Last night, I had a “fight” – I think – with a distant buddy of mine. I’m not sure what happened, exactly, except that I have the sense that I said something that was a bit insensitive, and it upset her. I think. She didn’t say anything, but that was notable: our conversation ended earlier, more abruptly, than it might otherwise have done. And there was no reply from her to my apologies this morning when I awoke.
That’s not all. When I woke up, what I did find was an anonymous comment on a post I had written on “Ethical Non-Monogamy.”
I hate nothing more than being lied to by someone who doesn’t want to harm me by potentially hurting my feelings. I’m feel harmed more by being lied to than by hearing the truth. It is unethical for you to decide what might or might not harm others.
It wasn’t clear to me the relationship between this comment and what I had written. Were the words about something I had done? something I had said? something I had written? Do I know the author of the words? But the immediately following comment, from the same person, was:
Also, all your OKCupid images violate their terms, have been reported and removed by their staff.
I went to my OKCupid profile (which has seen a flurry of interest in the last couple of days, for reasons I can’t know), and saw that the commenter had indeed succeeded in taking down four pictures.
These two things rattled me. First, the knowledge that I had acted in a way that upset someone I actually have gotten to know fairly well and come to care about, and second, the knowledge that, evidently, I had acted in a way that upset someone whose identity is unknown to me, and whom to the best of my knowledge, I don’t know.
I pondered this. My first impulse with regard to both was narcissistic: more than being upset about the pain I caused, I was upset at being perceived to have been wrong. This is sociopathic narcissism pure and simple: seeing the world through the lens of what it means for how I am perceived. And it’s a reflex I have. But in the end, it’s just a reflex. The moment I saw it, I recoiled, and I retreated to a more sensible position.
With regard to my distant buddy, I’m not saying more here. Suffice it to say, I need to make it right, and I’ll do my best to.
With regard to Mr./Ms. Anonymous Commenter, it’s a little more complex. It’s funny, though, how much it affects me to imagine that there’s someone – anyone – out there who’s aggrieved by me, by something I’ve done, or even written. The mere fact that this person wrote hostile words (and at first I thought they might not be hostile, that they might reflect agreement with what I had written, but subsequent actions and words have made it clear they are) – and not just hostile words, but hostile words that seem to reflect some personal injury, or sense of wrong – upsets me.
I don’t like the idea that I’ve made someone mad. What’s worse is that I think I agree with this commenter’s point of view. So that just leaves me confused. Did I do this to this person? Did I presume to know what might hurt or not hurt them?
This is part of what happens when you expose your words to the world: people react. And a blog uniquely gives readers the opportunity to respond, directly. It’s funny how invested I am in how people I don’t know respond to my words. But I am.
My day’s gone a bit sideways.