Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Neat People vs. Sloppy People

By Suzanne Britt
I’ve finally figured out the difference between neat people and sloppy people. The distinction is, as always, moral. Neat people are lazier and meaner than sloppy people.
Sloppy people, you see, are not really sloppy. Their sloppiness is merely the unfortunate consequence of their extreme moral rectitude. Sloppy people carry in their mind’s eye a heavenly vision, a precise plan that is so stupendous, so perfect, it can’t be achieved in this world or the next.
Sloppy people live in Never-Never Land. Someday is their métier. Someday they are planning to alphabetize all their books and set up home catalogs. Someday they will go through their wardrobes and mark certain items for tentative mending and certain items for passing on to relatives of similar shape and size. Someday sloppy people will make family scrapbooks into which they will put newspaper clippings, postcards, locks of hair, and the dried corsage from their senior prom. Someday they will file everything on the surface of their desks, including the cash receipts from coffee purchases at the snack shop. Someday they will sit down and read all the back issues of The New Yorker.
For all these noble reasons and more, sloppy people never get neat. They aim too high and wide. They save everything, planning someday to file, order, and straighten out the world. But while these ambitious plans take clearer and clearer shape in their heads, the books spill from the shelves onto the floor, the clothes pile up in the hamper and closet, the family mementos accumulate in every drawer, the surface of the desk is buried under mounds of paper, and the unread magazines threaten to reach the ceiling.
Sloppy people can’t bear to part with anything. They give loving attention to every detail. When sloppy people say they’re going to tackle the surface of a desk, they really mean it. Not a paper will go unturned; not a rubber band will go unboxed. Four hours or two weeks into the excavation, the desk looks exactly the same, primarily because the sloppy person is meticulously creating new piles of papers with new headings and scrupulously stopping to read all the old book catalogs before he throws them away. A neat person would just bulldoze the desk.
Neat people are bums and clods at heart. They have cavalier attitudes toward possessions, including family heirlooms. Everything is just another dust-catcher to them. If anything collects dust, it’s got to go and that’s that. Neat people will toy with the idea of throwing the children out of the house just to cut down on the clutter.
Neat people don’t care about process. They like results. What they want to do is get the whole thing over with so they can sit down and watch the rasslin’ on TV. Neat people operate on two unvarying principles: Never handle any item twice, and throw everything away.
The only thing messy in a neat person’s house is the trash can. The minute something comes to a neat person’s hand, he will look at it, try to decide if it has immediate use and, finding none, throw it in the trash.
Neat people are especially vicious with mail. They never go through their mail unless they are standing directly over a trash can. If the trash can is beside the mailbox, even better. All ads, catalogs, pleas for charitable contributions, church bulletins, and money-saving coupons go straight into the trash can without being opened. All letters from home, postcards from Europe, bills and paychecks are opened, immediately responded to, and then dropped in the trash can. Neat people keep their receipts only for tax purposes. That’s it. No sentimental salvaging of birthday cards or the last letter a dying relative ever wrote. Into the trash it goes.
Neat people place neatness above everything else, even economics. They are incredibly wasteful. Neat people throw away several toys every time they walk through the den. I knew a neat person once who threw away a perfectly good dish drainer because it had mold on it. The drainer was too much trouble to wash. And neat people sell their furniture when they move. They will sell a La-Z-Boy recliner while you are reclining in it.
Neat people are no good to borrow from. Neat people buy everything in expensive little single portions. They get their flour and sugar in two-pound bags. They wouldn’t consider clipping a coupon, saving a leftover, reusing plastic nondairy whipped cream containers, or rinsing off tin foil and draping it over the unmoldy dish drainer. You can never borrow a neat person’s newspaper to see what’s playing at the movies. Neat people have the paper all wadded up and in the trash by 7:05 AM.
Neat people cut a clean swath through the organic as well as the inorganic world. People, animals, and things are all one to them. They are so insensitive. After they’ve finished with the pantry, the medicine cabinet, and the attic, they will throw out the red geranium (too many leaves), sell the dog (too many fleas), and send the children off to boarding school (too many scuff-marks on the hardwood floors).
Yeah! Go Sloppy!

59 comments:

  1. Great piece of lit.

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  2. Well, thank goodness there is finally hope for me. I have to go print this out and give it to my mother.

