mental health, poor judgment, psychology

When manipulators INSIST they’re being straightforward and honest…

A few days ago, I saw today’s featured photo on my social media feed. I decided to share it myself, mainly because I wanted to write a blog post about this phenomenon manipulative people use when they’re trying to get their way. Manipulative people try to frame your impression of them before they engage in manipulative behavior.

When I think about the people in my life who have turned out to be manipulative, I realize that they all seem to follow a pattern. At first, they’re super nice and flattering. Then, often at the beginning of a relationship, they tell you how “honest” they are. I remember very clearly, early on in a business relationship Bill and I had, our former associate told us how they didn’t care about money and wouldn’t look for money until at least a couple of days had passed the due date. This person tried to play themselves off as unconcerned about money. Instead, they stressed to us that they wanted us to be “happy”. I also remember hearing a pretty speech from them about how important “trust” is…

Later, when we had an issue that required bills to be paid, the person put all of the responsibility on us, even though the responsibility was actually not ours. I remember being told that they’d “never had a problem” like the one we were experiencing. I was invited to call other people and hear it from them. Something tells me that if I’d actually requested to make those phone calls, the manipulator would have been insulted… and they would have ultimately refused to give me the information, or had me call someone I suspect was a “flying monkey” type who was in cahoots with them.

As time went on, it became obvious that this person we were doing business with was neither trusting nor honest. I was blamed, personally, for everything that went wrong, and they went to great lengths to pass all responsibility to me, personally. We were subjected to guilt trips, insults, and devaluation. I remember it to be a very uncomfortable situation. Sadly, it ended with a lengthy legal battle that ultimately ended in our favor, but only after a lot of psychic pain and inconvenience.

That’s just one example. There have been others. In fact, just this morning, someone tried to manipulate me into doing something with which I’m uncomfortable. I don’t want to get into specifics because, frankly, I’m still a bit pissed about it. Long story short, this young guy sent me a PM late last night, asking me for help with a “fundraiser”. I don’t know this guy personally; he lives in another country, and he doesn’t speak English very well. I know of him because he’s the one who rescued Noyzi.

A couple of months ago, he asked me to help him share information about his dog rescue. I told him I would, once he had a Web site set up. I didn’t hear from him for weeks and forgot all about it.

Now, he seems to be saying that he wants me to set up a fundraiser for him. When I replied that I wasn’t comfortable doing that, he basically tried to guilt me using insults. He accused me of “playing games” with him and scolded me for saying I would help him and then declining to help. He insists that he’s not asking me to do anything dishonest, even though warning bells are going off in my head.

I explained to him that I had donated a lot of money when I adopted Noyzi. I gave money to help with vet care and food. I didn’t mind doing that, and I thought he was asking me to share information. But I don’t want to be in charge of setting up a fundraiser, collecting money, and sending it to him. I’m just not comfortable with that. Aside from that, it’s now Sunday, and I don’t want to spend my day setting up a fundraiser for a person I’ve never met in the flesh.

What’s more, before I realized he wanted me to set up a fundraiser for him, he sent me some screenshots of the Web site he has prepared, but hasn’t launched. I noticed a couple of typos. I asked him to fix them. He said he doesn’t have the password to the program he used to make the Web site. Then he told me to just share it as it is– very directive. He’s insistent that this must be done right now. When I demurred, he tried to make me feel bad, and implied that I wasn’t being fair and was reneging on a promise. This statement was meant to put me on the defensive. I don’t remember promising anything. I said I would help, but I never promised– and I certainly never agreed to do what he seems to be proposing.

Of course I want to be kind and helpful. I always prefer to be nice when I can. But I just became aware of all of this twelve hours ago. Now he’s pressuring me to help him with what seems like a sketchy proposal… just a little while ago, he brings up using Western Union. I finally decided to mute the conversation, because I just don’t feel comfortable with it. I quite clearly and firmly said “no”, but he’s still insisting, and has engaged in several manipulative tactics to get me to do what he wants, along with implying that I’m being “shady” because I am questioning what he’s asked me to do (which is still not altogether clear). It’s definitely not something I want to deal with on a Sunday morning… especially when the only thing I would get out of it is feeling like I did someone I don’t know very well a favor.

