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Questions are always welcome

When You… I Feel… In the Future, Would You Please…

I am going to answer this pretty much line by line. My point here is to illustrate an approach to civil discourse. It is only one approach, there are certainly others. I think you have jumped to some conclusions that do not accurately portray my statements. I hope that you will be open to understanding me better.

These are my thoughts and feelings, what you do with them is your choice entirely. How I respond to your choice is for me to decide.

John Hopkins,

You said:

Okay. But what you are saying is that they are your ‘standards’ and maybe some other people’s. I accept them. I have no interest in pissing people off. But as you point out, we are all different.

In a discussion, people AGREE to the standards AS the discussion takes place. They don’t have to set the rules directly. What I tolerate — regardless of how it makes me feel and how I respond or react to it — is my way of agreeing to the standards for our conversation. You are also agreeing in this discussion to the standards we are setting via this conversation.

So far, we have agreed to avoid calling each other names, for example. It is a nice agreement. At least I think so.

I have agreed to read your words just as they are and take them at face value. When I read the words above, I do not think you have agreed to the same in my direction. Instead, these words seem to suggest a willingness on your part to interject meaning into my words that isn’t there.

Is that your intension?

You said:

So you (as in one) can respect another person’s standards once you are aware of them, but reacting to a first post or, as we have all seen, intervening between two other people to attack the ideas of one, is opening yourself up to whatever responses come your way.

We agree on this point too. I like it when we agree. Doesn’t make us right. All it means is this is yet another standard you and I are agreeing to set in this discourse. That’s a good thing in my opinion.

You said:

We have all seen this happen in a most vicious way: someone appears from nowhere to immediately launch into personal attacks. (I would post an example I saved of one case of this against me, but for the fact that it might now be seen as a vindictive way of attacking the individual who posted it — my ‘standards’ here).

I don’t necessarily think it is vindictive, but I do think it is relatively pointless in this context. To share an example like that would be to sidestep my point and I would perceive it as you trying to sway me into agreeing that your assessment of the exchange is ‘correct.’

My point is that whatever you are perceiving as unfair and lacking in mutual respect is a response to what was previously perceived as such. In other words, your focus on how someone chose to respond to what you said, instead of what you said in the first place which prompted the response is not helpful for YOU. The focus on the other person and what they decided to do when their boundary was pushed (whether you knew about it beforehand or not) is to give control over to that other person. If your decision was to look closer at your own words, you might find something you want to modify in the future. In doing so, you are maintaining your control over the only thing you can control — yourself. And you avoid judging others in the process.

You said:

I am not saying that to make out that these are lesser people with lower values, but just to point out that some people almost seem to be emotional beyond speaking to. On the one hand they come at you calling you for everything, and then the next thing they are blocking you. That’s not communication.

We might have to agree to disagree here. Blocking IS communication. Silence IS communication. Non-verbal gestures ARE communications. Everything we do and say IS communication — everything we don’t do or say IS ALSO communication. Blocking communicates very directly, “no, I am not going to agree to that standard, I choose to ignore you because your words are bothering me.” You might not like what that person is saying to you with their block — in fact, I’d argue that you do not like it at all — but that is not relevant. It is valid, just beside the point. Blocking communicates an end. People have a right to uphold their boundaries however they choose to, you can judge that wrong if you want, but that isn’t going to get you anywhere and it certainly won’t improve your engagement with others.

You said:

Some people are obviously emotionally on edge, have PTSD or whatever, and are best left alone — or in the company of whoever they want to speak to.

I am going to be generous and choose to see this as an accidental insult. I have PTSD. I don’t appreciate this comment at all. When you said, “some people are obviously emotionally on edge, have PTSD or whatever, and are best left alone…” like you did in your response to me, I feel angry, attacked, frustrated, annoyed and put down by you. In the future, I would appreciate it if you refrained from using PTSD as an example of people who are ‘emotionally on edge and best left alone,’ because that clearly demonstrates your lack of knowledge regarding the brain injury called PTSD; and I think it would be more respectful if you asked those of us living with that injury what we want and what we think is best for us — as individuals — instead of making that choice for us and treating us like children. Would you please refrain from making statements like this in the future?

