Thursday, September 19, 2013

Funny how that works

There is a scenario I have seen played out time and again that goes something like this:

Person shows their ass to a family member/close friend.  It often takes the form of weighing in on their family choices, and is quite often an ongoing issue.

The person on the receiving end withdraws.  Family politics often mean you can't tell someone to fuck off in so many words, but you quit doing things with them and reduce contact in general.

Asshole person eventually notices the withdrawal and is totally confused.  Why are these people suddenly being mean?  They never seem to make the connection between their own behavior and the withdrawal.

I had a conversation with a friend about this recently.  She and her husband recently announced another pregnancy and the reaction was...mixed.  They have withdrawn from some of the people who were rude about the announcement, for reasons which are obvious to everyone except those from whom they've distanced themselves.

Here's the thing.  Although occasionally it does happen (by people who pride themselves on being blunt when they are really just assholes), generally speaking none of us would dream of walking up to a pregnant stranger in the grocery store and saying "What are you thinking? You have enough kids already!"

And yet, plenty of folks do it to their friends and family members.

True story: I have never had a stranger say something negative to me about potentially having a sixth kid.  I have, however, had more than one relative/friend say something along the lines of "Now that you have a boy, you can stop!" or "Are you angling for a reality show?"

What this translates out to, for those having trouble following along, is there are a lot of people out there who treat their relatives/friends with less respect than they would total strangers.

And then they wonder why the people they are assholes to don't want to be around them anymore.

Mind you, I am framing this in terms of children, but it's not only that.  I have a lot of Facebook friends who have gotten blow-back from people who supposedly care for them over decisions which are none of their business: home schooling, child-rearing decisions, career paths, etc.  There's some vaguebooking involved, but I get the impression a lot of it is concern trolling--criticizing a person under the guise of caring about them.

The concern trolls may well be fooling themselves, but they're not pulling the wool over their target's eyes.

There is a startling lack of self-awareness here, a basic lack of understanding of cause and effect.

If you reach out to pet a dog and he snaps at you, you'd be an idiot to stick your hand out to the dog again.   If you share your life with a person and they are sharply critical of things that aren't their business (even if they mistake them for their business), you'd be an idiot to share again.

Again with the lack of self-awareness, but because I care I'll spell it out for the concern trolls: Unless it directly affects you, it's not actually your business. 

1 comment:

Dave said...

I think people are assholes to family members and friends because they feel like it is okay to be, as if, you are kin, so you are allowed to benefit from my experience (at being an asshole).

You are right, very few people walk up to a complete stranger and say things like, "Dude, seriously, do you really need a dozen donuts? Wouldn't two or three be enough?" I suspect Texas' concealed carry laws would eliminate a lot of the obnoxious people who tried that. Kidding, of course.

I guess what I'm saying is, we get advice and commentary from family and friends all the time and we appreciate and accept it. It's only those idiots who can't seem to navigate the line between polite advice and thoughtful comments and their extremely assholish thoughts that are better kept to themselves.