Saturday, June 11, 2011

sticks and stones, 2011

I confess....I've debated this post since Thursday night.  I knew I needed to wait until I could be sure why  I was writing it and have it come from something other than anger and hurt.  I am not writing it out of vengence or for validation.  I work through things best by writing them and that's the think it out, to package it, and to put it away on a shelf.

A friend, Z (using non-initial letters...yes, I think about this stuff too much), made a FB link to an article with a title about obesity, weight stigma and bias.  I replied, noting I couldn't read the piece w/o registering (side note: really, I can't stand registering constantly) but wanted to note that weight bias goes both ways.  I noted three events where I was on the receiving end of stereotypes because I am smaller.  I noted, too, that I do get MUCH better treatment in stores now than when I was heavy.  Another woman, Y, replied:

 See, completely irrelevent and self-absorbed comments such as this is why she gets defriended. To paraphrase, "Well, I'm skinny and people are mean to me too. Oh, and my back hurts. Waaaa."

Later, more in response to something MM posted in my defense (and, admittedly, in return attack mode...they've said women's tears kill men's libido, I think it also turns on defense mechanisms), she added:

But instead of attacking me, consider the context of my comment and think about why everyone is always busy or out of town when you visit.
Okay.  Here we go...

As to the specific comment, I know I play the "me too" game too much.  It is a crutch for a socially awkward and uncertain person.  I admit that and I do see it.  I do want to say though that my point was NOT that people are mean to me but that stereotypes hit both ends of the weight spectrum.  I've seen studies on doctors pre-judging heavy patients, but really nothing on judgments about smaller women.  I was clear that I hadn't read the article and I owned my statement as my own observations.  I am not a researcher so I don't have stats, I only have experience.  While I share my stories, I also will place high value on yours as well. After all, social science studies are just experiences added up.

Additionally, I know I update my FB status a bit more than I should.  I'm home all day.  I'm doing job applications left and right, but I still have time on my hands.  So I comment more.  I've also talked with a couple of my docs about the fact that being unemployed isn't great for dealing with pain.  Yes, it is nice not to have to put on the work face and to be able to lie down as needed, etc., but it also leaves you with a lot of time to just dwell on the physical.  I'll also say that I haven't had the easiest journey in life and 2010 was a particularly rough year.  I'm coming back from that and 2011 has had some great events, but I'm still haunted by a lot of demons (2010's and longer term ones).  If you want to defriend me, fine.  If you want to hide my posts, fine.  If you want to just ignore them, fine too.  I get it.

With that said, I was hurt by the comment(s).  I don't need you (the general "you") to like me.  Again, it'll still likely sting if you don't, but it's your right.  I think I come off as brash and snobby sometimes but those who truly know me know I see the brilliance and strengths of others much more so than my own and try hard to treat others with high levels of respect.  If I'm not for you, fine.  You can tell me if it's something we can work out.  You can complain about me to other people (we all do that...).  But a public flogging is just plain rude and uncalled for.  There are exceptions, like a response to another cruel comment, but not many.  Y doesn't need to like me, but to beat me up in a thread started by someone else is not cool.

It is further complicated because there are always people in the middle.  Obviously, we're both friends with Z and Z did NOT deserve the explosion after her post.  We are also more closely tied since her BF is an important part of MM's life.  I'd actually noticed she defriended me and mentioned it to MM.  In this case, I didn't need to be besties with her but I did hope we could at least tolerate each other because of the guys' relationship.  It makes the public nature even more complex because it put MM in an awkward place.  Faced with a hurting girlfriend, he responded in anger and counterattacked.  It wasn't kind and he later deleted it when tempers settled but there were some angry word, online and by phone, b/w MM and Y's BF.  Not wanting to cause that rift is actually why I only replied with "wow"...well, okay, I was also blindsided and in shock. 

