Repercussions of an Online-Personal Attack

I know I haven’t posted a “musing” in a while as I’ve been incredibly busy editing manuscripts for myself and my clients. However, I just experienced something that appalled me to no end and rather than lashing out at the offender, I thought I’d try and work through my jumble of emotions here.

The situation:

A colleague of mine posted a picture of fruit trees lining the street of a town/city that had a caption regarding how this would help feed the homeless in the summer and fall.

My Response:

I agreed it was a ‘nice’ idea but perhaps not entirely realistic due to the fact that it would mess up the sidewalks and roadsides unless properly cared for.

My hope was simply to point out that ideas and ideals for positive change are one thing, but it takes more than a good idea to see it followed through to fruition.

My Colleague’s Friend’s Response:

He attacked me for not supporting this initiative (note, I did say it was a ‘nice’ idea) and blamed me for being more concerned about the tidiness of our streets than the health of our homeless. That perhaps I, like the refuse created by those fruit trees, out to be swept into the shadows and forgotten about.

My Response:

I don’t like being attacked. I was looking for a debate, not a defamation of my character by someone who knows nothing about me, and that I did not anticipate this kind of verbal assault by any friend of my Colleague’s.

His Response:

I’m her partner. Suck it up and face the music. Contact me directly and then you’ll really get a piece of my mind.

My Response:

[In my head, “Go F**K yourself!]

On facebook – nothing.

Her Response:

My colleague then emails me to apologize for the passion of this person and hopes I don’t take it personally.

Well, I am taking it personally. She’s a wonderful woman with sound, worldly values and I would’ve thought that any of her friends would champion these qualities as well – especially her partner. I told her it bothered me and that I would no longer be commenting on anything she posted online so that I can avoid behaviour like this in the future.

I’m not ‘unfriending’ her because she is a friendly colleague who I admire and respect. I just learned the hard way that not everyone she associates with has her same couth or willingness to talk about an idea.

The Effect:

I’m emotionally scattered at the moment. I feel anger, fear, repulsion, defensive, and confused. Why on earth would anyone lash out at another human being like that? I thought that only happened to teens who ‘friened’ the wrong acquaintances or adults who opened their ‘friend’ list up to the world.

I am not who this man believes me to be just because I don’t share his blind passion for helping the homeless. I’m a dreamer, but I’m also a pragmatist and a realist. I see the millions of potential outcomes in any situation, good, bad, or otherwise, and that keeps me from diving into shallow pools with rocky bottoms.

This situation felt like a snake biting me as I leisurely walked bare foot in my neighbour’s backyard – and will never happen again. At least if I can help it.

Thanks for listening to me rant 😉

fruit tree street

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Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Repercussions of an Online-Personal Attack

  1. I’d be willing to bet that this guy has never grown fruit trees. There would be rotting fruit all over the ground/sidewalks under those trees, making walking hazardous and attracting wasps–unless, as you pointed out, there was a good program in place for maintaining the area. I frankly feel sorry for your friend, having a partner like that; he sounds like a nasty piece of work. There have been studies recently, btw, about people who like to attack others in the anonymous safety of online forums which indicate that such people suffer from personality disorders. His inappropriate response to you and threatening tone strikes me as placing him in that category. Kudos to you for not being drawn into his fight any further.

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    • Yeah, I just don’t get it. My colleague is so level-headed, this is the last thing I would expect from someone so close to her. On the other hand, in her defense of him she said he was likely trying to ‘protect’ her… from what I’m not sure, but if he feels she needs protecting from her own friends then I agree that there’s more going on here than either of them is admitting to. At least she apologized to me for his behaviour. Still, I didn’t even wish her a happy birthday today – just ‘liked’ someone else’s comment about it to show her I was thinking of her. Now that’s sad. 😦

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      • Yes, it is sad. Your raw feelings about this will fade, but you will always remember. I have learned to be very, very careful with the comments I make on Facebook; like you, I learned it the hard way. 😦 All the best to you, M.J. You seem like a lovely, talented person. 🙂

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  2. Leaping on someone for expressing an opinion is uncalled for. If I had seen and responded to this graphic, in addition to the mess aspect I would have pointed out that fruit trees wouldn’t likely flourish in a city sidewalk location. If he’d done his research he’d know such trees are selected for their hardiness to vehicle fumes, salt-infused road spray, and similar challenges to healthy growth. I agree the idea is nice, but would be better implemented in a city park, or other public land designated for the purpose, with people assigned to carry out necessary pruning and disease control. Community gardens and orchards aren’t new options for providing food for those in need.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s like you read my mind, Carol. To me, these things are commonsense and anyone interested in achieving real change would do their homework! Not lash out at other people for simply being realistic and not idealistic 😉

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