Fair warning… for many people, this is going to be a really petty rant. Some readers will doubtlessly think it’s much ado about nothing, or that I’m being childish or silly. It’s fine to think that, but just so you know, I really don’t need to be corrected. I understand that the more mature beings in the world will probably think I should be posting about world peace or another lofty topic. And maybe that’s true… but it’s not what’s on my mind today. I’m often petty, obnoxious, and easily annoyed… but I own those characteristics. They’re part of what makes me “me”. I grew up with the message that who I am isn’t okay… and now that I’m 50, and realize that I won’t ever be changing. I’m working on living with myself. But you don’t have to live with me, so if I write something today that makes you think I need “correction”, “advice”, or anything else remotely resembling “special help”, I would like to encourage you to go write about it on your own blog and leave mine alone. 😉
So here’s what happened…
Yesterday, I was on the Duggar Family News page on Facebook. The page’s moderator posted about the Duggar Family’s annual Christmas celebration. A few days ago, I had noticed how extremely cute John David and Abbie Duggar’s daughter, Gracie, is. I even wrote about it in a recent post. It’s not that I don’t think all of the other Duggar grandchildren are cute. I just think Gracie is at a really sweet and expressive age, and she obviously mugs for the camera. She is especially adorable right now, in my opinion.
So I typed under the picture, “Gracie is so adorable”, or something along those lines. Nice, positive, kind comment for a child who probably can’t read, and wouldn’t be on that page, anyway, right? Several others agreed with me and signaled by hitting the “like” button. I didn’t mention her brother, Charlie, who is a beautiful baby, but to me, not as obviously cute as his big sister is. When he’s older, I’m sure he will give her a run for her money. Besides, everybody gushes over babies.
Early this morning, I opened up Facebook and noticed that I had a notification from someone I don’t know. Usually, one can tell what Facebook notifications are in reference to, but in this case, there wasn’t a clue. I had forgotten about the Duggar Family News post I’d made, and never thought it would be controversial. But there it was… Someone named Donna tagged me with the comment, “So is Charlie.”
What am I to make of this comment? It would be one thing if she’d just posted it without tagging me, making it clear that she was expressing her own opinion and not criticizing my comment. But she responded in a way that made it very likely that I would see her comment. And while I can’t be absolutely certain, since she’s a total stranger and I didn’t have any non-verbal cues to offer a hint, my guess is that her comment was meant to be pointed. How dare I comment on one child’s cuteness in a photo, and not the other child’s “equally” adorable visage? What is Charlie? Chopped liver? Give the lad a participation trophy, at least. Give me a break… he’s a BABY, and he’s not reading that page. I am sure his feelings won’t be hurt.
I’ll be honest. My first instinct was to respond to Donna with snark and sarcasm, because that seemingly corrective comment legitimately pissed me off. I know a lot of people would laugh about that “over-the-top” reaction, too… which makes it even worse. Because this was a genuine reaction I had to something that, in the grand scheme of things, really doesn’t matter. It’s just some busybody feeling the need to correct a perfect stranger’s innocuous opinions on Facebook, right? I have no idea why my comment triggered her enough to tag me with a response. For all I know, she’s just as irritated as I am. We all have our hot buttons.
There was a time when, indeed, I would have dashed off an inflammatory response to Donna. But middle age, years of psychotherapy, social work training, and the fact that I hadn’t been drinking, collectively gave me the gift of restraint and composure. I took a moment to consider if I wanted to make an actual reply, or even just leave a “laugh react” or “anger emoji”.
I very quickly decided that I didn’t really want to get into it with Donna over such a non-issue. I figured any response I would make would simply make me look bad, even though her comment was unnecessary and kind of disrespectful. So I deleted the notification and didn’t respond to Donna’s “correction”… at least not on Facebook. I’m sure she means well, but I don’t really want to get in a pissing match with some “biddy” I don’t know. Especially over something so inconsequential and… well, petty.
Since this incident has made me think for longer than a moment or two, I’ve decided to write about it today. Maybe other people can relate. I do feel slightly self-congratulatory for not taking Donna’s bait. I scored a “little victory” with that one, even if I am now posting mental spew in my blog. 😉 Fewer people read my blog than my Facebook page, though.
If I had been in a more engaging mood, how could I have best responded to Donna? I thought about it as I drank one of Bill’s expertly brewed cups of coffee, fixed just the way I like it. What can I say? My husband is truly wonderful. So let’s see…
There’s the positive approach. I could have acknowledged Donna’s “correction”, either in a sincere and apologetic fashion, or in an over-the-top, sickly sweet, passive-aggressive way…
- “Of course, Charlie is cute, Donna. Thank you for the correction. May I have another?”