I am very grateful that he rescued Noyzi and has helped so many dogs. I would like to help him. But he’s come to me with a mess, and has insulted me to boot. Even if what he’s proposing is totally above board, I’m just not comfortable with it. Getting involved in these kinds of things can lead to big trouble if one isn’t careful. Or, at the very least, it can become a real hassle.

It’s interesting that this situation came up last night. I saved today’s featured photo two or three days ago, with no idea that this morning, I would be reading it and realizing that I’d be dealing with manipulative tactics this morning. I think most of us are manipulative sometimes… it’s part of being human. Some people take it to an art form. I don’t know this person well enough to know if he’s a manipulator or not, but I didn’t like his tactics this morning.

I just read a great article about characteristics of manipulators. Many of the signs in that list are familiar. Follow the link to have a look for yourself.

Maybe now he thinks I’m a bitch. He wouldn’t be the first. This is just one more reason why I hate Facebook Messenger… it’s so often the source of angst.

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complaints, rants, social media

Why do people do this?

It’s Friday afternoon, and Bill is leaving town for three weeks starting tomorrow morning. I’m not in a great mood, because I’m about to have a pretty solitary experience for the next 21 days. I hate these marathon business trips Bill has to take, even though I’m grateful he has a job. Germany is still locked down, so this isn’t a pleasure trip in any sense. It still sucks, and puts me in a crappy mood.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of spam messages on Facebook. Frankly, I’d like to get rid of Messenger altogether because, 90% of the time, people who contact me are folks I don’t want to hear from. They’re either strangers, or they’re “friends” who send me jokes, memes, and videos. I always wonder why my friends can’t simply put this shit on their own timelines, especially when whatever they’ve sent isn’t all that offensive.

As for the spammers, a lot of times, it’s creepy people who are looking for cybersex or money. I’ve posted about that before, so I won’t get into that phenomenon today. And, in the past, I’ve also posted about the other kind of unwanted PMs– the ones that, nine times out of ten, come from disgruntled males who feel entitled to send private messages to perfect strangers with whom they disagree.

This may seem like a petty thing to a lot of readers. I will admit, many times it is a petty thing, because these guys are usually too simple-minded and chicken to have an exchange in public and want to take their abuse private. For instance, a few years ago, I got a private message from a guy who invited me to kill myself because he didn’t like my opinions about abortion. This guy was someone I didn’t know at all, and frankly, he wasn’t a big thinker. Why would someone who claims to be pro-life invite someone to commit suicide? What an asshole! What made matters worse is that Facebook could do “nothing” about that, but they could “warn” me for posting about a racist game they kept sending me ads for.

Why is this concept so difficult?

Last night, I read a charming article on The New York Times about senior citizens who have found love during the pandemic. Accompanying the article was a photo of a very elderly couple. The man, Sam Gallo, was 91 years old. The woman, Millie Hathorn, was 86. Both wore face masks as they got married. They met at their retirement home, St. James Place, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and were engaged in March 2020. Their wedding took place August 5, 2020.

It was a sweet story, and one that was very hopeful. However, as we know, some people like to shit on other people, and have to criticize. There was a guy who noticed that Millie’s face mask had slipped beneath her nose. She dared to allow that photo to be published in an international newspaper. And this random Facebook jackass made some comment about how Millie’s improper face mask wearing was going to send her to an “early grave”.

