"Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world."-- Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements
I love "The Four Agreements". It's one of my favorite books. I'm exploring this concept today because I'm encountering folks who take things I've said or posted online and are inferring that I'm speaking to or about them, particularly on Facebook.
I'm always taken aback when this happens, because several presumptions have to build upon one another in order to reach that conclusion.
- The first is that I'm actually that close to him/her. With over 700 Facebook "friends", the odds are that's unlikely.
- The second is that I've actually seen or read something from this person that would make me post something personally about them. Again- see # of FB friends. Even those people I've labeled as "close friends" get missed in the scroll shock that is my Facebook page, unless I am directly tagged, and even then, I might not catch it.
- The third presumption is that I would lack the character or intestinal fortitude to directly confront someone rather than post a nebulous Facebook status in regard to him/her. This completely nullifies both first and second assumptions, because if you know me, you know I have no problem whatsoever with confrontation.
- The fourth would be that I have a cruel streak or am petty enough to want to make fun of him/her in some kind of nebulous way.
Many times, I will post an observation about what I see in general on Facebook or in other forms of social media. I find it fascinating how much people are willing or eager to share with those they've never met in person. The assumption of relative anonymity or facade that one has allows him/her to behave in ways they might not in person.
While maybe that's a good thing in some ways, in others, I think it might be best to be who you truly are. There are also other ramifications that aren't considered when one posts. I've seen teenage girls and young women posting pictures of themselves in very compromising positions and poses that they may later regret when they get a little older and are seeking employment. Or, maybe they won't.
This might also apply to those who plaster a string of insults, cuss words, etc... in a long litany of rage against some girl whose taken her man. She might regret that later- or not.
These are not scenarios I'm usually privy to outside the cyberworld. I don't normally see people standing on front porches screaming insults and epithets about the kind of um.. flexibility they have in the bedroom with their mate of the week.
It is rather fascinating, and a little disconcerting to me. I don't know that people tend to think before they strike sometimes, and I wonder what the consequences will be for us as a whole. But, that doesn't mean I've directed that at anyone in particular- I'm mostly thinking "out loud" or attempting to start a discussion. While I believe some private groups or one-on-one conversations on there can provide some degree of intimacy, I don't see public broadcasts of status messages as being in that same category.
That's just one example of how someone assumes I'm discussing him/her personally. I've had it happen on several occasions.
I like to joke around with friends who post things that seem personally directed at someone. I'll usually post something in response that makes it seem as if I took it as directed at me so they'll lighten up and get a laugh. Social media should be enjoyable. When it becomes more than that, it's time to take a break.
But, what if I was directing it at you? I wasn't, but let's go there for a minute. Ruiz says:
"Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up…."
The point I'm trying to make is while I'm just not that into you, neither should you be that into me, either. No one should have that kind of power over you. Your power resides within, as does your wisdom, magic, and love.
Ruiz: "As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others."
I am responsible for my own happiness and well-being. What you think of me is none of my business; and vice-versa. So, if you don't comment, give feedback or you just think this is all crap, I promise not to take it personally :)
Don Miguel Ruiz's book, "The Four Agreements" if available for purchase here.