Q: Management recently decided to run an art exhibition of employees' works in the office. I thought long and hard about entering a painting I'd been working on during an evening class, and which I was quite proud of. I've since overheard several colleagues sniggering about it, which has been very hurtful. I would like to say something to them because it's left me feeling angry, but I feel too embarrassed to defend myself. Should I ask for it to be taken down?
A: All sniggerers are sad and silly people. I'm normally nervous about generalisations but not that one. Paintings that are other than naturalistic (and might as well be photographs) seem to induce in some a curious mixture of insecurity and infantilism. They don't know what to make of them; this makes them feel inadequate - and so they snigger.
Nothing you might say to them would do any good. You're not going to talk them into a sudden appreciation of aesthetics. They'll just snigger some more, pleased that they've clearly got under your skin. Individually, they'd all probably admit to doubt and curiosity. As members of a gang, they will feed on a kind of group-fuelled meanness.
If you were feeling feisty, it might be fun to put a red sticker on your painting - the kind that art galleries use to indicate that a painting has been sold. That might give them pause for thought. But doing and saying nothing is probably an even better course of action. Even sniggerers have to stop sometime.
Whatever you do, don't ask for your painting to be taken down. The sniggerers would interpret that as clear evidence of victory.