I insulted a friend yesterday (And responded like this)
What do you do when you unintentionally hurt someone?
What do you say when your words impact someone in a way that you never expected?
Because, it’s important to remember that another person’s hurt is legitimate, even if the original words were never intended to cause that pain.
I made a mistake yesterday.
I rarely post my thoughts on Facebook.
I typically only use the platform to share my writing and for blatant self-promotion of my creative projects.
I used to share my thoughts on Facebook as a way to update friends and family on my life.
But I realized, as I got older, that I was doing it for attention. That I needed the validation. That Facebook was changing the way I viewed the world. That I would share to get “likes” rather than share to get meaningful connection.
I was losing the ability to be authentic, and I didn’t love it.
So I made some rules for myself. I would only share in certain ways on Facebook and I would turn to other, more authentic, platforms if I decided to use social media at all.
Medium and Twitter are about the only sites that I use regularly to communicate as authentically as I can.
Of course, online communication, if you want to be heard, requires a certain degree of “selling,” of positioning yourself in a way that you can be seen by others. It’s not glamorous — but it’s the reality.
But back to the story.
I posted something on Facebook yesterday about how my phone was broken and had been broken for a few days. I posted it mainly to update my friends that may have been trying to reach me.
But I went beyond that.
I talked about how it felt the last few days to no longer have a “robotic appendage.” I mentioned the freeing aspect of it. The tendency to look elsewhere — even up into the air — when I didn’t have my phone to check.
I admit, I made some glib remarks about the liberating nature of life without a phone, and I sprinkled in a dose of social commentary for good measure.
I’ve done enough self-work and writing online that I wasn’t too concerned about any response to the update I might get.
Then the universe decided I needed to learn something, and I got a response I wasn’t expecting.
A friend left a comment stating that she did not appreciate my message and that some people— individuals with certain medical conditions — need their phones to manage medical conditions. To stay alive. They rely on their “robotic appendage” for survival.
Reading her response, at first I was indignant. My limbic system flared, and my brain searched for the reasons why I was, in fact, right and she was wrong.
Then I took a deep breath and considered what she was telling me.
This brought me back up to my neocortex, to the thinking part of my brain. I sorted through how this person might be feeling. I dug deeper than what she had only put into words. I thought through her story. I thought through what I knew about her.
And then I responded:
Hi, thank you for educating me. I will absolutely consider that the next time I write something like this. Of course, your point is valid and very helpful for me.
Also, I know you don’t know me very well. I just hope that you know that, if I had thought of that, I would have never written it the way I did. I, in no way, meant to discredit what you go through — or what anyone in a similar situation is going through.
Thank you for the feedback. I’m taking it to heart.
Did I need the “I know you don’t know me very well” line? I’ve thought about it more, and I probably didn’t.
As I’ve gotten older, I try to say only what is essential. I try to be extremely mindful and intentional with my words.
My friend appreciated it. She responded:
Thanks Jordan! It’s all good. Thanks for being receptive.
I didn’t mention to her that I wasn’t receptive. At least not at first.
Part of growing up and maturing is learning to chip away at the ego to get to the soft part that makes me human.
Tapping into my humanity helps me see that we are all really the same tangled threads of emotion — that we pull on each other, but also that we need each other to keep us tethered to reality.
Mistakes can be made even when intentions are pure.
I could have been self-righteous and argued that this person was reading into it too much. A younger me probably would have done that.
But I’m no longer a younger me. I’m the me that exists right now. The me that takes in information and tries to get better.
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