Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood..."

"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good..."
-- B. Benjamin/ G. Caldwell/ S. Marcus

So almost two weeks ago, I wrote a post about The Golden Rule which my friend, Pamela, from The Dayton Time commented upon. Her comment was so much in sync with what I was trying to express, that the next day I posted a follow-up quoting from her comments. The two of us were "of a like mind". We were simpatico. And so everything was cool, right?

It ain't necessarily so. Unbeknownst to me, Pamela was going through some rough times - and so, I think, some of the comments that I made here trying to be humorous might have seemed to be just rude (For example: "Hopefully, you've seen that you inspired today's post. If not, may I respectfully request that you - read the damn post!"). Others that were intended to be statements that might apply to anyone reading the post might have seemed to be directed at Pamela in particular ("Can you say 'hypocrite'? I thought you could!"). And the R.E.M. quote that I used to open one post could certainly have been interpreted as a slam on Christ and Christianity (which was certainly not my intention - although, to be honest, I think Christians are just as likely to violate The Golden Rule as anyone*).

So why write a whole post about this stuff anyway? Isn't it perpetuating a mountain that got created out of a molehill?

Here's why I think it's worth writing about: 'Cause stuff like this happens all the time. Sometimes we get so busy patting ourselves on the back for being clever or snarky or whatever - and we don't bother taking the time to be clear, to help people understand, to sacrifice being a smart-ass long enough to clarify, to reassure, to be a good neighbor in the Blogosphere.

Look, I have no illusions - being misunderstood is something that happens to everyone sooner or later. And relationships formed in the E-niverse (Blogosphere, insert your favorite term for this electronic world in which we trod) are particularly susceptible; I think in large part because our interaction is missing so much of the unspoken content (body language, tone of voice, inflection, facial expressions) that is such a huge part of communication in The Real World.

Even the Middle-Aged Woman just went through an episode where she was misunderstood and publicly flogged (mentioned just in passing on her blog). And she's so sweet, that this incident alone is incontrovertible proof that no one is immune from misunderstanding.

But I think if we make an effort to be honest and clear, if we give each other the benefit of the doubt, and not look for ways to take offense...

It'll make it a lot easier to win friends and influence people. And who couldn't use a few more friends these days? Or any day?

Take care.

* I count myself in that "Christian" group - so I'm talking about me, too.


Middle Aged Woman said...

We forget, sometimes, that the person reading us can't see us smiling innocently, or shaking our heads in sympathy.

Jim Styro said...

In the words of Ron White: "You ever forget? Happened to me..."