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Settling the ‘peesh’ problem

The Tuning Fork

Two recent pieces in The Daily Targum shed light on a subset of the worldwide population neither well-represented nor well-researched. I am speaking, of course, about peeshes, of which a large portion of this school may be categorized. “Peesh” is the vernacular term to describe a nice person with nothing to talk about, and the author remarked in his Feb. 17 column, “A Problem of ‘Peeshiness,’” they are also known as a “shween” once across the Pennsylvanian border. I was extremely excited upon my first read-through of the column. The term “peesh” has been commonplace in my vocabulary for quite some time, and to see it broach the vernacular in my alma mater makes me extremely proud, both as an early proponent for the word and a big fan of expansion of the English language.

My heart quickly sank, however, upon the sight of a responding letter, “Do Not Conflate Introversion with ‘Peeshiness,’” in the Feb. 22 issue of the Targum. The author, needless to say, shows a complete misappropriation of the term, or at the very least, a complete misunderstanding. The column’s author did essentially claim that peeshes were boring individuals who were tough to engage in conversation, some of which may only have vanilla quips about current events when asked about their opinions. The author of the response argued that there is a possibility that the only reasons peeshes are so “peeshy” is either because of their innate introversion, or the person in question simply has no desire to continue the conversation.

While the responder did bring up some novel points, the body of his argument is sadly lacking due to a misunderstanding of the term in question. A peesh — although the subset may largely be comprised of introverts — is in no way exclusive to this personality type. In fact, some of the most flagrant violators of social norms are extroverted peeshes. They always seem to start awkward conversations, engaging we normal folk in inescapable social nightmares, where we make small talk and awkward jokes and talk about the weather and our classes, and what a “good game” was on last night, all with uncomfortable eye contact that lasts only a second or two too long — but that feels like an eternity.

By far, the largest misconception regarding peeshes and the entire “peeshy” subculture is that it is comprised entirely of introverted folks. One of the largest defining characteristics of peeshes is not at all related to their volume or frequency of speech, but rather, the depth. There is some odd characteristic of peeshes that prevents them from reaching “the next level” of conversation. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone telling a story, filled with mundane details and a rambling plot, and before you know it, the story has ended with no punch line or substantial closure? At this point, all that is left in the conversation is awkward eye contact, maybe a subtle nod with a forced smile, and a comment of “Oh man, that’s crazy,” or something of that ilk. You can even pull out your best story or joke, the tried-and-true one that always gets a laugh or a gasp, but the peesh seems lost, unable to comprehend the point — and sometimes, unable to understand what a joke is.

Understandably, this may lead to some confusion as to whether one pointing the finger at a peesh may be a peesh themselves. While this could be an interesting dilemma worthy of an introductory philosophy class, it is, in reality, a moot point. Peeshes almost always seem to have no concept of self. When explained what a peesh is, most peeshes have no comprehension of what is being explained to them. There is a world of difference between peeshes and non-peeshes, but the difference is nearly unnoticeable to those in the former camp. As such, the author’s advice in his column stands true for peeshes and non-peeshes alike: Get a hobby and make yourself well-informed on something, so you at least have a default conversation to fall back on.

Cody Gorman is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in Middle Eastern studies and political science with a minor in history. His column, “The Tuning Fork,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.

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