20 August, 2012


...how utterly unaware some people of themselves. Either in word, or in health. The ladies who haven't a clue they're pregnant despite a foot shape appearing on their swollen bellies. And the ones who shout down the walls, and cannot understand how they end up in a pile of rubble.

I'm talking about the shit-stirrers who cry "woe-is-me" when things go wrong.

Back in days of yore, I had an ArchNemesis™ whom we'll call Deidre Smith. Deidre was a self-serving bitch. Any idiot could see that Deidre was slimy, false and thinking only of themselves. Others agreed with me. Foolishly I ended up in a fight with Deidre via email. Deidre then edited my rant very carefully, and made a public website slagging me off. It was not pleasant. I was very lucky to have a friend with some legal knowledge who managed to scare Deidre into taking the site down and apologising in public. But I learned.

I learned that if you get into a fight with someone when you're angry, you might say things you don't mean - and people can reproduce them out-of-context to make you look terrible.

I learned that whether I was right or wrong, it felt terrible to be fighting, and awful in the days that followed.

Why are we all so focussed on standing up for our rights - that we forget to stand up for what's best for OURSELVES?

It's great to defend our rights. It's awesome to stick up for the little guy. But sometimes, just sometimes, self-preservation matters. If you're angry and excited and pumped up, ready to blast someone online, stop, and pay attention to your body. Recognise the signs for you - maybe you breathe heavily, grind your teeth, feel excited, maybe you shiver. Everyone's different, but pay attention. Learn to pick the signs.

Get and walk outside. That's not a silly euphemism, I'm serious. Count to ten. Close the window. Exercise some self-control and don't react. Come back to it in an hour, in a day, in a week. However long it takes you to calm yourself down and view it rationally. The internet will not collapse if you don't reply for 24 hours. In fact, (shock, horror) people will get on with their lives and probably not even know that you were angry.

And when it comes to any website - if people fight with you all the time - it's one of two things. Either it's a bad environment to be in, full of bullies, and it's time to find a better playground. Or else, it's related to the way you behave.

Maybe they got upset because they misinterpreted you. It happens. And it's OUR fault. It is nobody else's job to make ourselves clear. Even though we can't control their reactions, we can be careful how we speak. We can take the time to re-read our comments before we hit "post". We can try to make sure it doesn't upset someone on purpose. If someone does get upset, we can be the bigger man and apologise; really, it's no skin off our nose to say, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you." Consider that it's hard to understand tone on the internet.

Maybe it's time to change tack. This part sucks fairly royally. To finally join the dots and realise that it's NOT "everyone else being an asshole" - it's, unh, you overreacting to everyone. Examine your own attitudes.

Nobody likes to think of themselves as a bad person. We all think we're better than average drivers, lower than average weight, nicer than average people. Simple maths says it can't be true for everyone - we just don't like to find fault in ourselves.

BULLYING is when everyone goes after an innocent party.
RETALIATING is when everyone turns on someone who started it in the first place.

Learn the difference.

We have been so ANTI-BULLYING that we've all forgotten to take responsibility for our own behaviour. It is NOT always someone else's fault. They are NOT always picking on people and being bullies. Sometimes it's because you were a jerk. I don't care how politically-incorrect it is, it's true. We shouldn't wander around the internet being assholes and then crying when someone slaps us for it.

Yes, retaliating can be horrible. It can be way out of proportion. It can be unfair, and hurtful, and devastating. When it happens once it's depressing enough.

When it happens over and over, there is a common factor - and it's YOU. More specifically, the things you do which provoke it. Habits, behaviour. It doesn't make you a bad person. It only means you need to work on your communication.

Either stop provoking it, or move on to a greener pasture. Why stick around, provoking people again, and ask for more abuse? Is that the best thing for YOUR health?

LOOK AFTER YOURSELF! You can hardly do good for anyone else if you're ruining your own health...