Out of nowhere, my friend Meg reminded me that everyone is fighting a hard battle. Snap. Her timing couldn’t be better because I have a queue of unanswered messages from guys who admit to hitting their girlfriends and women who are aggressively bulimic and want my help. I also have a message in my inbox from a Human Resources chick who starts her email off by writing, “Not to be rude, but…”
Well, it’s always rude to begin a sentence like that. Someone needs an intervention from Emily Post.
And in another example of the random stuff that appears in my life, look at this gem from a colleague in my industry.
Oh hell no, did I just get called out by a total stranger because I like cats and I think it’s dumb to talk about SaaS?
Le sigh. I’ve got uptown problems.
I tried to assume good intent but it was a stretch. At best, the author had an aneurism. At worst, she was intentionally trying to pee on me just like Scrubby stakes out his territory and pees on the cat condo. The whole exchange resembles a bizarre attempt to send a message that really doesn’t need to be sent.
I’m not trying to be the SaaS queen. You can have it. It’s yours. Let’s leave the cats out of it.
And you know what else bugged me? The author used the majestic plural. When you use the word we, you better have Gallup or God on your side.
So after this exchange happened on Twitter — the dumbest place in the universe, by the way — I received a very long email from the author. It doubled as an apology. Sorta. Apparently her tweets were meant to be humorous and teach me a lesson. She wanted to call me out for being judgy about SaaS.
Really. In her mind, this is some kind of sophisticated feedback methodology that I am too stupid to understand.
And I don’t know what to say.
I spent a good deal of time sitting quietly and reading. Then I thought about Meg’s reminder to be kind. I also invoked the atheist version of the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. O master grant that I may never seek as much to be consoled as to console. Blah blah blah.
I have no idea why the prayer came to mind but I do want to know why people keep contacting me in very strange ways. And why was this woman compelled to speak truth to power and knock me off my smelly cat perch?
Coincidentally, one of my readers sent me a link to the online disinhibition effect. I suspect that most of us suffer from this syndrome. We are braver on the internet than we are in real life. (Except for me. I’m equally shitty in both worlds. And I have nothing to lose.)
How do you overcome the online disinhibition effect? Well, I have some thoughts.
- Where there is doubt, offer faith. When you send a message to someone, offer hope and kindness instead of criticism. Or don’t send anything at all.
- Where there is despair, sow hope. Based on my inbox, people are struggling. We are all fighting real battles. Unless your heart is in the right place and you have something tremendously helpful to say, slow down and stop typing.
- Stop seeking to be understood and try to understand. Everyone has their thing, right? Some people like cars. Some people like cigars. I am childless, married for a very long time, and I donate my time and money to animal rescue efforts. Why not? St. Francis, who is also the patron saint of animals, wouldn’t see anything immature about my devotion to animal rescue. And he wouldn’t find anything peculiar about my passion for social justice. And let me remind you that Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Yes, I pulled out the motherfucking Gandhi trump card.
So let’s circle back. Unless you’ve met someone in real life, don’t send feedback or bizarre messages via the internet. Ever. It never works. And your stupid feedback violates Plato’s advice. It is not kind.
And you hurt Emma‘s feelings, obvs.
Look at her. She’s miserable — and it’s not because her peculiar and immature mom thinks SaaS is boring and is making her pose for the camera. Not at all. Nope. Nothing strange to see around here. Keep moving.