Today’s blog post may cause me to lose some Facebook “friends”. I’ve decided that I’m okay with that, mostly because not being okay with it isn’t useful. It would be hypocritical for me to be upset with people who unfriend or block me on Facebook for expressing myself in an honest way. If I want to be free to express myself and have authentic reactions, then I should be willing to grant other people the same courtesy. Moreover, most of the people on my Facebook friends list aren’t actually my friends, anyway.
People have the right to feel any way they want to feel, and react the way they want to react. I try to be authentic as much as possible, even though I realize that not everyone likes me as my authentic self. I’ve always kind of marched to a different beat that not everyone understands or enjoys. It’s caused me problems my whole life. When I was a lot younger and less wise, I even tried to be different. It didn’t work out very well for me, nor did it last. So… at almost 51 years of age, I’ve come to realize that I am who I am. Take me or leave me. 😉
Two days ago, I wrote a blog post that apparently greatly offended someone who was a Facebook friend. I woke up this morning to see that she’s blocked me. She’s no longer a Facebook friend, but she is still married to my dad’s cousin, and they do occasionally go to our family events. I guess if I ever come home to another family reunion while we’re both still living, things may be awkward. Luckily for her, there’s a good chance I won’t bother going “home” again, anyway.
The post that my former Facebook friend was apparently offended by is this one…
I’m not going to rehash too much of the contents of that post, because as you can see, it has very few hits. I didn’t realize this person was a regular reader of my blog, although I did know that she might read what I wrote and get offended by it. I have a habit of sharing my links on my personal Facebook page– usually just once. And, as you can see, almost none of the now 382 people on my friends list clicked the link.
I guess I don’t blame her for apparently being offended by my post… but I suspect she doesn’t realize that the reason I wrote it, in the first place, was because I was a bit triggered by her comments to me. I simply needed to “unpack”.
I have written more than once that I often write blog posts about things that upset or trigger me. I blog here because the blog gets a lot fewer views than my Facebook page does, and that means the responses to my thoughts are generally much less contentious. I know it’s hard to believe, but I see posting in my blog as opposed to Facebook as a kindness. Most of the really popular posts on my blog are not about personal subjects, but on my thoughts about books, movies, or videos.
I am going to be very clear. I am not sorry for writing that post, although I do regret that my former Facebook friend was evidently offended by it. It’s never my intention to hurt people’s feelings or upset them. Writing is simply how I process things. It’s just a form of communication. It’s what I do.
I do realize that not everyone likes what I do. Some people would rather I stay quiet. That’s not my nature, though. I’m naturally an outspoken person, although I often tend to be even more outspoken in print. A real friend would know this about me and understand it on some level, even if they don’t always appreciate it. A real friend wouldn’t expect me to be someone different. That’s probably why I don’t actually have a lot of real friends… or maybe I’m just a worthless bitch. That could be true, too… :shrug:
I grew up in southern Virginia, which is a very southern place. I was taught from an early age that I should always be “nice” to people, even when they weren’t nice to me. I don’t think I learned this from my mom, though. My mom is a pretty blunt person. She knows how to be “nice”, but I’ve rarely ever seen her fake it with people. When she’s upset, she lets people know. That’s even more true today. She recently told me about how she ordered her dentist and his hygienist to “shut up”, because they were blathering about something annoying while working on her mouth. She got fed up with listening to them and literally told them to be quiet. I’ve never done that to my dentist, but maybe if I make it to my 80s, I might feel bold enough to tell him or her to shut up, too.
My dad was the one who encouraged me to keep quiet about how I felt. I think he expected me to look and behave like a proper southern lady. That’s not me, though. It’s not even his wife, who kind of looks the part of a demure southern lady, but really doesn’t act like it. I can remember him frequently chastising me for being too “honest” about my opinions. He was always allowed to say whatever he wanted, no matter how hurtful. But I was expected to shut up and keep sweet. It was quite toxic, so I don’t do that for anyone anymore.
A few days ago, I shared a post a Facebook friend had on her feed. I liked the message of the post, which was to remind people to keep their toxic body shaming comments to themselves. The post had a picture of an overweight woman in a bikini. My former Facebook friend thought it was a picture of me and said I looked “great”. It seemed to me that she’d completely missed the point of the post, which was that most people (especially strangers) just want to be left alone and don’t necessarily want any feedback on how they look. Adding insult to injury was that when I pointed out that the photo wasn’t of me, she laughed and said “oops” instead of simply apologizing for the mistake.
At the time I saw her responses to me, my authentic feelings could be described as annoyed and a bit hurt. However, I resisted the urge to react with anger on Facebook, even though that was how I honestly felt at the time. Unfortunately, I was still perturbed about it the next day.
On Sunday morning, I felt compelled to write about the incident on this blog. There was a lot of angst and personal stuff in the post, because I was being honest and trying to explain where that reaction comes from. Could it have been less “angry”? Yes, maybe… but then, it wouldn’t have been authentic. And, as you can see, very few people have read the damned thing, anyway. One of those five hits came from the person who inspired my post in the first place. That’s precisely why I wrote it in my blog instead of directly confronting the person on Facebook. But maybe, in retrospect, I should have called her out on social media for all of the rest of my 382 Facebook friends to see. Perhaps that would have seemed less “shady” to my “victim”.
Now… this isn’t the first time someone has told me, in so many or few words, that I shouldn’t write about something. In fact, I recently wrote about how former tenant tried to silence me on multiple occasions when she didn’t like something I wrote in my blog. She brazenly implied that I was “mean”, “crazy”, or a liar, and clearly never even considered my perspective. It was pretty poisonous stuff, especially since she was monitoring me and tattling to the landlady. If she didn’t like my content, she could have simply minded her own business and unfollowed, right?
