I wonder if any of my readers fucking hate as much as I do being told as a means of insult or dismissal that they said, implied, meant, or were motivated by something — to their faces — that they did not say, did not imply, did not mean, and by which they were not motivated, at all.
I understand the occasional misunderstanding. Sometimes, when someone says something, someone else misunderstands it. Maybe the audience assumed facts not in evidence. Maybe the audience just jumped to a conclusion based on past experience without even the “benefit” of the assumption of facts not in evidence. Maybe the way the original statement was made is actually easily interpreted incorrectly, and not so easily interpreted correctly.
I am sure I’ve said things many times that are more easily interpreted incorrectly than correctly. I totally understand if, under such circumstances, what I say is misunderstood. In online discussion, I have a tendency to say something that literally means exactly what I intend it to and implies nothing else in and of itself — but people misinterpret it anyway because they are used to such statements from others being a euphemism for something else, or a passive-aggressive cover up for some ulterior meaning or motive. Fine. I get that.
If I correct someone who makes it clear he or she is operating under such a misconception, I would expect that person (and others “listening” in) to at least entertain the notion long enough to consider comparing the content of my correction with the evidence of my statements and actions outside of the statement under dispute, if not to simply accept what I have to say about my own intent as the truth. People should at least think about it, in other words, rather than dig in their heels and unthinkingly argue against my statements about the content of my own mind.
If I say “I meant such-and-such,” and the only response I get is equivalent to “nuh-uh” (complete with the utter lack of intellectual value one would expect from a statement like “nuh-uh”), that’s kind of like a bucket of congealed fail.
Asking a question in a discussion forum about how other people in that forum decide whether or not to use the “ignore” feature to block their view of someone else’s posts, and being treated as though I had said “I’m ignoring Joe now! Neener neener!” and posted a photo of myself sticking out my tongue rather than just asking a polite question, is the kind of problem I’m talking about.
I don’t just get annoyed at that sort of crap. I get downright pissed off. “No,” I might say, “I just want to know what others think warrants use of the ignore feature.” If saying something like that constitutes the fourth time in the last hour or so that I’ve had to make such a correction, that sentence might include some profanity and invective. Receiving some lame-ass comment from yet another brainless yabbo who thinks he knows what motivates me more than I do, one might think, is not exactly calculated to endear him to me.
This is the kind of unremittingly cretinous behavior that drives me right up the fucking wall. You wanna know how to piss me off? There it is. You now possess one of about two or three rare secrets to pushing my buttons.
In conversation with a friend recently, after my recent audio interview at TechRepublic (the “Listen to the podcast.” link is for a plain ol’ MP3 if you don’t want to use the Flash interface), the following words were exchanged:
him: Good interview.
him: Getting caught by surprise didn’t seem to ruffle your feathers much.
me: I guess I’m good at faking it. I have imperturbable sangfroid, or something.
him: Ice running in your veins and all that.
me: Yeah, something like that. Generally speaking, the only emotions that usually get away from me are amusement and anger — and anger only very, very rarely.
him: I wouldn’t want to be around then, considering how powerful your sense of humor can be.
Some people have, on occasion, mistaken a moment of frustration for anger. I’m not sure why my frustration seems like anger. I am very, very rarely actually angry, except in the most abstract, distant, and usually very calm sense of being generally a trifle angry about the stupid herd mentality of humans in large numbers. Real anger is a quite uncommon thing with me. If at this point you think you’ve never seen me more than middling-angry, chances are good you haven’t even seen me mildly angry.
I just don’t let myself get angry, generally speaking, unless I’ve gone well beyond angry and hit “pissed right the fuck off”.
Don’t Go There:
Now, with that in mind . . . resolutely sticking to your guns in telling me, in insulting fashion, what I am thinking as if you have had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with every neuron in my head, directly contradicting what I say I’m thinking, with the relentless certainty of willful ignorance and confirmation bias, is a great way to really anger me.
Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes I walk away and forget about it with a shrug. If, on the other hand, something induces me to stick around and try with more than one or two cursory attempts to disabuse you of the notion that you’re misinterpreting my intent — if, in other words, it becomes blatantly obvious that you’ve gone beyond misinterpretation and entered the realm of direct misrepresentation — you just may see me come unhinged.
If you value my friendship (or maybe just your nose), and you aren’t a psychologist qualified and prepared to formally diagnose me contrary to my understanding of my own mind, just don’t go there.
Today, a rapid-fire series of such misrepresentations in an online discussion forum convinced me my time is better spent elsewhere. I fully expect that, in my absence, my statement that my time is better spent elsewhere will be interpreted by some schmuck as a sign that I’m “spineless”, or that I want someone to beg me to come back, or that I’m “taking my ball and going home”. The truth is much simpler, though:
My time is better spent elsewhere.
Considering the prevalence of such willful misrepresenting behavior from a nontrivial selection of the population of that forum (it’s not a very popular discussion forum, so it doesn’t take many to make a nontrivial selection), there’s near zero chance I’d ever think of the place in any terms other than “Well, I’m glad I haven’t wasted any time on that pest hole since that day!”