montagnarde1793: (la jeune fille à la colombe)
[personal profile] montagnarde1793
Well, it's been a long time since I've posted, so I thought I'd take a break from my usual Revolutionary preoccupations to share an insight that took me an unfortunately long time to really understand. In fact, there are aspects of it I may still have wrong. It seems to me, however, that when most people, including myself, say anything, even things that are clearly meant for the consumption of others, they often don't even think to really attempt to inhabit the space from which their audience will receive their words. Even now, as I try to imagine who, if anyone, will read these words and what they will think of them, I find myself unable to make any prediction. Still, I've concluded that on every occasion it is necessary to try.

Because, honestly, I think that's where many understandings come from - not from Alice's desire to hurt Bob* (TV tropes annoys me in many ways, but Alice and Bob in place of person A and person B is a nice conceit), but from Alice's profound self-absorption - so easy to get into, especially on the internet - which prevents Alice from thinking about how  Bob will receive her comment, which Alice meant in regard to herself, but which Bob quite naturally assumed was meant in regard to him. This might lead Bob to feel understandably hurt, depending on the comment, as Bob can't be expected to read Alice's mind and know her intentions. It behooves Alice then, before this situation arises, to remember Bob and who he is, and how he is likely to receive her comments, because what could be innocuous when applied to Alice or in general, might unintentially become an attack when applied to Bob, depending on the circumstances. I think the internet, in many ways, allows and even encourages the Alices not to take the Bobs (and we've all been both) into sufficient consideration. The Bobs can understand that the narcissism of internet culture means that what might seem as an attack on them is often not intended that way, but it is ultimately the Alices' responsability to try their best to avoid this kind of situation, by remembering that the interet is not a void, but is in fact attached to living, feeling Bobs on the other end.

To the extent that I have been an Alice, I'd like to issue a general apology. I've been a Bob too, and I know the uncertainty and hurt of that situation, especially when Alice and Bob are friends.

*I don't mean to imply that Alice never means to attack/hurt/insult/bully Bob, but that's a different scenario, though sometimes, especially on the internet, it can be extremely difficult for Bob to know for sure whether Alice is just being thoughtless or whether she is actively trying to hurt him.
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October 2014

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