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.
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!