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  3. This was pretty good. I'm definetly one of the messy folks so I could relate really well to that segment of the article, but now that I've been englightened to the ways of neat people thinking "Someday" I'm going to began incorporating their ways into my life.

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  4. What a creative excuse for being sloppy!

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  5. After reading this, I guess I am a sloppy person

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  6. HAHA, I have no need for excuses anymore...

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  7. What a load of bull. I'm a neat person because I hate coming home to a big, demolarlizing mess. Out of chaos comes order.

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    1. Exactly Out Of Chaos comes order, not out of neatness comes order. ;-)

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    2. You don't have to be so serious about this. This is supposed to be a humorous piece of writing, not one that offends neat people.

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  8. A so-so essay. Go Blecher!!

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  9. I liked this until I realized I might have to write an essay on this tomorrow for English 3 AP Writing and Composition. Thanks a lot.

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  10. YOu need neat people in the world to keep you messy people in line and to work on time.

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    1. Just because a messy person is messy doesn't mean they'll be late to work or that they will step outta line, think before posting.

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  11. I might like it more if it wasnt for having to do a stupid reaction paper on it for school

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  12. I am a neat person, however, I am not like the way the essay is describing a neat person. Personally, I do not find the writing of this essay that great, and the writer comes off to be a little close minded. Like a comment above, this sounds like a big execuse to be a pig, and live filthy.

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    1. I find a lot of truth in this essay. Everything can be seen in relative ways no doubt. Look at your friends and relatives to make an honest determination.

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    2. I'm a neat person also. However I do not throw everything away. I just file or store them neatly. My husband is a slob. I think it's just an excuse to be lazy. Meaner and lazier -- ha. Where does she get that? Never read such a load of bull than this article.

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  13. So let me guess "Suzanne Brit",

    you're an obese, sloppy person living in a pig sty and so embarrassed that you have to put down all these "neat" people? Lame, get a life and a better topic to blog about.

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  14. No need to take offense. I'm a sloppy person and her ideas are accurate, but I do admire and aspire to be like a neat person. it's just a little bit of humour, so don't take it so seriously. Lighten up.

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  15. sheah seriously. you neat people responding are totally falling into her first line of the essay: neat people are meaner. chill dude. its just an essay. not something obama pulled out of his butt for everyone to follow

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  16. Perhaps it isn't so much that she's glorifying sloppy people as she is demoralizing them. I believe she takes the neat people's side though it seems otherwise.

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  17. I love the comments from people who are offended, especially those who think "Suzanne Britt" (do you seriously think that is a nom de plume?) needs to "find a better topic to blog about"!

    Try looking up the author or the essay (not a blog!) and rethink what Britt might have been doing, and why.

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  18. Highly amusing. I'm stuck in the middle of neat and sloppy - can be neat when I HAVE to be, but I can't see my own bedroom floor (sometimes.)

    But I have to do a response essay on it too, and that does kind of drag down the glory. =/

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  19. We need sloppy people in this world to make it a better place.. Its not so bad to be a sloppy person after all...

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  20. is sloppy people cant bear to part with anything a hyperbole?

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  21. This is seriously a brilliant essay.

    "Sloppy people carry in their mind’s eye a heavenly vision, a precise plan that is so stupendous, so perfect, it can’t be achieved in this world or the next." totally rings true for me!

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  22. neat people aren't meaner than sloppy people. It's called self respect. I understand how this concept may be difficult for some to comprehend, especially those of you whom have lost your dictionaries, but seriously, being sloppy isn't something to brag about. First impressions are everything, if someone were to walk in to your nasty home, chances are that they won't come back. Neat people are responsible, hard working individuals, so don't get it twisted...

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    1. Prove the point just a little more.... Please reply :-)

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  23. As a consummate sloppy person, I have to agree with this article - most neat people I've met have been self-righteous, judgmental, critical and conservative, and the ruthless replies from the "neat" people on here do nothing but back that up.

    Studies show that a person's tendency to be sloppy or neat can be seen in children as young as 5, and it usually sticks for life- it's just another personality trait, like quietness or chattiness. Chill out, people.

