“To the Mom in the Dark Blue Sedan...”
Last week I was about to make a left into the driveway of my kid’s school, and the lady opposite me was making a left, too. She and I started going at the same time, which would have been perfectly fine, except that the lady behind her didn’t want to wait, so she cut around, putting her car and my car nose-to-nose before we both slammed on our brakes, puckering us both up in the anal region nice and tight.
I realize this would have been my fault, if we’d actually collided.
I waved my, “Omg, I’m sorryyy!” at her, dropped my child off, then raced home to get on Facebook and make sure she hadn’t posted something in our neighborhood page about me and what a horrible person I am.
Thank God she hadn’t, and I checked throughout the day to make sure she wasn't just waiting for the right moment. I walked around all day, shifty-eyed and biting my nails, fearful of that other shoe dropping, hitting Refresh... Refresh... Refresh obsessively, waiting to see, "To the mom in the dark blue sedan...."
This is how a lot of posts in my neighborhood Facebook page start - as a sort of open letter calling out one of our neighbors for some mistake they’ve made, or some transgression they’ve committed.
Because posting on Facebook is how problems get solved.
One time I was scrolling through the feed and I saw a picture posted of a lady walking her dog, with the comment, “Anyone know this worthless piece of flesh? Her dog took a shit and she didn’t bother to pick it up.”
Worthless piece of flesh? Wow. Really?
Maybe it’s that side of me that always plays devil’s advocate, but it’s possible - it’s just possible! - that she’d taken a few poop bags with her, and her dog had already blown through a couple deuces, and the poor lady just didn’t have any more shit-collecting bags on hand.
Maybe she was going to grab one out of the next poop-bag-station that we have installed at intervals throughout our neighborhood, and she planned to come back and pick up this new pile of poo. That’s possible, don’t you agree?
It drives Mark and my friend, Chrissy, crazy that I always see the other side of things, that I’m always willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
They say I’m too nice, or that I’m weak.
But I don’t care about people thinking I’m “too nice.” I’d rather be nice than be the angry and apparently-perfect person on the other end of saying something like, “Anyone know this worthless piece of flesh?”
And I happen to think that the ability to see the flip side of things - to pause and take a deep breath before spouting off a reaction - shows strength, not weakness.
We’ve started using social media as our outlet for calling people out and publicly shaming them, and it’s just not nice.
Here's the most important part, though: Facebook shaming makes the poster look like more of an asshole than the person they're posting about.
I won’t sit here on this soapbox, all kicked back in fishnets and pumps, puffing on my long cigarette and blowing out self-righteous-shaped rings, and say that I’ve never done it.
For years, people have been posting in our neighborhood page about how unsafe it is to do a U-turn in front of the elementary school. People waste no time in posting a nasty comment about U-turn-in-front-of-the-school offenders, describing the car, or even posting a picture of them.
Last year I was attempting to parallel park in front of the school, but someone had done a U-turn from the other side of the street, landing them on my side of the street, right up against my bumper, which left me no room to back into my spot.
I was frustrated, but whatevs.
But when I looked in my mirror I saw this:
That was the driver - with her crazy-head flailing, shouting at me with her hair that looked like she’d combed it with a blender. I got all twisted up in knots, and - to head off her posting about me - I raced home to launch my Facebook attack.
I didn’t call out Crazy-U-Turn-Against-The-Rules-Lady, describe her car, or anything like that. However, I did make a snarky post saying something about making U-turns in front of the school, which everyone knows you’re not supposed to do, and then if you do it, then the last thing you should do is flail your arms around and yell like a damn fool. Or something like that.
It did make me feel better.
But it also made me feel like an asshole. Mainly because it goes against my policy. But also because the lady in question commented and said, “That was me, and blahblahblah…,” and then we got into a Facebook argument.
Which is just so ridiculous, and goes against everything I stand for.
The thing is - and you’ve heard this so much, it’s starting to become cliché - but hiding behind a computer to spout off judgy insults at someone else (who’s also hiding behind a computer) is cowardly.
But that’s not even why it bugs me so much.
What really chaps the hide between my butt cheeks is that people are so eager to point out someone else’s mistakes or shortcomings, and they want to do it in such a public way. Why?
Why do we jump at the chance to make someone else - someone we don’t even know! - feel bad, or feel shame, or feel... less-than?
Why is it that when someone makes us mad or if we see something we just don’t like, we rush to post our grievances on Facebook?
Why is it that the “new normal” is to blast criticisms or judgy put-downs on social media?
We shouldn’t be afraid that every time we make a driving mistake, or our dog has one more poop than we’d planned for, or anything else that happens to every other single person on the planet, we’ll be lambasted in front of the Facebookiverse <----it's a word, I promise.
We need to relax, y’all.
We need to stop feeling so high and mighty and so… perfect. Just be nice. Give graces. Take a little minute to see the other side of things. You aren’t without error - nobody is.
Got a confession to make? Have you done this? Does this stick in your craw as much as it does me? I'd love to hear your side of things!
While we’re on the subject: what makes you feel better about your life than watching an episode of Cops? Anwer: my book, You Should Write A Book! True Tales of An Unstable Life! You can get a copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or get a signed one by clicking below.