So here’s a little thing about me: I hate confrontation. In that it gives me anxiety and anxiety makes me stupid and my arguments go all to hell and then I lose until an hour/week/month later when I’m still dwelling on what I SHOULD have said, and damnit, THAT would have made my point and why am I even still thinking about this?
Actually, this whole post is a good example of that.
So instead of this stupid cycle that I hate dealing with, I tend to disengage instead. This is often after I’ve gone a round or two with attempting to stand up for my beliefs, get into the stupid confrontation cycle that makes me feel awful, and then realize that there’s no winning and it’s better if I just back off.
Anxiety is stupid. I don’t get it often — insecurity is my character flaw of choice — but when I do, it’s a massive pain in the ass.
On another, related (give in a minute) tack: I use social media differently than a lot of people, I think. I don’t follow people “for the heck of it”. I don’t follow everybody that I like. I don’t expect everybody I’ve ever encountered to follow me. I had a conversation with one of my favorite coworkers recently who said he couldn’t follow me — I post too much. Yeah, totally fair, I get that. Following someone on Twitter is not a sign of friendship, it’s a sign of wanting to see what that person has to say.
I get that I’m a minority in this. I don’t think that my way of using social media is the “one true way”. But I don’t use (and can’t be bothered to use) lists and such to make sure I read the important stuff. I tend to read just about everything that the people I follow write. So there are lots of people who I like perfectly fine who I don’t follow on twitter because what they write isn’t to my interest. I promise, I have no idea if you follow me or not, and I honestly don’t really care. At most, I might wonder WHY someone follows me. Maybe I’m wittier than I think. Ooh, hey, there’s that insecurity I mentioned! Hi!
And some who I’ve unfollowed because I disagree VERY strongly with some of the things they say, and the confrontation monster hits me and I can’t deal with it.
The problem with being non-confrontational is that I’m also rather opinionated.
So, from time to time, someone will post things that go so far against what I believe that I feel the need to argue it. And then the anxiety monster kicks in and I lose all of my intelligent debate and I get beat back. Which is doubly frustrating because I also believe that you are not entitled to your opinion, you are only entitled to what you can argue.
So… I can’t argue it, but I can’t let it go, and so I disengage.
Eventually, this turns into unfollowing. Or avoiding, not hanging out with… I’ve got family members I haven’t seen in years because I’m terrified of having to choose between confrontation and letting something horribly offensive slide. Biting my tongue makes me feel like part of the problem. Saying something sends me spiralling into anxiety and insecurity. Especially with family members, because now I’m causing family drama AND confrontation anxiety.
I write this because, in the last few weeks, I’ve un-followed a handful of people without saying anything in an attempt to quietly disengage. A few of them even noticed (which, because of how I use social media, caught me off guard — I’d never have noticed. I forgot that some people track that.) And I’m not trying to be passive aggressive — I tried to explain this (somewhat more succinctly) to those people directly. (One of my pet peeves is passive aggressive “vague tweets” so far be it from me to have a “vague blog post”.)
My attempt was not to say “I hate you and everything you stand for”. It was “I’m uncomfortable enough with some of your views that I need to disengage because if I disagree with your opinion and it doesn’t go the way I want it to, I have a week of feeling like crap.” This post is a perfect example. I’m still dwelling on an encounter from a few days ago because I feel awful.
I’ve unfollowed some truly wonderful people recently — one of whom I even had a really excellent private conversation with a few weeks ago. And I’ve tried really hard to convey to them that this is not a slam against them. It’s okay to disagree with people, it’s okay to have opinions that I think are wrong, it doesn’t make anyone a bad person. It’s my hangup that makes me prefer disengagement to confrontation, especially if it’s happening on a regular basis.
tl;dr: It’s not you, it’s me.
On the flipside, this is part of what made me realize that Dan was “the one”. (Ok, I don’t necessarily believe in the “one person” type soulmate thing, but you get the point.) A few months into our relationship, he exhibited some behaviour that I couldn’t handle. Worse, it reminded me of one of my least favourite things about my ex, and good god, no. I was free of that, and I’d be damned if I was going to get back into the same relationship over again. When we got home, it was obvious that I was upset, and I was absolutely convinced that we were going to break up over this. I got over the “oh god, confrontation anxiety” thing (well, more like “pushed through it anyway”), explained my position, and … holy shit. It went well. He explained some of it, agreed with other parts, apologized for the bits that he was wrong on (and I apologized for my part, because I am also kind of a jerk sometimes.) And … whoa. I was expecting a relationship-ending fight, what I got was the most amazing relationship discussion I had ever had. There have been a few times since where we’ve had a large difference of opinion, and every single time I’m expecting a massive stupid fight, and I get… sanity and wonderfulness. Dude. I should marry that … oh, wait, I did.