Every once in a while I like to review my profiles on Facebook or Linked In, and occasionally I find that people have removed me as their friend for reasons unknown without explanation. Not being someone who tends to do this, I am often puzzled by the reasons one would take the effort to remove contact or lines of easy communication with someone with whom you have a disagreement, if you believe that a reconciliation is possible and so there would be a purpose to leaving a line of communication open, regardless of the present unpleasantries between you and he.
This seems rather straightforward to me–I am, after all, in the business of building bridges, and haphazardly maintaining them, but not really in the business of burning them or blowing them up with dynamite. Some people, though, are quite expert at destroying connections for reasons they are unable and unwilling to explain, as if we were all back in elementary school and pretending that others did not exist simply because they said or did something that we did not like.
I do not wish to single anyone out in particular in what I am about to say, but I would like to comment that the past year or so has afforded a lot of very interesting opportunities where I found out that other people were not as mature when it came to communication as I would have hoped them to be. We all behave less than our ideal when we are under a lot of stress (and it has been a long time since it was otherwise for me, personally), but there are still lines of decorum one ought not to cross. What I will discuss is a selection of “drama queen” messages and actions taken from people who ought to have acted more mature. Is this the sort of thing we want to be said about our own emotional maturity? I would hope not.
A little over a month ago I was sent a sermon by a minister I know dealing that I thought explained the United Church of God crisis very well–I sent the minister the transcript with a very sincere (and flattering) commentary, and received the following response: “I think you ought to drop dead 70 x 7.” This is from a man almost as old as my grandparents, who is a paid minister and a man of a seemingly good reputation (among some at least), but he wished me dead 490 times. I think that’s a little bit of overkill. Shouldn’t men of God act like it? We are to forgive people who cause us offenses 490 times, not wish them dead 490 times.
A little over a year ago one of my family members had talked up the concert for No Doubt and Paramore (two bands I happen to like a great deal) that my then-roommate and I were attending. When we arrived at the concert, he was nowhere to be found, and so I sent him a short message asking him where he was, as we were there looking for him. When I returned home early the next morning afterward, I found that he had unfriended me on Facebook because he felt I had called him out on a lie, rather than fessing up and saying that he had wanted to feel cool by going to the concert even though he wasn’t able to get a ticket. It’s okay–I’m not going to make fun of someone because they can’t go to a concert, or think any less of them (I haven’t been able to go to any concerts in a long while myself), so long as you are sincere about enjoying their music. Do people think that little of me or feel the need to puff themselves up that much? Seriously.
Likewise, in a similar vein of not being able to accept being called out, a few months ago someone I have known (and debated with over subjects like the Civil War and politics–he being far more of a libertarian than I am, while I am far more of a fan of Abraham Lincoln than he is) unfriended me without warning because I showed that one of his pet beliefs about the relocation of the Home Office to a rural area outside of Denton, Texas was not the will of God by the use of a syllogism: We know from the Bible that God’s will prevail and cannot be thwarted by men. The Home Office relocation was thwarted. Therefore, it was not God’s will. As this is a man who prides himself on his intellectual and logical capabilities, he seemed unable to graciously accept the rebuke that his position was illogical, so he did the mature thing and unfriended me in a snit because to do otherwise would be too humbling to his sense of pride.
There are many stories I could add to this list, but they all show a common thread to them that I would like to point out. All of us are most vulnerable on points dealing with our pride. Whether that is pride in our position and status, in our abilities (intellectual and otherwise) or in our integrity, when the point in which we have pride is attacked, our response tends to be hostile and fierce. As a prickly person myself, I am certainly aware of this tendency within me, but being aware of it I try not to let it get to the point where I prevent the breaches that result from such attacks on my dignity from destroying all chance for the friendship to be rebuilt, once a suitable apology is received.
Not everyone, though, seems to wish for the lines of communication to remain open, even if they are not used for days, or weeks, or months, or years as the wounds to our pride heal and we can look a bit more dispassionately at a friend and say that even with their tendency to hit sensitive areas that knowing them and continuing the friendship with them is still worthwhile, at least for the friendship that was, if not for the friendship that is, and perhaps also for the friendship that may yet be again. Why burn bridges unnecessarily? Why act as if any reminder of the existence of the other person is too painful to think about? We should all be mature enough emotionally to realize that other people can hit us where it hurts, that we do the same to others (I know I do at least), and that this does not make us bad people or unworthy of recognizing as friends, relatives, and acquaintances. How can people apologize to us or get to the point where we can all laugh at our foibles if we cut off communication from them?
So, if there is one point I can make from this, it is that we should not be drama queens. We should not throw temper tantrums and snits, or destroy lines of communication, simply because someone calls our bluff. We should all be men and women enough to own up to being caught flat footed, to do what is necessary to recover, and to resolve not to be so blind about ourselves again. We can all use the reminders that our pride can blind us to the way we really are, and we ought to appreciate those who provide such reminders to us rather than upset, even if we feel angry for a while (I know I do). Best of all, not being a drama queen can help you avoid being mocked on the internet in a message like this. Trust me, you don’t want that.