The Sound of Silence

Daily Prompt: Cringe Worthy

Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?



Oh, this prompt really hits a nerve with me, especially since I tend to internalize what I see and hear. I would consider myself highly sensitive to my surroundings, which is great when things are good, but look out when they’re not. Yikes!

Witnessing someone being embarrassed hits me at the core and usually leaves me with a pillow over my face as if I’m watching someone being slaughtered. This usually occurs during shows like American Idol or X Factor when people are convinced that they are talented. Oh my God I’m starting to sweat just thinking about it! 

During these shows the worst part of all is when the producers decide to do a little piece on how the particular person made it to the life changing moment we are about to witness. It usually entails some sort of sad sac story of homelessness, tragedy or overcoming some insane obstacle, yet here they are ready to make it big. I ALWAYS take this bait and immediately start chanting…please be good, please be good. 

Just as the person takes the stage I can feel my heart swelling in anticipation and there is nothing in the world I want more in that 6b24075a1d06e38b0d8361d58936c7bcmoment than for this complete stranger to bring down the house and leave us in awe. As soon as the music starts and the first note is released, I know if I’m going to be cheering or hiding behind my throw pillow for the loooonnnggessst 2 minutes in history. There have been many times that I found myself willing the power to go out to save this soul from further humiliation. 

Of course I’m not referring to the goofball who just wastes everyone’s time for their 15 minutes of fame, I’m talking about those who would swear on the lives of their children that they are talented. They are usually the ones with that surprised look on their face as the room fills with the sound of crickets. I just felt a pang in my stomach on that thought … jesus.


Dear Lord…

As you can imagine my squirminess is not limited to talent shows. Oh no, I spent a long 8 years squirming during the Bush administration. For so many reasons, but that’s another story. It doesn’t matter if I agreed with his policies or not during his time in office. He was our President, so if he was giving a speech or holding a press conference I would tune in to see what was going on in our country. Needless to say by the second term I had to bring out the big guns and invest in a body pillow to hide behind. 

Even though we had our differences, I couldn’t help but feel bad as he stumbled over words or take a deep breath just was at a loss for words. I would shout through my pillow at the TV “Just say something…anything…NOW!” My face would be blushing for him as the room fell silent. I know it would be really very easy to wallow in moments like this, but I couldn’t. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh when SNL put a spotlight on the moment. 

So, when it comes to squirming I would have to say public humiliation does it to me in a big way, most likely because it’s always empathy_cartoonbeen one of my biggest fears. Let me explain. I’ve been publicly humiliated by loosing my skirt on the dance floor while wearing my mother’s granny panties and I’ve been shit on by a flock of pigeons on my lunch hour and survived. I just found these things funny, as did everyone else. Laughter is so much better than silence. 

What I’m talking about is the kind of humiliation that leaves the room with the roaring sound of crickets. I’ve always feared public speaking, not because of the speech, because of the reaction and even though I’ve faced my own fear, it still affects me when I witness happening to someone else. Got Empathy? Um, I sure do!

None of us will ever truly understand something until we actually experience it ourselves, so do something that makes you squirm and Enjoy the Ride! 

16 responses

  1. I couldn’t, and still can’t, listen to G.W. Bush. xoM


  2. Oh, I was squirming just reading about your discomfort in embarrassing situations. I felt the same way about Pres. Bush, so I know where you are coming from. 🙂


  3. […] The Sound of Silence | Life With The Top Down […]


  4. I have squirmed when people are performing and miss a note. They must know instantly and it is too late. I tend to stiffen up and hold my breath until it is over!


  5. | Reply

    I get uncomfortable when people are arguing in public !


  6. I get uncomfortable for people, those who are embarrassed or those who I think should be. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a public, in a movie or those brief clips of reality shows I sometimes see – I’m horrified for people.


  7. It always frightened me that the person in charge of the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world couldn’t even pronounce the word nuclear.


    1. Hahahahaha! Indeed that was a whole other level of fear!


      1. Yes. It truly was.


  8. When I was little, I always felt bad for Barney Fife. Just as I felt uncomfortable for Ben Stiller’s character when he met his in-laws in the Meet the Parents movie. Even when I knew what I did not know when I was little, that Stiller and Don Knotts played the foils on purpose, it still made me uneasy to watch the various mishaps when Stiller met his future in-laws.


  9. I embarrass so easily but try to pretend otherwise. Have you ever seen the Lucy episode when she spots William Holden at The Brown Derby? He decides to turn the tables and stare at her for a change and she tries to eat her spaghetti like nothing is awry? That’s me…I just never have an Ethel around when I need her…she cut Lucy’s pasta with manicure scissors. Oh Top…this was a very evocative essay, I must say…and you know, it was nice to see Rainman again…I kinda miss him…he was so funny our George 🙂


  10. I squirm during TV shows when its really suspenseful or the situation is really embarrassing for one of the characters. I’m putting myself out there this week, performing a Does This Happen to You moment, Getting the Finger for a late night theatre audition.


  11. If it happens to me I can laugh about it, no problem. If someone else is humiliated in public I am mortified. As you say there is a whole lot of silence while everyone just looks at each other to see if anyone else will do anything. My mouth just automatically starts moving and talking really loud or I could stumble and fall…anything to bring the attention from the person who has been humiliated.


  12. As a jaded New Yorker I relish the thought of watching these train wrecks! Pull up a chair and grab me some popcorn!

    As for the George Bush years I have erased that from all memory!


  13. I too feel uncomfortable while Witnessing someone being embarrassed of something; but only in real world not on television.


  14. So much to comment on here!
    First, I couldn’t stand to listen to Bush either. I use to read the transcripts after the speech and then catch the highlights on The Daily Show the next night.

    And I feel the same way when I watch those talent shows. I know a couple of people who auditioned for American Idol when they came to our town. There are several layers of auditions before you get in front of the cameras. When I heard that, I always wondered why they would take the time to make all those sappy backstorys for people who have no talent and won’t get through to the next round.


Leave a Reply to penneyfox Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: