No More Ms. Nice Girl Or:
It's not Okay to Treat People like Crap. Please Stop Doing It.
I've made quite the career out of being reasonable, measured, empathetic, and compassionate. I'm the one friends turn to when they're troubled, no matter what happened, because they know I won't judge them. I'm the one who's quick to take responsibility for my own actions and issues that contributed to a conflict. I'm the one who feels bad when I feel I've been short with or dismissive of someone else, even if that person didn't notice anything amiss. I'm the one who, when a friend is quick to judge someone, says something reasonable in a reasonable tone, about what might have been going on in that situation. More than one person has rolled their eyes at me when I've pointed out that they may be seeing things in a one-sided way. I'm the one who rarely uses shaming or judgmental words or calls people names, even when I'm upset at them. I'm the one who, on a recent first date, thought seriously about whether to see the guy again because he was so quick to say how much he hated whole classes of people. I can almost always see more than one side - if not several sides - to any situation. Yes, I'm one of THOSE people.
But you know what? There's one thing that's been making me angry lately, and I don't feel like being polite and understanding about it. This is it: It is NOT okay to treat other people like crap. It's not acceptable to make nasty comments in blog posts that you disagree with, simply because you're basically anonymous. It's not okay to string people along who are in love with you so they'll do stuff for you. It's not okay to cheat on your wife, no matter how unhappy you are. No. It's not okay, and there are no rationalizations that will make it okay.
It's not okay to denigrate people, to call them insulting names, to push them around, to manipulate their emotions, or to hit them. It's just not. It's not okay to stand people up on dates, it's not okay to lie, it's not okay to pretend you're something that you're not in order to get your way. It's not okay to blame everyone else for your problems. It's not okay to have come into adulthood without any understanding of or concern with how your actions affect other people. It's not okay to use people for your own ends. It's not okay to tease someone in a hurtful way because it makes you feel better about yourself. It's not okay to refuse to pay child support when your ex-wife is raising your kids. It's not okay to insult a woman because you're mad that she won't sleep with you. It's not okay to neglect your kids in any way. It's just simply not okay to be a jerk. Is that clear?
I'm so tired of people being mean, pushy, manipulative, insensitive, selfish, and cruel. Not everyone is like this by any means, but I'm tired of being so understanding and reasonable about the ones who are, tired of taking sole responsibility for my responses to behaviors that I find hurtful. Because you know what? They feel hurtful because they ARE hurtful. If you are an adult person who cannot act in a way that's even basically sensitive, considerate, self-aware, and compassionate, if you are an adult who doesn't care about the effect your actions have on others, then you are failing as a human being, and you need to do some serious work on yourself.
I understand why it happens: the cruel or insensitive parents, the media that trains men and women in the art of acting like walking cliches, the stress, the deep insecurities, the psychological issues. I get it. But here's something else: we are all human beings and we have very big brains. We have big brains because each and every one of us who is a normally-developed adult has the capacity to reflect on our own actions. If we choose to not reflect, than we are a jerk. Plain and simple. You can call it anything you want, you can give it a name that ends in "disorder." But the truth is that if you treat people like crap without taking any responsibility for it and reflecting on (and subsequently changing) your pattern of behavior, and apologizing with sincerity when you mess up, you're a jerk and that's the long and short of it.
I'm not going to appeal for politeness by calling on our innate shared humanness. Screw that. I'm going to call on our innate aversion to be called a jerk and say: if you are a jerk, please change. Stop acting like a selfish, cruel, insensitive (insert favorite name for male or female genitalia here). You can do it. I have faith in you. I'm tired of being polite and understanding about it. Just simply cut it out. Seek therapy, change jobs, move to another town, do whatever you have to do to become a decent human being. Because this world has enough jerks in it, and we certainly don't need any more. Thank you for your attention to this matter.