I need to write something out of my system because it just happened and I can feel the emotional claws of upset raking through my heart and mind about it. I don’t want to live with that sensation all day so I am resorting to my number one emotional cleanser: writing.
Long story (kind of) short:
I replied to a Facebook post and immediately after I did someone else commented, aggressively, that I was a “liar” and continued to berate me in a very righteous, condescending manner (all for the fact that I didn’t provide a link to back up what I said). I knew what I said was not a lie, and I never intended to lie or have done so with any malicious intent.
Being the open minded person I am I thought, “Well, maybe I did say something incorrect? Let me re-read my post and see it through his eyes.” To their credit, I found, they were right in some of their accusations. I had indeed gotten my wires crossed and said some incorrect things, but not out of a place of deception, but out of simple confusion. I had confused what was being discussed in the post with something else very similar. It was a simple case of miscommunication and confusion, but instead of him calmly pointing out that I might be incorrect and then asking me for further clarification on my point, the first line in his comment was “YOU ARE A LIAR!”
Viscerally, immediately, I felt attacked. Being the sensitive lightning rod for human emotion that I am, I felt tears fill my eyes. I felt emotion swell up in me. Not out of anger. Not out of fear. I felt emotion come up in me from a place of sadness. There is so much anger in the world right now. So many people arguing and disagreeing and fighting and shouting. It’s all so much. To be reprimanded there on Facebook, so publicly, so brutally, for something I didn’t even do just reminded me of how prevalent a problem this is. People are so reactive and intense, for no need.
I re-read the post and then crafted my reply. I gently told him that this kind of emotionally intense, aggressive calling-out is adding to the problem, not solving it. If his issue with my post was that he wanted a link, why couldn’t have he just calmly asked for the link with some genuine curiosity? Even if he indeed thought I was lying, couldn’t he have calmly and civilly said something like “I’m sorry, I don’t think what you said is correct. Can you clarify or provide some links to validate your argument?”
I gave him credit where credit was due. I acknowledged the faults in my post. I re-worded and clarified the points that had been misinterpreted. I pointed out that on top of the simple mistakes I had made, there was also the issue of sarcasm being woefully misinterpreted via the written word. He had misinterpreted something I meant sarcastically as something intended seriously. This lack of understanding the humor plus my genuine mistake of speaking about the wrong thing had all led to his reaction.
I am sensitive to emotion, to words, to people, to the life around me, so this experience really rattled me. It rattled me that I had said something “incorrect”. It rattled me that my simple, honest mistake had been met with such malice. The tears that came to my eyes were tears of grief over the death of civil discourse in our society. “How are we to solve the problems in our world if this is how people choose to react and communicate?” I said to him as my final thought.
It’s so stupid, so petty that this is the kind of thing is going on in the world. Strangers lashing out at other strangers on line. I can guarantee that if that man and I were to meet in person and talk this out we would find common ground and likely have a great conversation, but there is something bleak, dark and almost evil about the anonymity of the internet that unleashes an unbridled rage in people. All I can do at this point is hope that he reads my answer, and the other people involved in that post see my response as well and appreciate that I genuinely made a mistake, to which I fully owned up to.
Being a lover of writing, of the beauty of words and communication, I want to be a pillar for a future of constructive, civil discourse. There are contrasting opinions and ever changing information in the world but there is no way we can navigate through it and find harmony unless we foster peaceful discussions. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to live in a world where people could disagree on big topics but still have respect for one another as human beings?
“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” – That old quote needs to be the world’s national anthem right now.
If you have read this whole post and have similar story, or can relate to this experience, let me know what you think!
PS: I feel 150% better after writing this, thank you.