I was a bit gobsmacked by the guy’s comment. I mean, these folks have already lived a normal life span. Millie is 86. Sam is 91. They aren’t going to be going to an “early” grave, regardless of what kills them. They aren’t teenagers, or even middle-aged. And they sure as hell didn’t need to be chastised by some busybody guy who feels the need to confront others about how they wear their mask on camera. I made a comment to that effect. Next thing I know, I’ve got a spam message from this guy who chewed me out, telling me that a death from COVID-19 is a premature death and calling me “stupid”. Of course he blocked me, so I couldn’t respond.

I don’t expect that “Adam” will ever read this post. I feel compelled to write it anyway, though, for anyone who happens to engage in this regrettable practice. First off, you are automatically the ASSHOLE if you send someone– especially a stranger– a private message uninvited, particularly if it’s full of profanity and insults, and doubly so if you invite them to commit suicide. Adam didn’t invite me to commit suicide, but he did invade my PMs and insult me, someone he doesn’t even know. It’s lame to be doing that. At best, you’re basically a gutless worm. At worst, you’re a perverted creep. So allow this to be my social media etiquette PSA to everyone. Grow a set, and keep your rebuttals public. Don’t send anyone a PM unless you know you’re welcome to do so. And if you do send a PM to a stranger, have the decency to welcome a response. Otherwise, you’re nothing but a coward and you’ve automatically LOST the argument, because you don’t have the guts to stand your ground.

I know that writing this post won’t stop this practice. I just feel like venting because I’m really irritated and frustrated. The next three weeks are going to suck. And to anyone who wants to leave me a comment about how thin skinned I am and how I need to “get over” the comments, kindly zip it. If you don’t like it, my opinion, or me personally, you can simply do what the above photo suggests. Problem solved. 😉

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social media

You can go now…

We had a pretty dull long weekend. Bill had Friday off because of the Fourth of July, but we didn’t end up doing anything special, despite Bill’s best efforts to get me out of the house. However, I did have a good guitar day yesterday, which I wrote about on my travel blog. My travel blog, by the way, is going to wake up again soon, because I have booked a short trip that starts in eleven days. We will spend three nights in the Eifel region of the Mosel Valley, which is about a two hour drive from where we live. There’s a lot of stuff to do outdoors, so I think we’ll be busy, especially if the weather is good. Bill has been a good sport about my stubborn refusal to venture out, although I think he’s feeling kind of tense.

I’ve mostly been trying to stay out of trouble on social media, although I’m still thinking that it may be time to move on from it. Last night, Red Peters, a hilarious comedian who writes and sings funny songs and promotes the songs done by other people, got really pissed off by one of Facebook’s recent censorship policies. He says he’s going to get off of Facebook by September 1st. I can’t blame him, as I was also recently wrist slapped by Facebook over something really stupid. Maybe I’ll follow suit… or maybe not. But one thing is for certain. Facebook may be a way to keep in touch with friends and family, but it’s also the source of a whole lot of annoyances.

Take, for instance, a recent trend I’ve noticed. Sometimes my “friends” send me private messages. The messages are almost never about anything important. They’re often videos or memes that, for whatever reason, they don’t want to post on their own page, and sometimes they send them without comment. Or they put them on their page, but they also send them via PM to their friends. Personally, I don’t like this practice. I understand that some people do it because it’s something obnoxious or controversial and they only want to share it with people who will appreciate it and not start a shit storm. I get that, and I do have a couple of friends who are very civilized, but have a good sense of humor and they know I’ll think something’s funny and even share it for them.

But– I also sometimes get these PMs from people I don’t know that well and/or engage with often. Sometimes, they’re the annoying “pass it on” posts– you know, like the ones that tell you to post what color your bra is (I rarely wear them anymore unless I’m going out). It’s supposed to be for breast cancer awareness, but it’s really just a stupid timewaster that doesn’t really do anything more than irritate people. Below is an excerpt about the bra campaign from a book entitled Online Activism: Social Change Through Social Media:

Yes, I got these messages. No, I did not participate.

