I recently had a heartbreaking experience. I said some things and my friends saw them in an unintended way and it lead to what could well have been the end of my wonderful connection to three amazing people. I think we have it sorted now, and I hope that we do, but there have been some valuable lessons in this experience.
The most prevalent lesson is this: the internet can ruin your life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the internet. I love the way it gives us access to everything on the planet and millions of people. It’s amazing. But… text. That’s the thing. There are limitations to text. We cannot truly express ourselves in this medium. There are not enough emoticons or bracketed expressions [sigh] to truly convey ourselves to the world. And in our desire to immediately share ourselves with others, we may even forget to use those few things that may be able to help us in this particular form of communication.
My three best friends and I recently had a blowout. There’s no better word for it. I was in full-on panic mode. My heart, full of love for these people, was breaking. I could not understand what could possibly have transpired to make things happen the way they did. I tried to express myself, but my pain came across as bitterness and anger, and only served to exacerbate the issue. And even that, my love of words and meaning, they failed me and turned against me.
I believe that we have sorted out the issues, but in the midst of our anger and personal hurt, it became apparent that the internet, and text communication through social networks, was greatly to blame. Not that any of us were faultless, mind you. We each thought our intentions were clear, each thinking that we meant the best. Each of us was equally hurt for things that were not necessarily the fault of the other. But in text, with no eye contact, no body language, and no vocal intonation, our meanings were anything but clear.
I don’t think there was one among the five of us that wasn’t hurt by what transpired. In the end though, it seems certain, a thing we can all agree on, was that the communication medium failed us. I long ago accepted that to most I seem elitist and harsh, and well, a complete bitch. While this is far from the truth, I was mistaken to think that all was clear among my friends and we were beyond misunderstandings. The medium of text failed us all, and made my words come across in ways that I could never have imagined.
I have long been a supporter of not only proofreading what you say, but of trying to make your intention clear. Be honest, up front, but always as kind as you can be. However, through this faceless, voiceless form of communication, mistakes are bound to happen, and misinterpretations will occur. We have to be careful, but also, and maybe more importantly, we have to be willing to truly talk to each other.
If my friends and I had told each other how we felt from the start, all of the pain we all felt could have been avoided. I could have re-worded or explained the text-related misconstruance of what I’d said, and so could they. But people often hold pain in, letting it steep rather than accepting that they might have gotten it wrong and just asking. I claim no superiority over anyone, but I have gotten to a point in my life where I hold fewer grudges. I understand that the internet is a bitch, and sometimes people see things through their own glasses not of rose, but of pain and anger and the general bullshit of life. I told my one friend I refused to tell them what they’d done against me, because I’d already let it go. That was the truth, but a truth few people have these days. Of course, in all of this, I learned that I’m not as good yet as I’d like to be, and I actually did have some pain that I’d been holding in. Luckily, it came out calmly and we all worked through it.
I’ve seen too many friendships and loves and even familial bonds fall apart due to something said and misunderstood online. I think we all need to understand that 1) People are not psychic, and they don’t know what we don’t tell them. 2) The internet can cause serious misunderstandings. 3) We all need to accept, and try to combat, the fact that we see life through our current pain or joy, and that may not always be what the person speaking to us means.
I pray that my friends and I are over this hump, and that we have all learned from this. If not, it’s my hope that we can come to that point of forgiveness and understanding. The internet is an unforgiving mistress, and we need to learn to adapt to a faceless form of communication. Not so much that we lose our humanity, but in a way that we can express our humanity through it.