wannabe policy buff, has a tendency to troll militant blogs and make comments like “Actually, UN Resolution 3397 was REVOKED by Resolution 46/86 in December of 91, get your facts right you ignorant moron.”
JYA “Keren” remembers with embarrassment the afternoon she was drawn into a flame war with someone on a message board who called her out for using the word “stupider,” which they claimed was not a real word. “I mean, eventually I had to laugh it off, because “stupider” is in the dictionary, so who’s stupider now?”
Finally, JYAs will Nitpick in anger and frustration, in lieu of an argument. JYA “Rachel”, who had been fighting with her mother all morning, let her mother drive around in circles for an hour looking for the Hadassah offices in Manhattan, which she swore were on 56th, and only after her mother reached complete exasperation did Rachel inform her timidly “Um, I’m pretty sure it’s on 58th.”
Whatever the reason and whatever the scenario, JYAs have a strong penchant to point out minor flaws and mistakes that they deem inappropriate even when they are so insignificant that any normal person would let it go . Non Jews should feel honored if they are on the receiving end of a nitpicking JYA, it means that the JYA likes you enough to harp on your most minor flaws and considers you resilient enough not need special treatment.
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