    I find that the super-neat-freaky people tend to be rather judgmental and condescending towards sloppy people, while sloppy people tend to not care about shallow shit such as what a person's place looks like (unless it's really bad - like bugs and fecal matter on the floor - but that's not sloppy, that's a mental illness like depression - but then, a sloppy person would help them, while a neat person would make them feel like crap).

    Seriously, I've been to people's places that are pristine, and I've been to people's places that are worse than mine (if that's possible) and I don't judge their character based on the amount of dust or clutter in their house - I judge them on how they treat me and how they treat others.

    My boyfriend is a clutter-bug like me, but he happens to keep it organized - but he gets really irritable if something is out of place. He's about a 7/10 on the neat-freakery scale, and he can be pretty mean to me if his place gets too messy - even if it's mostly his stuff. My own mother is about a 10/10 for neatness, and has thrown out my childhood books and toys. She's the same way as my BF - they're both neat, and they're both really judgmental, critical people. I happen to be a night-person as well - while my mother and boyfriend are chirpy morning people - and I get shit for that, too.

    I think I need a new relationship. LOL!

    Being sloppy is NOT about having no self-respect - it's about being easily distracted and sentimental about your belongings. Not all neat people are "responsible, hard-working individuals," and not all sloppy people lack self-respect or are drains on society (in fact, many of us are artistic intellectuals who provide neat people with the pretty artwork they nail to their eggshell-white walls). It's stupid to pigeon-hole people based on their neatness or sloppiness.

    The people on here who posted the bitchy comments need to STFU and realize that neatness (or lack of) JUST DOESN'T MATTER. Being neat DOESN'T make you a better person, it just makes you neat.

    People who torture kittens, criticize and hurt people, abuse children, steal other people's stuff, cheat, lie and promote hate and violence are the bad people here - not sloppy people. My mother, like many of the people who posted that shit on here, seems to judge perfectly nice, albeit disorganized people on the state of their home. It's shallow, it's petty and it's downright stupid to judge people on something like that alone.

    If you DO judge people harshly because they're sloppy, I sincerely hope you meet and marry a really neat psychopath who will exploit you (but keep the place clean), because I wouldn't want to see a sweet, kind, honest-yet-sloppy person have to endure the daily belittling and criticism at the hands of a rigid neat person who can't see past their sloppiness into the heart of who the person really is. I would rather have a sloppy person in my life who is a cheerleader and an encourager rather than a neat person who is a heckler.

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  24. Oh, one more thing (Sloppy Girl here) that I thought was interesting....there's a link between sloppiness and liberalism and neatness and conservatism.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=organization-and-political-leanings

    I think it backs up the author's point that sloppy people are more open people. ;)

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  25. Suzanne Britt likes to infuse a bit of combative humor into her essays. There's no need for anyone to take offense. i tend to fall into the sloppy category for the reason that i like to save things because of the memories attached to them, they are more than objects. mi mother however is a neat person, but not as that described by Britt. mi mom likes to have everything in it's place, but she also likes to save things; i.e. birthday cards, letters, etc. Britt was just taking a look at an idea that maybe there's more to neat and sloppy people than meets the eye.
    ~ mourning

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  26. after reading this article i realized that i am a neat person sometimes i get lazy, this help me to better understand my self more thanks for the great information wish i had learned this earlier

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  27. I admire Susan for making this essay; however, this is not true for every sloppy nor neat person in the world.I agree that most neat people are more responsible but they're also wasteful. I tend to fall in the sloppy category because I hate to waste things. This emanated from growing up poor. My handwriting can be sloppy, but I write neat when I need to. Overall, this essay is inaccurate if it refers to every person in the world. But for most people, I think it is pretty accurate. I do disagree with one of her comments when she said, "Sloppy people carry in their mind’s eye a heavenly vision, a precise plan that is so stupendous, so perfect, it can’t be achieved in this world or the next." That is something a "Kill joyer" would say, which doesn't seem like Susan at all.

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  28. being a sloppy people....?
    that's sound good
    let's try

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  29. Thank you very much for your post, its really helpful.

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  30. I want to know if this can be the thesis statement for this essay (Sloppy people carry in their mind’s eye a heavenly vision, a precise plan that is so stupendous, so perfect, it can’t be achieved in this world or the next).

