Tuesday, May 24, 2016
when grown women act like they're in junior high
you know that moment when someone calls you out of the blue and is angry with you? you get a whole litany of complaints from them, some which are perfectly valid, but they were so off your radar that you’re taken aback by the whole thing? it’s an instant of insight into another perspective; one which you definitely would never have arrived at on your own.
during that phone conversation (which feels strange in and of itself, because honestly, who makes phone calls anymore these days?), you realise that the person actually just wants to be mad and doesn’t want to resolve anything with you. she just wants to communicate her anger. repeatedly and insistently. and she definitely does not want to listen to you, nor does she actually want the information that she claims you have been withholding from her. she mostly seems to want to give you lessons about a culture that you clearly don’t understand, what with your being a foreigner and all. and while it’s all very unpleasant, people are entitled to their emotions. and sometimes situations make us angry. but you’re actually quite zen about it because you have no vested emotions in this person. you’d met her a few times, but actually felt quite ambivalent about her, not disliking, but not liking either. and you chalk the whole thing up to what you have to endure if you’re going to head up a little artsy organisation involving a bunch of women. because women are always worst to one another (why is that?).
however, it doesn’t stop there. the angry person takes to facebook and airs her complaints publicly on the group’s facebook page. you’re traveling for work at the time and don’t have time to address the complaints in the public forum, but thankfully one of the other members does so. a few weeks later, when you try to do so and actually to thank her for motivating the board to start an electronic newsletter to keep members informed, you discover that you are blocked from commenting on the post. and also on another post, which is complaining that the angry woman can’t see the information you posted about an upcoming event. and you realise that the reason she can’t see it, or any of your other posts, is that she has blocked you. and you investigate how one goes about that on facebook and you realise that it’s not something that could have been done by accident – it had to have been intentional. she wanted to spew her complaints and she didn’t want you to be able to answer them. and while that’s normal behaviour on the internet, it’s actually not that often that you encounter it in real life. and you move away from ambivalence towards dislike.
but you try to actually curb your knee-jerk response to such a person and handle it from another, more zen place. so you send an email with the comment that you wanted to post, praising her for sharing her experience with the group and for prompting us to start a tiny letter newsletter. and you say that it’s perfectly ok that she has blocked you on facebook (and you actually mean it), but that she should know that it’s why she can’t see the information you post in the group and could she kindly refrain from publicly complaining about that when she has chosen it herself.
she responds with pleas of a lack of tech savvy and asks you to explain how she can fix it. so you play tech support and give her a detailed description of where/how you block and unblock people (after googling your way to how it's done). and when she stops by the exhibition, you also show her the same on your own computer, which you happen to have along. but you maintain a wary distance and are not warm and friendly, because hello, she did block you and now she’s standing right in front of you, lying to your face about it.
some hours later, you hear that she proceeded to go down to the square and talk shit about you to several of your friends. and with that, you’ve had enough and you write to her once again, kindly asking her to please take the conversation directly with you and not go around talking about you on the streets. and, while lying to you directly that she hadn’t done so, like a child, picking up their toys and going home – she petulantly picks up her paintings from the exhibition and says she is leaving the group. and you wonder how grown women (seriously, she's in her 60s) can behave like that.
maybe we really do learn how to behave when we’re in junior high.
and then your ambivalence returns. and you realise it’s all just fodder for an eventual novel. if people didn’t want you to write about them unfavourably, they should have been nicer.