- 4 months ago
- Wedding: August 2019
I made a post here yesterday while struggling with a very difficult situation.
I recognize that in my emotional state, I didn’t really read through the post and consider what was said or missing that may have left the wrong impression. I basically word vomited into a post and clicked submit. I’ve been using this site for a while now under a different username and it hadn’t even crossed my mind for a second that the bees would be anything less than supportive. I was very wrong.
Several of the responses were a bit jarring but made sense and I could see very quickly why the post garnered those reactions. I further clarified what was going on in my head and some chose to take the understanding route and give me genuine advice and support. Others latched onto what they viewed as wrong about my original post and continued to engage in a narrative that painted me as a terrible person who prioritizes work over my fiance.
I’d like to pretend words on the internet don’t hurt, but I’d be lying. I was already hurting, already emotional, and it felt awful to in the midst of all that become a target of anger and criticism. I truly was not prepared for it and it made an already difficult, stressful and emotional day worse. As someone who struggles deeply with self-criticism, it was hard not to take this stuff personally as well and suddenly start questioning if I truly am a terrible person, even though I know full well that I am not and that I am a good, loving and supportive partner.
I was left feeling like garbage all because I had not been able to adequately explain my thoughts and feelings when I desperately reached out for support. All because I was clumsy with how I chose to frame my question. All because I didn’t even know what question to ask or where to even start and all I knew was I was in a difficult situation made even more stressful by a logistical nightmare. But the more I tried to explain, the more it came off as excuses and backtracking to those who had determined from the start that I did not want to be there for my fiance and preferred to choose work over him and wanted validation for that. Once they had made up their minds about that, there was no changing it because everything I said was interpreted through that lens.
I’m not making this post to try to start drama or to call any particular users out, though I recognize that it is likely to come off that way to some. What I want is to just ask everyone to please, before you respond to a post to which you feel a knee-jerk, visceral reaction, just take a moment to consider that how someone initially comes off in a confused and rambling post may not tell you the whole story, and that they may very well be in a great deal of distress.
I’m just asking you to, when you feel the urge to immediately chastise someone, consider taking a second to simply clarify their intent first. Rather than just assume they are a terrible person, assume they are a person who is hurting and respond accordingly. And even if you feel you have very good reasons to assume negative things about them, consider whether your response is helpful. Try to put yourself in their position, with the assumption they are a hurting person legitimately seeking help, and think about how it might feel to be on the receiving end of what you write.
Even if you believe someone is wrong, take the time to explain why and to clarify what is really going on with them. If your only contribution to the conversation is “OMG as if you would even CONSIDER that! I would NEVER!” that isn’t helpful. Responses like that serve absolutely no purpose other than to inflate your own sense of self-righteousness. It’s a natural tendency and I’m not going to pretend I don’t ever do the same thing because of course I do, I’m human. I’m just saying that it would be better for this site and everyone using it if we strived to be a little more conscious in our responses, avoid engaging in knee-jerk responses, and instead taking a moment to evaluate whether our responses are helpful or hurtful before clicking “add”.
The lesson learned on my part was that when I am experiencing extreme, acute emotional distress, it is a bad idea to post about it looking for support and advice before giving myself a chance to even think it through. I had literally made that post within minutes of finding out the detail that complicated an already difficult situation and I was in the throes of panic and emotional distress when I posted it. That was a mistake on my part, obviously. But it has certainly changed my perspective on how to respond to other posts on this site, because I realize how it feels to be the person who has made a clumsy post that comes off poorly. So I’m just asking that you keep in mind that a post made during the confusion and panic of an emotionally distressful situation may not paint an accurate picture of the very real human being behind the screen, and that it is better to err on the side of assuming they’re not an awful person than to immediately respond with negative judgments about them.