Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Posted by Zek J. Evets at 12:03 AM
Sometimes people miscommunicate. It's a common problem, and while most of us are used to dealing with it and moving on, sometimes that miscommunication isn't the problem. It was what was communicated accidentally, or unintentionally. Sometimes, it's about what you said, rather than what you meant to say.
This kind of situation happened to me recently over Facebook. And I'm curious to see what ya'll make of it. (Names and other incriminating information has been deleted or altered to protect both myself and the other party. Otherwise, these quotes are completely accurate.)
Zek: [as a Facebook update]
Zek: And thanks for deleting your previous comment. [The comment regarding James Herriot, etc., had been deleted by Em.]
Okay, so after this I decided to question my friend further. I wanted to see if she really thought she hadn't done anything wrong and was being misunderstood, or if she was just being stubborn and defensive. Conversation continues...
Zek: Hey Em, it was good to hear from you again. Seems that lately we've been going through that -- waddya call it? -- drifting apart phase. It makes me sad because we used to be pretty regular friends, but I guess it's one of those inevitable things that happens as time goes by and people change, grow up, etc.
It seems like something that's changed is you (and perhaps me too). I remember you used to be much more soft-spoken -- quieter, but nicer. Yet the last times I remember talking you were very loud, and very drunk. And now I see that in the midst of being supportive to my plight at work, you use homophobic slurs...
Now, I don't think you're homophobic. But I do think using words like "fag" that are linked almost exclusively with homophobia, bullying gay kids in school, and other bigoted things is just as bad as if you were homophobic. It's hurtful, even if you try to cache it in a joke, because ultimately you're comparing the "lameness" (for lack of a better word) of whatever you're talking about, and the word you've used to describe it. Now, we know what "fag" means -- nowadays -- and while my coworkers were being particularly lame, I don't need to make that point by comparing them to negative perceptions of gay people.
Why? Because I can be funny, be upset, or be whatever without being ignorant and using bigoted speech. And I know you don't either, because I think you're not that kind of person.
Anyhoo, think about what I've said, and then write me back if you want.
Em: I will say it once more.. I did not use the word fag on purpose. would have appreciated even just one question from you regarding my stand point...seek first to understand.
Zek: So, then you used it accidentally? How do you accidentally use that word? I hope you appreciate that instead of writing you off like I would a stranger that uses that kind of language, I am actually taking the time to understand.
Maybe instead of being defensive about a mistake, you could just apologize for saying something offensive?
Em: Ive spent a good part of my life apologizing for things I didnt do. I genuinely thought only of how I could fuse the roots of those words together and that is how it came out. I slandered nobody, surely not my bisexual mother. Please stop ANTAGONIZING me; this is borderline bully behavior... and I think it's terrible if you are feeling that way at work, but instead of projecting your sensitive feelings about this issue through the internet, go to a supervisor. As for conflict resolution, I'm done with swallowing my feelings (especially when I've been deeply misunderstood) and saying a cowardly little word called sorry just to appease someone.
Zek: Well I'm asking you to apologize for something you did do. So maybe don't project your feelings of being misunderstood or swallowing your feelings onto me?
How do you unoffensively fuse the roots of "fag" and "professional"? Having a bisexual mother doesn't absolve you from using homophobic slurs, just like my having a Black girlfriend doesn't absolve me from using racist slurs. If anything, it gives me more of a reason not to use them.
As for antagonizing you, bullying you... that's not my intent here. I'm sorry you feel cornered but as a friend I feel obliged to call you out when you say something to me that was offensive. And that word is used to bully others far worse than anything my intention to understand your defensiveness over making a mistake will ever be.
I appreciate your support for my work troubles, which I already solved before posting on facebook. But if you see apologizing for saying something offensive to me as "appeasing" then I don't think we should talk anymore...
I already have to deal with enough prejudice in my life that I don't want friends who can't get past their own, no matter how accidental or minor. It just isn't worth fighting with someone who can't see what they did wrong, and it seems obvious you don't.
I am sorry that it ends this way though. I wish you the best of luck in the future. Take care.
Em: I fuse antagonist and professional. I am now asking you to leave me alone
[Em deleted me from her Facebook before I could.]
Now, am I crazy, or is she? Did she seriously believe that her first comment was the attempted fusion of "antagonist" and "professional"?
Honestly, even if she's telling the truth, there is seemingly no way to not first think that her comment was a combination of "fag" and "professional". Moreover, whether or not she saw it that way, the fact that others did indicates that she should have simply apologized for making a mistake and moved on.
That she was unable to -- combined with her demonstration of Classic, Textbook prejudice -- has left me shaking my head at what kind of friend she actually was to me. Apparently, one with more issues than a magazine. (Judging from her freak out, turning it around until she's the victim, her telling me not to bully her, and her saying to leave her alone after I just said I didn't want to be friends or talk to her anymore, well... it's even more hilariously disappointing.)
But I want some reactions. What do ya'll think? You have the conversation, sans identifying information. You tell me what the happenstance is.