You said:

“But we are nearing a situation in our culture — not just in social media — where people are being asked to simply shut up lest someone gets offended.There is no end to that process. There is no standard as regards what someone somewhere could possibly find offensive. Eventually, this kills communication itself. And as someone with no political dog in the whole fight, I see it as ironic that this form of authoritarian political correctness is generally coming from the Left. Ain’t fascist-type thinking supposed to be on the Right?”

I think this is so loaded with categorical language it is difficult to unpack. In the first place, someone asking you to respect their boundary is not the same as them asking you to “shut up.” It simply isn’t the same thing. Also, you still have a choice. I can ask you whatever I want to ask you. You can CHOOSE to honor my request or not. That isn’t robbing you of anything and it isn’t silencing you. In fact, expecting other people to keep quiet when they are offended by your words or behaviors is silencing them, not you. You still get to choose how you want to respond to the request and if the request is in the form of a block, you get to decide whether or not you change your tactics when you engage with someone else. Being open to learning is important.

You said:

“You make a case for defending ‘standards’ but I would ask you to look at that. Is it really as you see it? It seems to me that there are no ‘standards’ other than those that a person puts on themselves or that a channel or social authority (law, police etc.) imposes on us. Obviously I am happy to respect your boundaries as you request, but from an intellectual perspective, that is YOUR boundary as you point out — and a personal protocol is not ‘a standard’ — it’s the opposite — unique and personal.”

I said in the beginning that throughout any engagement the standards are set by the people in it. I both agree and disagree with the above statements. The boundaries are individual. The standards are an agreement between those engaged with one another — it takes at least two people to have interpersonal communication — if I do not say, ‘no’ to something, I am agreeing to that standard in our engagement. As are you when you do not say no.

You quoted me saying:

“So I think the answer in a nutshell is — boundaries — communicating them clearly, accepting other people’s boundaries and doing our best to engage with people in an open way …”

Then you said:

“Yes, this is fine in terms of not upsetting people. But please let’s not pretend that it is doing our best to engage with people in an open way.”

You seem to have missed the word ‘and’ in my quoted statement above — AND doing our best… That one word, ‘and,’ implies that the thing after it is DIFFERENT from the things that came BEFORE it.

You said:

“It is prioritising people’s sensibilities over the ability to freely and openly say what one thinks. I am not judging that your approach is not valid — simply asking you to look at it. If someone cannot say something because they know that the other person will be triggered, their idea is simply silenced because the other person’s feelings are prioritised. That is not open conversation at all.”

You can look at it that way if you want to — I cannot control that — but I CAN suggest that looking at it this way is not going to help you communicate with others.

I might be jumping to conclusions, but to me, you seem to be someone who wants to connect with others, wants to be heard and has a sense of fairness that gets triggered when someone closes the door on you. I understand that, I am just telling you that the way you are communicating doesn’t effectively show others who you really are inside. It doesn’t display the greatness that is your true self. I think you might want to consider that carefully.

This IS an open conversation. We are agreeing to standards, we are engaging in good faith and we are making requests of one another to consider things. If I don’t feel the respect I am giving is coming back to me, I have a choice in how I would like to handle any perceived disrespect. You get the same choice. That is equality.

You said:

“That is asking people to self-censor. Like I say, I am happy to respect a person’s request to be treated that way but I will not pretend that what they are asking me to do is to be open and honest with them, as that would be selling them a lie…”

Didn’t anyone tell you as a child that what you say to others has an affect your relationships? Didn’t you learn what is appropriate and not appropriate — socially acceptable and not socially acceptable — with others?

Self-censoring is a way to show others respect, sure, but more importantly, it is a way to show SELF RESPECT in the sense that you walk the way you talk, you uphold your standards for behavior towards others REGARDLESS of how they treat you. You give respect to get it. Trust is EARNED, not given.

Being honest doesn’t require meanness and being mindful of how your attitudes, words and actions affect others is not being dishonest. It is being an adult.

Barring any and all of the above, the very least you could do, is accept the fact that others have a right to make any request they want — you have a right to say, ‘no,’ — you do NOT have a right to control other people. Others also have a right to establish their boundaries however they see fit — you don’t have to honor those boundaries, but you DO have to be prepared to deal with the consequences of your choice NOT to honor them — up to and including — asking for help from their friends who DO honor their boundaries AND/OR blocking you.

Does that make more sense?