Sometimes they’re just memes or videos sent without comment. If the sender is someone I know well and/or have engaged with more than a couple of times, I may have an inkling as to why they sent the message. Maybe I’ll even care enough to ask them. I still think it’s an irritating practice to PM these things, mainly because I think private messages should be reserved for items that really should be kept private and are actually important. Memes and videos don’t generally fall into those categories. Still, I’m more willing to cut more slack to people I know than people I don’t.

Last night, someone sent me this meme without comment:

How should I take this?

The person who sent this is a nurse. We “met” on a site for second wives and stepmothers, and there was a time when we interacted frequently. She lives far away from me, even when I’m stateside, so we have never met offline. Lately, we haven’t been chatting much at all. So last night, when I got a PM from her out of the blue, and it turned out to be the above image, I wasn’t sure how to take it. I’ve repeatedly stated that I’m not on the mask bandwagon. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t comply with the rules, nor does it mean that I don’t take the pandemic seriously. I SIMPLY STAY AT HOME. While I go many days between mask wearings, I also don’t go to places where I encounter people who could be adversely affected by my germs. On the rare occasions when I do go out, I follow the rules. I just don’t like or agree with them. Fair enough?

Lots of people disagree with me about the masks, and that’s fine. I figure that if I’m mostly staying at home, I’m probably doing more than they are to flatten the curve, anyway. The world doesn’t need me to preach about face masks. Plenty of people are already doing that repeatedly and annoyingly. I don’t need to add my voice to the cacophony. I don’t need to cheerlead about the masks, even if they do help slow the spread of the virus. They still suck. Nothing about wearing a mask is fun, and most people have the right and ability to make up their own minds about them. They don’t need my help any more than I need theirs.

Because there was no comment with my friend’s “meme”, and I have no idea if this person has been paying attention to my social media, I wondered if she thought I would like the meme, or if it was a dig. I suppose I could have responded to her. Maybe that would have been the right thing to do. Ultimately, I decided that the face mask meme wasn’t something I care that much about, so I didn’t comment. But since this is a common practice– for people to send unimportant stuff via PM without comment– I decided to ask my Facebook friends why people do it. I don’t PM people unless I have something important to tell them privately, but people PM me all the time. I try to be tolerant, but I must admit I get annoyed, and I just wanted to understand the rationale behind the PM blitzing. Some of my “regular” friends were having a nice discussion with me, with a few people agreeing with me that this is an annoying practice.

And then, I got a message from someone else I “met” on the same site for second wives and stepmothers. This person, who is now no longer a friend, probably interacted with me more often than the person who sent the meme, but we still didn’t talk much. When we did regularly used to communicate some years ago, we often disagreed.

For instance, she didn’t like that I was vocal about my disdain for Mormonism. She said it was “disrespectful”, although she isn’t herself LDS. I disagreed, since the LDS church was successfully used as a weapon against Bill’s relationship with his children, and that’s a problem that affects many people. She felt that I shouldn’t say out loud that I don’t like Mormonism, out of respect to a Mormon woman who was also in our group. The Mormon woman, by the way, was more than capable of sticking up for herself and her religion, and she did so vehemently and consistently. Besides, I felt that the purpose of the group was to discuss these issues and how they affect “steplife”. Like it or not, a highly controlling lifestyle religion like Mormonism does affect things, particularly when not everyone involved is LDS. But this now former friend felt I was out of line to bring it up, or she felt the way I brought it up was unkind. She had no trouble telling me so, even though it didn’t really change my opinion or behavior. She didn’t seem too interested in seeing my perspective, either.

Anyway, beyond that squabbling, which we hadn’t been doing in recent years, we rarely had much to say to each other, especially currently. Neither of us has a lot of steplife drama anymore. But she still felt the need to add her two cents to last night’s discussion.

She posted: Man, I never wanted to PM unexplained memes so badly in my life….