They are boys  They yelled a bit.  I will say that Y's BF didn't seem to see the irony that they were actually doing the very same thing...MM stood up for me and he stood up for Y.  As he should.  As they both should.  Yes, I'm a big girl and can stand up for myself, but I like that MM has my back.  I have his isn't a one-way, boys-only street.  As I said before, I mentioned noticing the defriedingDefriending is fine, raised my eyebrows but fine.  Public flagellation shows a lack of consideration for other people, not just me.

I am a queen of self-doubt.  I secretly wonder if every single person around me truly hates me.  I reached out to a couple people in our overlapping circles.  I told them I simply needed to know...if they didn't want me around, that was fine, but I wanted to know (privately, please).  I was reassured that we were cool.  They all wanted to avoid getting in the middle so didn't say much beyond that, but we got that air cleared. 

Takeaways (w/ bullets to bring me back):
  • You don't have to like me.  I would rather know than be an unwanted guest but...
  • Sometimes I think we need to tolerate people for the sake of other people.  If our circles overlap, feel free to try to avoid me and all that, but please respect the relationships that might be impacted by harsh words.
  • I am aware of my "me too"ing.  I know it isn't elegant.
  • Public flogging isn't cool.  It's junior high bullying and it saddens me that social media allows us to fall back on such things.  If I'm the issue, we can talk about it, you can vent to others over coffee or beer, but please don't air the grievances in a public forum.  Especially when it's a bit out of nowhere (i.e. would be diff if the poster said something...though I'd still prefer it be in private).
  • I probably have doubted whether you like me.  I'm really good at that, but I don't think it is just my thing...I'm pretty sure a lot of people have doubts.  Playing on people's weaknesses isn't very cool.
Summary of the summary: Feel what you want, it's your right.  Voice it if you must, but do so in a way that's constructive or just plain appropriate.  Feelings of the attack-ee aside, I think it actually gives your comments more power when they are expressed maturely.


lee said...

It doesn't seem like you did anything wrong here. Even if your comment was not well-received by Y, it seems really immature for her to say something about you in a public forum like facebook.

This is different but i posted something on the atlanta track club's facebook page about not getting into the peacthree and some random person called me a sore loser. it's just like if the conversation is between you (or me) and the poster, why are other people butting in and calling names?

Anonymous said...

Yep, our relationships have yet another similarity, then again so do our personalities. I've had similar problems with my SO's people over different issues. I'm just now getting to the point where I can walk the line between "I don't care if you like me" and maintaining the middle ground for the sake of other people's relationships. It's taken a lot to get there because there have been times when I've just wanted to either a) avoid or b) confront in the harshest, most inappropriate way possible but I've recognized the damage that behaving that way can do. I guess at this point the thing that matters the most is that the people who love or like me who I don't have to question. I tend to focus on them and I try not to let the others get to me. Rest assured, I love you to death, even from 800 miles away and sometimes I'm a little sad that we weren't closer than we were when you were here because we'd be good for each other.

Either way the whole thing seems ridiculous. There is no reason to bring personal issues with people to a public forum like FB.

Helen said...

My question is what is her problem? It's not you. She is being way to hateful for just one comment. Rather like the punishment does not fit the crime. Makes you wonder....

Lesley said...

I understand some of what you are saying. I was saying to someone else the other day that although going to work some days are tough with chronic illness but if I did not work I fear I would delve further into not only the pain but the depression/anxiety that goes with it.

I agree with one thing, public flogging is not cool. It is so hard to resist jumping into the fray and responding.

tennislover said...

Helen, it does make you wonder. What is the other side of the story? Is there more to it? Is this a recurring problem that Y has with "Confessions" girl that is now coming out all at once?

The Rambling Blogger said...

tennis -- she has every right to her views. i've read them and gave her the space to say them on her blog w/o my comment there b/c it is her space. i have no doubt she has had people talk to her in support of her views and she is entitled to that as well.

tennislover said...

Im just saying I agree the punishment doesn't fit the crime. But I also give everyone the benefit the doubt and know we are only hearing one side and one piece of the story. I just wondered if there was more to it like another hurt or incident or something that started it.