Yesterday a friend of mine posted a status on Facebook about an issue she is passionate about. In no time flat someone commented, “Well this other thing is important too!”
Y’all, I try so hard to be kind but stuff like this gets me all kinds of riled up. It just makes me crazy that someone can completely derail a conversation with some thought that is loosely related at best. I just want to shout, “NO ONE WAS TALKING TO YOU WHACKADOO!” And then I realize that maybe that is part of the reason the comment was made. I know we’ve all seen it a billion times. A question about one person’s actions turns into a dog fight about entire political parties or a comment about one person’s experience seems to be an invitation for every opinion under the sun. And let me tell you, don’t think that people hold back when you’re sharing your personal experience with stage 4 cancer because I’ve seen the armchair oncologists in action and it’s ghastly.
To me it feels exactly like a scenario in which I’m talking to friend and I say, “Hey I really like your top.”
Another friend says, “That’s cute, I have a similar one I got at Target.”
The next thing you know somebody runs across the room, barrels into to the middle of the group and shouts, “I wear pants! See, look at my pants! Why don’t y’all like pants?” Stuff like that brings out my inner mean girl and I don’t like the fact that I have an inner mean girl much less that I’ve got to wrestle her to the ground and put Duck tape on her mouth.
Here’s another example: It’s no secret that I go to recovery meetings. We do a lot of sharing in those and every now and then people cry when they are sharing. (Okay, it’s me. I cry. But I’m not the only one sometimes…) So there’s this authentic moment when someone has let down their defenses and is sharing something raw and here comes the Kleenex bearer! Now don’t get me wrong, Kleenex has it’s place but when somebody gets up to clomp across the room and gets the box and tromps right over to shove a tissue at the person who’s right in the middle of a moment, suddenly the focus changes from sharing something special to an unspoken demand to pull it together. Not going to lie, I’ve fantasized about this badass ninja move where I kick the Kleenex box out of the offender’s hand and knock them out with a sleeper hold before they change the energy in the room with their well-meaning “tissueing .”
So this interweb thing happened yesterday and I felt the same old judgement and anger popping in to say hello and I decided to turn the flashlight on myself and see if I couldn’t get a better handle on my interpretation of these actions. When someone chimes in with a new topic, before I judge or attack, I’m going to try to think about their actions in another way. I can ask myself, “What might be going on with this person that they feel the need to post that?” Maybe they are a jerk, OR maybe they don’t feel like they have a voice or an audience and this is a way to be included. Maybe they don’t have super strong social skills and they don’t realize that they are stirring up controversy OR maybe they are doing it intentionally because Facebook seems like a safe place to vent and let off some steam. Perhaps I just don’t know what’s going on with them and I don’t need to, I just need to accept that Facebook is a place where almost anyone can say almost anything and that’s just how it is. When the Kleenex bearer does his or her thing, I can view those actions as an assault or I can look at it as an attempt at kindness. I can consider the idea that tears make some people very uncomfortable because of their history or their inability to cry and I can try to accept their discomfort as quickly as I accept another person’s right to share their feelings. I guess what I am saying is that I get to decide whether to feed my own anger and opinions or whether I feed my compassion and curiosity. Today I’m going to try to understand rather than to demand to be understood.
Make it a fabulous Friday, y’all!