Again…. not really sure how to take this. So I posted that I would like to turn off the PM function entirely, or make it for certain people, to which she responded with a “laughing” reaction. At that point, I assumed that she was making a passive aggressive dig and trying to stir up shit. I figured that if she has something to say to me, but can’t be bothered to just say it, we probably aren’t really friends. Since I didn’t know how to take her comments, we were never close, and I don’t remember ever being particularly close to her even when we did used to frequently communicate, I decided to delete her.

I felt badly about it for a minute, because I grew up at a time when friends were people you knew face to face, and “unfriending” someone was a serious thing. But back then, being friends with someone was also a more serious thing; that’s why we mostly tended to have fewer of them then than we do now, in the age of social media.

As I recently wrote in a post, I’m getting to a point in my life at which I value quality over quantity. A lot of people don’t like me. Many people decide they don’t like me having never taken the time to get to know me. That’s up to them, of course, and I’ve gotten used to it. I still have some great people in my life who do love me for who I am and don’t mind that I speak my mind. We treat each other with basic respect and give each other the right to be heard. We don’t try to stir up drama on each other’s social media accounts or offline. And when we have something to say, we say it. We don’t do immature passive aggressive digs or make fun of each other. Those aren’t things a real friend does.

I’ve spent most of my life being discounted, belittled, berated, ignored and crapped on by people who don’t have any respect for me, some of whom were supposedly “loved ones”. Right now, things are stressful enough as it is. I figure at this point in my life, I don’t have to tolerate it anymore, especially from people I barely know. And, like I said, I’m getting pretty tired of Facebook, anyway. Maybe after we get our next dog, I’ll ditch it once and for all. Dogs are better and more genuine friends than most people are, anyway.

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complaints

Facebook and its moronic “spam” policies…

It’s Friday, which means Mr. Bill is coming home today. He’s been away all week while I’ve been languishing alone. Well, I haven’t been languishing that much… The truth is, this house is pretty comfortable. I even had a nice fire going in the fireplace last night and managed not to burn down the house. I mean, I don’t know how to use the toilet properly and I’m bad with awnings… and I’m a filthy, irresponsible, negligent person. And yet, I enjoyed a very beautiful fire last night, managed to make myself dinner, and am still here to write the tale this morning. Yea for me! I guess I’m finally growing up at age 47. /sarcasm. I’m not dressed yet, though. Nobody’s perfect.

I’ve spent the week reading, working a jigsaw puzzle, taking care of Arran, writing, and making music. The other day, I made a nice recording of a song Alison Krauss recorded with the Cox Family back in 1994. Granted, I’m not Alison Krauss or a member of the Cox Family, but I do alright. Every once in awhile, I share my SingSnap or YouTube stuff on Facebook. Until fairly recently, that was fine. But then Facebook changed its policies again… or its algorithms, or something. At about 10:00pm, I got a message from Facebook that my SingSnap link had been marked as spam and was being made invisible.

Now… when this happens, you can ask Facebook for a review. That means getting a human being to look and decide if what you’ve posted really goes “against community standards”. It can take forever for this… In fact, I have a couple of posts from months ago that are still “in review”. I’ve given up on them and no longer care. I did request that they review the SingSnap post, but I don’t have high hopes about it. Besides, by the time they make the post visible again, it will be off the radar anyway. Edited to add: as of 9:00am this morning, it’s back up on my page. Thanks, Facebook. But I’m still pissed off at you.

It’s not really that big of a deal to me that they hid that particular post. I mainly post the links for the few people who enjoy what I do musically. Most people don’t care about my musical pursuits and will never check out the link, either because they think I’ll suck, or they know I don’t suck and feel jealous. That may seem like a very narcissistic thing to say, but the fact is I really am a pretty good singer. I’ve been told by many people that I am– not just by my mom, who is herself a good musician, but by multiple voice teachers, professional musicians, and even Joan Jett’s manager (met her on a cruise and she wondered if I was in the music biz). Don’t ask me to do math, conjugate Latin verbs, or shoot hoops, but if you need a pretty song, I can deliver. Making music helps prevent me from getting depressed. Not everyone likes what I do, and that certainly includes writing and singing. But what good is making recordings or writing blog posts if I don’t share them with others? People can always choose whether or not they want to read or listen. I don’t hold a gun to anyone, demanding that they pay attention to what I do.

