I never told anyone I’m special. I’m self-deprecating in a way that is almost painful to witness. I’m different — very much so. When the universe decided my atoms needed to be together in a package, the mold was immediately broken so that no other anomalies could exist.
I am different. I am not superior. I am unlike anyone else.
Because of this, I should know not everyone will like me. Not everyone will agree with me. Not everyone will stick with me as a friend until the bitter end.
So why does it affect me so much when people block me?
This past week, I found out that three people I’m on a first-name basis with blocked me on Medium and unfriended me on Facebook. I’m sure if I look at other places like Twitter and LinkedIn, it will be the same situation.
I have yet to figure out why these friends had a change of heart about me. Maybe I posted a political meme they didn’t like (Republicans and Libertarians are sensitive these days), or they got tired of me posting a play-by-play of my psychotic episodes. Maybe I made a comment that upset them in one of the groups I belong to on Facebook.
I don’t know. I may never know because the offended parties blocked and scooted out the door. They want nothing to do with me.
I don’t know why I let this bother me so much because I’ve been different since I was born. People have been ghosting me before the term “ghosting” was even used in English.
I’m sure I deserve it because I’ve done the same thing to others in the past to people who broke my rules of engagement.
The more I think about it, the more I think I do deserve it. A few months ago, I added a fellow writer named James Garside as a contributor to my publication, TMI: Too Much Information. James was new to Medium, and I’d enjoyed a few pieces he’d written. A few weeks later, I found out from a few other publication owners that James had published one of his pieces in no less than six different publications! The same article!
I lost my mind! I acted on the first feeling I had — which was that James knew exactly what he was doing and was trying to cheat the system to get ahead. I removed him from my pub, blocked him on Medium, unfriended him on Facebook, and unfollowed on Twitter. Every so often I would hear a comment from him in different places that he was truly unsure why I did it, and I was so angry that I didn’t bother to tell him anything other than “you can’t publish a story in more than one publication.”
I cooled after a while and forgot about the incident until I saw a post from him on a Facebook group. This post is the first time I bothered to hear his side of the story, and I was shocked. I wasn’t the only one that caused him trouble, and the bad circumstances caused by a newbie mistake almost caused him to quit writing on Medium altogether. Through my stubbornness and emotional reaction to an honest mistake by James, I made another person want to quit writing.
Who the fuck did I think I was?
Of course, I felt bad, but I felt worse for James. He’d made a mistake and suffered for it unnecessarily. When I realized what I’d done — considering the type of person I know I am inside — I set about to rectify it. For the record, not only did I hurt someone else through my actions, but I missed a whole lot of great writing by James.
I left James a note on Facebook and went on a friending and unblocking spree. I knew full well that this wasn’t enough to make up for what I’ve done to him. In the past few weeks, when I have a spare few moments, I’ll look through his archive and read. I know the best thing I can do for another writer is showing my appreciation for his work, so I have.
Why am I telling this story?
I’m not innocent. I’ve done nasty things to other people — other writers — and I shouldn’t get upset when it happens to me.
But I do.
I’m a worrier. I worry about what I’ve done for the friends to block me and unfriend me. I worry about the other people who may have been offended by things I’ve said and done.
I know, you are all going to tell me that I shouldn’t worry what people think, but dammit, I do! I worry about the image I put out there. I’m trying to do good things with the rest of my life, and I don’t want to be known as a mean, heartless bastard.
I don’t like people to think I’m stupid, immoral, clueless, fake, dishonest, racist, misogynistic, sexist, or innocent because I’m not. Maybe I’m too sensitive, but I care what people think about me. I care about the impression I leave with people at the end of the day.
Can you relate?
How would you feel about yourself had you done what I did to James? How much do you concern yourself over what people think of you?
I’m not going to drop any well-meaning advice about how to live your life without worrying about what others think, because I do, and I can’t quit upsetting myself thinking about the chance I may offend someone.
I know I need to stop worrying so much about everything, but isn’t this something important I should be focusing on? Shouldn’t we all be a bit more concerned about how we treat other people? I see so much hateful rhetoric on social media, and I think with all the problems in this world and society at large, shouldn’t everybody be coming together — not splitting hairs and fracturing relationships?
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to care what people think about me. Don’t you care?
What do you think?
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Jason Weiland is a writer, blogger, freelancer, and mental health advocate living a dream life in a place he only dreamed of as a kid. He talks about difficult issues but has never lost his sense of humor or willingness to understand others and help when he can.
He would love to connect with you on social media.