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  31. Funny how the majority of comments opposing this essay are neat people.I agree with it. I'm sloppy haha

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  32. this is pretty funny. Sloppy people only like this because it makes them feel better

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  33. what is her bigger picture here? set aside the clutter?

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  34. Oh well, it is not so much her questionable sense of humour that bothers me here; it is not the fact that she is painting a very two-dimensional black and white picture either. It is that people relate to it: "Oh yes, everything in my life can be defined so simply. One line, two kinds of people." Seriously?

    I don't recognize any sloppy nor any neat people I know in this essay.

    Why not stick to the definition? (Oxford)
    neat: arranged in a tidy way; in good order.
    sloppy: careless and unsystematic; excessively casual.

    I see nothing about waste or attachment to things here.
    When you want to put people in boxes, the larger your boxes are, the more judgmental and wrong you get. And it doesn't get any funnier...

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  35. You don't have to criticize others just because you don't like yourself. If you want to be a "nasty-sloppy-smelly-live-in-your-filth-person" just go for it! Be the "SLOP." It's your right. Just stop trying to make yourself look good by criticizing others who take pride in their well-being, which includes their environment.

    Again, just be happy being the "SLOP."

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  36. This is the biggest load of rubbish I've ever heard. I try hard to be neat. I spend hours organizing things, meticulously answering emails - every question! I reuse things as much as I can - I use old ice cream tubs instead of buying plastic containers. The difference between sloppy and neat people is far more simple. Neat people do what they know needs to be done, sloppy people do it tomorrow (never) and before long, there is so much to be done, that it's impossible to do it, so they don't. Neat people promise something and do it. Sloppy people will always disappoint you. This is also why sloppy people end up in debt... they'll pay the bill tomorrow. Neat people know that it consumes time and effort to keep things neat, so they find fast and effective ways to sort rubbish from keepsakes... what you call bulldozing. That also means less emotional clutter.

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    1. Some truth, some false. I believe you are correct in saying sloppy people are procrastinators. But as far as distinguishing on whether somebody is responsible by being neat or sloppy is way off base.
      My neat ex husband has abandoned his children to start a new family. Nice and clean cut to keep his life simple. One family, the other kids just don't fit in to his "neat little world".
      Neat and simple. Neat = simple minded. Sloppy = too much, over load, probably trying to clean up emotional messes thrown in the garbage by a neat person.
      If you want somebody you can count on that sloppy person will be with you no matter what kind of mess you have to deal with in life. The neat person will cut their ties (or limit your access to their world) in order to keep their lives neat and clean.

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  37. this is clearly entirely humorous, no one should be offended by this.

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  38. I think the comments are very funny. My daughter posted this link on fb saying it was so funny. It's really seeing people get upset about the article that is funny.
    The neat people freaking out right now are pissed that there is anything in existence that may indicate they are not better. This really shows in the reactions that people are always looking for a way to be better than others. Whatever they can grasp onto to help them believe they are better than everyone around them.
    I am the sloppy person. As a friend of mine says my house is always a "work in progress". I have helped my "neat" sister in law clean her house, where she commented " now I know why your house is messy" because I was cleaning all the crevices in her kitchen cabinets ( it took hours). She has helped me with my house because it has become crazy messy. When she helped me out she threw out everything. Good, important, and crap.
    The next time you are on a "neat" persons house, take a look around, I bet if you look at their stuff you will find it to have dust and dirt in the corners of their homes.
    There is a difference between neat and clean. ;-)

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  39. This essay isn't literal. Britt is using sarcastic humor and hyperboles to get a point across. The people who get mad at this essay aren't neat people. They are people who don't get sarcasm. Educate yourself with sarcasm, people. It's hilarious humor if you get it.

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    1. Thank you. Someone gets it at last!

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  40. I am NEAT PERSON!! i would not change it for the world. I hate being sloppy. it makes me sick. i like to organized, and precise! Thats how i get control of my day and i do well in my life. Sloppy people dont care about anything!! Just because us clean people like to straighten up and care about process. We get the most things done. Sloppy people put things off, lazy, not responisble, dont care about life, and i believe that the author is lazy and just wants to make an excuse for themselves and others. Obviously you have a problem with being sloppy i think that thats why you wrote this. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR BEING A SLOB!!! slobs are hoarders thats why they cant part with anything!!! DUH!!! HELLO!! WAKE UP!!!! i bet sloppy people gets more colds and dont wash their hands after they shit !!! soGO CLEAN and NEAT PEOPLE!!!!!! :)

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  41. This is really hilarious. My English teacher read this to us in class, and invited us to discuss it. We all understood it to be a humorous peice of writing that uses exaggeration to get its (somewhat valid) point across. All you twits bashing it are simply too dense to understand a joke when it's dancing naked in front of you.