So anyway, I shared this one song out of several I did this week. It was up for over twelve hours before Facebook wiped it out, claiming it was “spam”. I went on SingSnap and discovered I wasn’t the only one whose song got schwacked. One user says it’s because SingSnap needs to upgrade its security protocols or something. Some people have posted that the songs were reposted. Eh… I don’t even really care if mine gets reposted. I’m more annoyed by the arbitrary and inconsistent way Facebook handles its business. They seem to shoot first and ask questions later. You never know what they’ll take aim at, so it’s impossible to be forewarned.

Seriously… I get annoying ads all day long for the same stupid products, like this…

You’ve no doubt seen this yourself… or something like it. Worthless crap that no one needs. I guess they boosted this post, though. Maybe if I boosted my posts, Facebook wouldn’t call them “spam”.

Or I get unwelcome private messages from spammers, sleazy scam artists, or complete strangers who are pissed off about my comments on news sites, like the guy who, last year, called me a “fat murderous cunt” and invited me to “go die”. I wonder if “Jason” felt better inviting me to “go die” as he championed the rights of the unborn… Does he realize that I was once someone’s unborn baby?

Why thank you, Jason, for giving us “fat murderous CUNTS” reasons to cheer for abortion… Too bad your mama didn’t have one.

I reported Jason’s private message to Facebook and got this response:

Wow… that’s helpful.

Facebook could not do anything about Jason’s offensive and completely uninvited and uncalled for private message. But they can arbitrarily hide SingSnap songs without any warning or due process, and accuse the uploaders of “violating community standards”. Are they really telling me that my version of “Walk Over God’s Heaven” is more offensive than some yahoo inviting me to kill myself and calling me a “fat murderous cunt”?

This isn’t the only time I’ve gotten “slapped” by Facebook over something really stupid. I follow a page called Middle Age Riot. The person who runs that page almost always posts funny anti-Trump stuff. That’s why I follow the page. A couple of weeks ago, I shared something s/he posted and hours later, came back to my computer to find my whole screen covered with a message from Facebook telling me I’d shared something that “violated community standards” and asking me to review their policies. Now… first of all, I wasn’t even sure what they’d removed. It took several minutes of recall just to realize that it must have been Middle Age Riot’s post about Trump. Then I wondered which “community standard” I had violated by sharing that post. They didn’t specify.

I mean… people share horrible pictures of slaughtered animals, cruel memes, ghastly injuries, and all manner of offensive and obnoxious commentary. I share a post from a popular humor page, and I’ve “violated community standards”. Seems to me that if they want “offensive” behavior to stop, they need to be clearer about their expectations, develop simple, easy to follow, remember, and enforce rules, and stop fixing things that ain’t broken.

I’ve long thought that Facebook is turning the world into a weird dystopia, where people lose the ability to communicate and need to have a third “minder” moderating their communications. It’s a bit creepy. I’m beginning to think that maybe it might be time to move on from Facebook. It might make my life more peaceful. I would miss some of my friends, including those whom I only know via Facebook. On the other hand, a lot of those people I met before Facebook existed on those old fashioned “messageboards” people used to frequent back in the day. Facebook also provides me with stuff to write about, which keeps me occupied… although it doesn’t necessarily keep me out of “trouble”.

Well… at least Facebook gave me an interesting topic for this morning. Bill should be on his way home in a matter of hours. We will enjoy tonight, then go to Frankfurt tomorrow to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. Sunday, we’re off to Poland for the week. Bill will be working, and I will be… doing something else… hopefully staying out of trouble and/or pain. Hey, at least we’ll be in a hotel where I can get a massage if my back starts giving me major trouble.

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