Several years ago, I was inspired by a former Facebook friend who kept sharing quotes that were falsely attributed to George Carlin. My post wasn’t really even about my former “friend”; it was about the common practice of sharing falsely attributed quotes. His repeated fake George Carlin posts just gave me the idea for the topic.
But boy, you would have thought I’d insulted his mother or something. He very dramatically blocked me, after telling me off, then got all his redneck friends to stalk my blog for days. All it resulted in was extra AdSense pennies. If he’d been a real friend, he might have stopped and thought for a moment about what I wrote. Maybe he might have considered my perspective and determined whether or not what I wrote objectively made any sense, rather than simply reacting with a wounded ego.
In my opinion, that’s what an actual friend would do… because they’d want to understand and relate. He wasn’t a friend, though… not that I ever had expectations of a real friendship with that guy. I was just there to up his friend count. I do think it’s funny, though, that we “met” on a Web site called “Epinions.com”, and sharing opinions was what the site was all about. I guess it’s okay to share opinions as long as they’re always about someone or something else.
Now, I’ve evidently offended my cousin’s wife, who actually offended me first, by disingenuously saying that I looked “great” in a photo that wasn’t even of me. Then, when I pointed out the error, she “laughed” and said “oops”. When I further tried to explain my point about not being so focused on appearances, she still didn’t get it, and complimented me again. Since she didn’t even know the photo wasn’t of me, and wasn’t getting that I didn’t find her mistake funny, how can I take anything she says about my appearance seriously? And why is it even necessary to make those comments?
I certainly don’t mind hearing that I’m pretty or look young, but I would hope the compliments are sincere and aren’t just said to be “nice”. Because, as you can see, “niceness” can backfire spectacularly, and most of the time, there’s simply no need. I think it’s better to be kind than to be nice. There is a big difference between the two.
When I decided to process this situation through writing, which is something I commonly and regularly do on this blog, her response was to– apparently– get pissed and block me. That’s not much of a friendship, is it? She had claimed to be my friend, but chose to block me rather than have a simple conversation. I don’t think that is the action of someone who values a relationship. If she had ever actually cared about me as a friend, she would communicate with me. I did try to communicate with her before I wrote my little read blog post that evidently so upset her.
Although I always regret losing friends– or even “friends”– it seems to me that in many cases like this, when a “friendship” is suddenly lost over a Facebook or blog post that goes south, we were never really friends in the first place. And the more I age, the less time or patience I have for indulging people who aren’t interested in forming an authentic connection. The older I get, the more I realize that most people aren’t friends… at best, they’re acquaintances, with just the barest surface knowledge about the people who aren’t in their immediate orbit. Social conventions, especially in the South, have trained us all to act the part of a friend, even if it’s not genuine. It’s that whole “bless your heart” attitude…
If you’re not from the South, allow me to explain “bless your heart”. It sounds nice, and sometimes it really is meant that way. Say, for instance, if you’re a little kid and you fall and skin your knee, you might hear your Granny say “bless your heart” as she offers you a cookie and a kiss (although my Granny never did that to me).
However, a lot of the time, when you hear someone from the South saying “bless your heart”, what they really mean is that you should either be ashamed of yourself, or you’re just clueless or stupid. Instead of being straightforward when we communicate, we’re taught to “soften the blow” with fake platitudes like “bless your heart”. Women, especially, aren’t taught to be assertive and straightforward. Instead, we offer up heaping loads of bullshit to each other, and pretend it’s better than simply being “real”… and, by the way, being “real” isn’t akin to being rude or mean. Being real is about simply not being disingenuous.
I really tried to be more “nice” when I was younger, but it’s simply not in my nature. Trying to be superficially nice is, to me, like wearing shoes on the wrong feet. I do always try to be kind, but there’s a difference between being kind and being “nice”. And I’m afraid I’m not always “nice”. I’m definitely not “sweet”, either… and it kind of makes me cringe when someone says I am. Hey– if you know, you know! And if you’re calling me “sweet”, you definitely don’t know me very well. But then, maybe you’d rather not know me, if you want to be around someone who is sweet.
Living in Germany and Armenia, both places where people can be painfully blunt, has made me even less likely to indulge people who say “bless your heart” and lie to my face. I’ve come to realize that it’s a waste of time to adopt that style of communication, anyway. So many times, I’ve wasted time trying to be “friends” with someone who turns out to be full of shit. And then I’m left with the hurt and trauma of having wasted the effort… when they couldn’t even attempt to accept me for who I am, or try to see things from my perspective. And they’re always allowed to be offended, but I’m not.
I know that many people would tell me to process this crap by keeping it private, or by talking to Bill, or a friend. I don’t have local friends. Bill hears this stuff all the time, but he manages to love me anyway. And I think other people can relate, or might even be interested in the topic, so I write these posts for them. I know that a lot of people, for instance, are tired of being body shamed by strangers. They just want to be left in peace. That was really what the initial offending post was about, anyway.
Reading my blog is always a choice. I suspect that my cousin’s wife isn’t even a regular reader of this blog, but chose to read that post because of the featured photo, which offered a clue as to what the post would be about. She correctly realized it would be about that viral post of the woman in the bikini, and how she thought I was her.
As you can see by the tiny hit count on the above post that got me blocked by a family member, not that many people DO read my blog… just like few people read the posts they react and respond to on Facebook. More people read my Facebook page than this blog. I know most people would just let this stuff go without comment… but I’m not “most people”, just as you aren’t “most people”. We’re all individuals. I am me, and this is simply how I respond to things. If that’s upsetting to you, maybe it’s better that we’re not “friends”.
But don’t worry. I probably won’t be at the next family reunion, anyway. A lot of them don’t like me, either. 😉