- “Yes, he sure is scrumptious, Donna. Shame on me for not acknowledging it properly.”
- “Oh, I’m sorry for the oversight. I’m such an ignorant clod. Charlie is also adorable.”
- “Whatever would we do without you, Donna, to keep us straight when we comment on the Duggar grandchildren? We wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings… even if they can’t yet read, and wouldn’t be on this page, anyway.”
- Or… just a plain old “Yes, you’re right, Donna. He is cute.”
Or, there’s the negative, confrontational, unfriendly approach…
- “Speak for yourself, Donna. I don’t need your help.”
- “Why did you feel the need to tag me, Donna? You think he’s cute? Good for you.”
- “STFU, Donna.” Or my personal favorite, “Oh fuck off, Donna!”
- “Trying to make yourself feel useful, Donna? Glad I could help you out.”
- “Actually, I don’t really think he’s adorable. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.”
Or I could have been really passive-aggressive and just laughed, posted a “?”,… or used an obnoxious rolling eyes GIF to get my point across to her.
But as I had just opened my eyes, I didn’t feel the need to engage. I didn’t want to spend precious energy… especially since Donna is probably sleeping right now, anyway. I get the sense that she’s the kind of person who would wake up in a few hours, see my comment, and feel the need to “set me straight”. And then, hours after I was over it, I’d be invited to an online melee, which probably would have included other people who don’t know either of us. Life is too short for that shit. You gotta pick your battles, if you want to stay sane in this world.
On the other hand, maybe posting a “?” and inviting her to explain herself would be satisfying on some level… but I don’t like to be deliberately obtuse. I think I know what she meant by her comment. She was just “fixin’ it for me”… the petty bitch… tryin’ to hook me into a scuffle. 😉
I guess I’m just left kind of puzzled, though. Once again, a perfect stranger is looking at my innocuous communication from a seemingly negative, corrective way– like the people in my wine group who insinuated that I’m a “Karen” because I had the “audacity” to complain about a legitimately bad experience we had in a wine shop in France. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to be negative, but I don’t think our culture likes to admit it anymore. If you aren’t “positive” and inclusive all the time, you’re a problem, and need correction from others.
Then, there’s my dysfunctional, reptilian response to Donna’s “correction”. It comes from a lifetime of being the youngest child in a family where my presence wasn’t really welcomed or valued. For most of my youngest years, I was repeatedly criticized, corrected, and told, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn’t making the grade. I’m sure if I were to point this out to my family members, they would deny it… and again, that would be a perfect example of the problem. Because even if, in their minds, they weren’t overly critical of me, that was the message I constantly received and internalized. And now it’s a trigger, because I have come to realize that I do have worth, and my opinions matter to someone– even if it’s only me… and maybe Bill.
When someone leaves what appears to be “correction” for me, especially when it’s on something that is really innocuous, or of little actual consequence, I have a tendency to get very annoyed. I’m not referring to “constructive criticism”. Sometimes criticism is necessary for growth, for safety, or to become proficient in something. That kind of criticism is much less irritating to me. No, it’s petty criticism over things that don’t really matter that bugs me the most. Nobody likes to have their opinions corrected, especially on a “public” forum like Facebook. No one likes it when some smartass on Facebook posts, “Fixed it for ya!” in response to something they’ve written. It’s just diminishing, discounting behavior that is meant to make people feel small. And while getting annoyed over that behavior is legitimate, it’s also doubly bad to express that irritation, because that is, in and of itself, PETTY behavior. It really should not be worthy of any response whatsoever, but yet, I still feel compelled to express all of this so early in the morning. 😉 I’m sure a good therapist could help me figure this out, sometime.
There’s one other observation I would like to make. I was quite agitated about Donna’s comment when I got up, but by the time I’d finished breakfast and was draining my second cup of coffee, I had almost forgotten about it. If it weren’t for a silly exchange I had with my cousin regarding this incident, I probably would be posting about something more hard hitting and consequential today. 😉 See? It really doesn’t matter at all… It’s a minor blip in the day, now forever immortalized in my blog. And now I can smile and hold my head high, as I fold laundry and change the sheets on my bed… two chores that do need attending to, and will actually matter in my life.
So… not today, Donna. I’m not taking the bait and getting into a ridiculous online pissing match with you. I don’t agree with you, because I do think Gracie is cuter than Charlie is, at least right now. I don’t need you to correct my post, and I’m not going to validate your correction with any direct response– negative or positive– that gives you the opportunity to engage further with me and attempt to make me feel bad about myself. I am going to ignore you (except, of course, in my blog, which is not for you). Find someone else to play with. 😀
Off to go tend to my chores now… Have a great Tuesday, y’all.