A weird thing happened to me the other day. Like, weirder than usual. Like, weirder than turning up to a birthday party a week early, or dressing up my daughter as a small French girl for school, when there was no celebration, French or otherwise. This was a different kind of weird. This was the kind of weird where I was actively disliked by someone I’d never met before. Not, like, a troll, or an online person hitting all the angry emojis on a Kidspot story that I’d written. No. This was a real person. I met them, and they disliked me instantly, and that was weird.
Here’s the thing: I’m well aware that I’m not for everyone. I have READ the Kidspot comments. Hellz, I’ve read the comments on my own blog (you know the one that still stings? It was the one in which a lady commented to another lady – her friend, presumably – that my stupidity hurt her. My stupidity hurt her! That one stopped me in my tracks. I am many, many things, but I am not stupid. Well okay, I’m a bit stupid. Like, the other morning, on the way to work in the car, I spilled coffee down my dress, because I was using a cheapo Target version of a Keep Cup. Faced with the coffee stainage, and without an alternative, I poured a bottle of water over myself. I poured a bottle of water over a white dress. Which was – yes, I’ll admit – a bit stupid. But hey! No coffee stain!), but online negativity aside, I know that I’m not for everyone. We all have different tastes. Like, some people love Coldplay. That’s fine lads. That’s grand. I do not like Coldplay, but I won’t think any less of you because you like Coldplay (well, I will a bit, but that’s okay, I’m only human).
MY POINT IS, I might not be for you, but give me a chance to rub you up the wrong way before you decide that I’m not for you, okay? Like, give me a CHANCE before you join the ever-growing gang of people who really dislike Lisa the human. Don’t just join the gang of people who hate The Notorious MUM and assume that gives you automatic membership into the human dislike-Lisa gang.
As an aside, the gang of people who really dislike Lisa the human is actually rather big. It’s weird. For someone who’s a proactive people pleaser (me), I have a lengthy list of enemies. I’ve been doing a bit of pop psychology on this subject, and here’s my hot take on why this is the case: I believe it’s because I am so keen to avoid confrontation and conflict that I would rather block, delete and ban you from my life – online and otherwise – than engage in confrontational peace talks. Yeah, we could meet up for a beer and a conciliatory cuddle, but I’d rather just delete you and pretend you never existed in the first place. I’m not proud of this aspect of my personality; I’m working on it, but it does explain why I spend a lot of my life hiding behind pillars and post boxes and pretending not to see people I used to quite love.
That’s beside the point. The point is, you shouldn’t judge someone you don’t really know, even if you might have read their blogs and think they sound a bit stupid. Give them a chance to be stupid in real life, first.
It’s the equivalent of disliking someone because they look weird, or eat with their mouth open. That may be off-putting, but it doesn’t mean you should dislike them. You don’t know them! They might have sinus problems that mean they HAVE to eat with their mouth open, or they’ll die. You don’t know!
Which reminds of a situation I once found myself in. I worked on a magazine that shared its office space with two other magazines. On the other side of the office sat a girl – the editor of Easy Gardening, or some such esteemed publication – who glared at me every day I came to work. Every. Single. Day. I dubbed her “my enemy” and made plans to bring that bitch down. Then, one day, we found ourselves doing market research together, testing the chocolates in a Celebrations box (true fucking story). I said hello to her, because she was a familiar face, and she acted like she’d never seen me before in her LIFE. I was aghast! She’d been glaring at me for over a YEAR, while I’d plotted her demise. “Oh I’m so sorry,” she said, nicely, when I explained that we worked together. “I’m blind as a bat. I can’t see more than a metre in front of me at the best of times.” And then she turned out to be quite lovely, so how about that, eh? Don’t judge people just because they look like they’re glaring at you but in fact they’re just squinting at their computer screen.
There’s a lesson in that for all of us, I believe.