    I fit the sloppy description perfectly, and I missed half of the teacher's reading of it because I was laughing at the memory of myself cleaning my room last week. I mean, really cleaning. Taking everything out, including the furnature, cleaning it, sorting out the garbage, and putting it back. The stuff, not the garbage. First time ive done that in eight years. It only took a week because I sat there on the floor tod half of it, reading things I wrote when I was eleven. Making old stacks into new stacks...

    And for the record, in my (admittedly limited) observation of the world, I have noticed a few trends. Sloppy people tend to be more accepting; neat people tend to be more uptight. I cant make any further comments on the matter, because I'm not a sociologist, and I don't want my house egged by a mob of angry neat people who are sure to read this in the future and undoubtedly take offense. Anyway...

    My grandma (who I live with) is a super neat person, but she doesn't fit that description. When I read it to her, she understood it to be a joke, and knew I wasn't calling her mean and lazy. Unlike all you morons who probably spend your lives being super uptight, judgemental, and miserable because everything said to you is extremely offensive. I pity you. If you're neat and you laughed at this essay, I love you.

    If you said sloppy people are lazy, stupid, sickening, smelly, or any number of other juvenile insults I saw flying around here...just think about this. You're no better than you must think the author is, since you're both bashing someone not like yourself. Only she, at least, is doing it in jest. Good day to you all.

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    1. Megan, I am an English instructor, and I happened across this article lying innocently on the desk while I was sitting in the computer lab with my students who are writing a diagnostic essay. I had to stop myself from laughing aloud and disrupting the students' writing process--largely because my mother refuses to even have a dish drain. It has no appropriate place on the counter in her estimation. Because I'm an English teacher, I could probably write lots about this, but suffice it to say that you are spot on in your commentary (all aspects), and I loved your assertion that "All you twits bashing it are simply too dense to understand a joke when it's dancing naked in front of you." I am determined to find some way to work this into our course discussion on rhetoric.

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  42. I find it funny that the sloppy people here are quick to criticize the neat people for taking the essay too seriously and being critical and yet are taking the same essay seriously enough to find genuine validation for themselves and then being utterly judgmental and critical of the neat people. The irony is that both groups are only showing that they have stupidity in common.

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  43. This is absolute gold. And the first article that I've read on messiness vs neatness that is actually accurate (controlling for humour and poetic license etc). But I think it really gets into the messy/neat psyche! I am very mess but extremely organised... once I get there. My husband is very neat but lacks organisation and wastes craploads of money because he keeps throwing out stuff we need OR banishing it into a neat box in the shed with no labelling (whereas I take a year to actually get around to putting stuff in the shed but when I do it's catalogued and traceable!). And he despairs at the mess the kids make - they're kids!!!
    I think you've absolutely hit the nail on the head like nothing I've read before.

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  44. I did not want to read this story because the topic simply did not seem to interest me at all.
    However, reading it was enjoyable. I was first offended by it because it called me a “SLOPPY PERSON;” nevertheless, the story was structures in a way to bash the neat person. I further understood that it was more humor and sarcasm rather than bashing. I like the prospective from which the writer stated her point; however, it is morally and biblically incorrect to be sloppy. Despite my dilemma with being a sloppy person, I think this essay encourages sloppiness, humor or no humor, sarcasm or no sarcasm.

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  45. aww this was good~ thanks..... i struggle for the happy medium ;)

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  46. Guys, I think she was probably trying to make this funny, not hating on neat people. I'm doing a presentation on it and although I don't particularly like it, I do not see why you are just absolutely crucifying her for making a joke that you don't understand, it was meant to be enjoyed, not criticizing your morals.

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  47. I can definitely see a lot of myself in this article... way to go sloppy people! :)

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  48. Oh, come on. Satire is satire. It's supposed to be exaggerated (a bit) and humorous. Remember cleanliness is next to Godliness

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