People don’t like being told they’re wrong. Speaking as ‘people’ as my own example, I’m terrible when I make mistakes. Traditionally my brain and mouth run at differing speeds when flustered or frustrated, and so typing gives me the vital time required to think before I ‘speak’ and that’s probably why I prefer this medium now to communicate over everything else. It is my own self-woven safety net. I’ve learnt a lesson this week in how not only I use the words but on directing intent, and grasped that sometimes, like it or not, you’re just better off not talking to some people at all. You’d think I’d learn after each time I interact with certain individuals, they treat me like the shit they just scraped off their shoe. You hope that maybe it’s a bad day and perhaps they’ll be nicer, but nope, still a total twatcanoe. Then, I end up asking the same question.
Is it me that’s the problem here, or is it you?
The reality, of course, is that it’s a bit of both, and unless parties involved are prepared to reconsider terms and engagement, it will always be this way. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and eventually a point is reached where if it matters enough to everyone involved, you will find a way. That’s the key: however, the reality is more often that one party’s completely unaware of what a twat they are until someone informs them of this whom they trust. Again, this is personal experience speaking, and I can be completely clueless sometimes. I’m therefore extremely grateful for everybody I know who chips in or points out I might have made a misstep along the way. Nobody said that communication was ever going to be simple or without potential misinterpretation.
I’ll make an effort with difficult people, but there comes a point where I just stop listening. This isn’t because I’m unwilling to communicate, anything but. It is inevitably because I feel that, like it or not, what I’m saying isn’t being given the respect I’m being careful to demonstrate with the other person. After a while you shouldn’t need to be formal, it should just be a relaxed and comfortable relationship where dispute or conflict is dealt with sympathetically. However, if the other person refuses to allow you that intimate access (and I mean that in terms of emotional trust, not physical closeness) there will never be the opportunity to forge a real and meaningful relationship. Ironically I’ve seen people claim that I’ve done this with them, that by the action of simply talking to them we are somehow fast friends. That’s not how this works, guys.
It takes two people to build a friendship, especially on the Internet.
As I become more political and less personable on Twitter, I have noticed people drifting away with whom I had decent bouts of communication in the past. These people showed me respect and understanding, but when it becomes apparent that my reaction to the Real World events at present is… well, volatile, they choose to step away, and I find myself amazed that this is a surprise. If you claim to know me as well as I suspect you believed was the case, this should not come as unexpected… yet it does, and ironically that lack of tolerance is the problem more people are having with social media. The ultimate tool to bring people together is in danger of disintegration because individuals are now realising that maybe they don’t want the whole World in their inbox. Many can’t form meaningful relationships in real life, and ultimately that matters far more than your virtual accomplishments.
I’m not alone in thinking this either: Mark Zuckerberg spoke to the BBC yesterday and vocalised many of the concerns that the more open-minded of us hold that creating a global community is being threatened by xenophobia, fear and distrust of our fellow man:
There are people around the world that feel left behind by globalisation and the rapid changes that have happened, and there are movements as a result to withdraw from some of that global connection.
Getting high profile personalities to mention specifics is, of course, never going to happen because the moment you do, that’s all that anybody else talks about for months (you just need to look at the US President for ample demonstration of that.) When Zuckerberg refers to ‘movements’ I find myself thinking about the F-word. That’s fascism, people, but by thinking thus I also excludes a whole spectrum of other extremist viewpoints, which are just as dangerous and exist on the far left of a political spectrum that doesn’t currently know it’s arse from a hole in the ground. Wherever you pitch your tent, these are difficult times we live in, and being able to communicate successfully is absolutely crucial going forward. Pretending all this isn’t happening is a coping strategy, I’ll grant you, but not the one I’m going to work with.
What bothers me most of all, at the end of all this, is people being honest. Not with me, although I’d love you to possess the balls to admit you left because I make too much noise, or that you don’t care, or that you think I’m wrong. That at least gives me an opportunity to say thank you, or argue to keep you around, or express disappointment that yet again, when presented with two options, you took the easy way. With the chaos around us all, and considering this is only the Internet, I don’t blame you for making a run for it, on reflection. The arsebiscuits have a reason for believing everybody is out to get them too, because in certain cases that’s spot on. If it’s easier to deflect attention away from yourself by being rude, but you don’t want to rock the boat or cause too much trouble because you’ll be labelled difficult? Newsflash, you’ll get caught out eventually. When you do, it might be time to ask the question: is it always other people who are the problem, or am I contributing?
Admitting you’re wrong is often the first step towards redemption.