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Try Not To Take Things Personally

Posted by on May 14, 2015

Back in 2011 I wrote a post titled Taking Twitter Unfollows Too Personally. In that article, I talked about the strange reaction Chris Brogan received when he decided to unfollow all the people he’d been connected to, even though his reasoning was pretty just at the time. I was pretty amazed that all those people took it personally, even though he wrote about it to explain what he was doing.

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You know what? I’m going to admit that there are times when I struggle with not taking things personally. Sure, sometimes things do get personal, and in those instances you have to deal with it directly in some fashion; my favorite way, at least on social media, is to block people so I don’t have to bother with them anymore. It keeps me from saying something rude or from escalating things to an extreme.

Every once in a while I stay calm and try to diffuse a situation, especially when I don’t really know the people I’m suddenly in conflict with. For instance, last October I got into a confrontation with a couple of millennials about something called Gamergate. I let them fuss and fume, called them on a couple of things they said, let them calm down and then had a nice conversation with them that ended well. I could have really gone off the deep end but in that case I felt it was better to see if I could find a way to talk to them instead.

Of course I could bring things closer to home by talking about people I know. In at least 3 cases now I’ve asked people if I could interview them, only to see them do their first interviews with someone else. Each person started off with something like “I’d be too nervous to do an interview” or “I don’t know what I’d say”. Each of them I pursued more than a couple of years. Eventually, well, I already stated what happened.

Now, I could take it personally, wonder what I might have done, wondered if I wasn’t as compelling a person to be interviewed by them and sulked. Truthfully, I did sulk briefly each time I found out about it. Then I moved on; after all, I’ve interviewed a good number of people anyway, including one of the people I’ve talked about above.

One of those things we all have to learn sometimes is that it’s not always about us. Sometimes it’s timing. Sometimes a person is having a bad day and decides to take it out on you. Just last week I was having a conversation with a guy on Twitter about something and he said he was tired of being called a racist. I said I hadn’t called him one. He looked back through his stream, saw that I hadn’t (I hadn’t even come close lol), and apologized for his overreaction. His assumption that, based on what he was saying at the time, was that I was going to call him one, which was strange because I’d began the conversation by saying I agreed with him on something. lol

It’s hard enough in one’s real life to not take everything personally. It can be harder on social media, especially since we can’t always see someone’s facial expressions and, let’s face it, the English language is so goofy that you can look at a sentence and take it many different ways sometimes, depending on how you’re reading it at the time (proper punctuation might help; just a suggestion…).

In any case, give it a shot and see if it makes you feel better and helps you communicate better online. Meanwhile, check out the video below, where I had something happen last year that irked me so much that I had to wonder if some people just aren’t meant for social media; lates!


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I think some people have a tendency to take things way too seriously. Life is basically pretty darn absurd when you really start thinking about it.Loved the video!

Arlee Bird recently posted…The Compassion of A to Z? (Part 2 of 2)My Profile

May 14th, 2015 | 8:17 PM

Thanks Arlee and thanks for commenting on the video. I’ll admit that I don’t have the calmest temperament on some things; we all have our triggers. But for the most part I can let things go or move beyond them; thank goodness. Who wants to be angry all the time right?

May 15th, 2015 | 1:11 AM

My blog is a personal one and most of the stuff that I write is personal either to me or to friends or family. Bar one occasion when the dung hit the roof when I made a flippant statement, so far no one has taken anything personally nor have I taken any comments personally. I must be the world’s most diplomatic blogger closely followed by all my commentators!
Rummuser recently posted…The Sanitary Inspector.My Profile

May 14th, 2015 | 8:46 PM

You do well with your blog Rummuser. It’s an amazing community of folks you have visiting your blog I must say. I think you learned your patience from family; that’s all I’m saying about that! 😉

May 15th, 2015 | 1:13 AM

I think you are right on not taking this personally. But there are some things that need to be taken out seriously and personally. Otherwise, you know well what happen 😉
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May 16th, 2015 | 1:31 PM

Absolutely. It’s a dicey game having to figure out what needs to be addressed versus what one can ignore.

May 16th, 2015 | 5:45 PM

Hey Mitch,

There are SO many things that we all should never take personally but as you mentioned, sometimes it’s just hard. I think for a lot of reasons it might have to do with the way the message was delivered or maybe we are just having a sensitive day or something. We might take it the wrong way which is why we can’t take things too personally.

I think your friend that got upset about that tweet was overreacting for sure and those that don’t quite understand how things work, they probably could as well. But I think if we can just try our best to keep an open mind, it’s like you said. We never know what the person on the other end is really thinking.

All we can each do is just our best. Great message though and hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

Adrienne recently posted…Breaking Away From The Me Too CrowdMy Profile

May 23rd, 2015 | 3:31 PM

Thanks Adrienne. You know, there are what we call “code words” where we know what people are thinking and saying… that every once in a while turns out not to be true. Hearing or seeing something all the time and having it mean something specific changes over time. Still, hearing what hasn’t been said means one is being a bit too self conscious about things.

There’s a enough offensive stuff online without being offended by what’s not said or done right?

May 23rd, 2015 | 5:37 PM
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