Another aspect of the world sucking is the amount of people trying to suck you into their personal drama. This is especially true with social media, and I will devote an entire chapter to that later in the book. We are pulled in many directions at once, with people airing their dirty laundry or their latest cause du jour. We are unreasonably expected to respond to each and every little thing, and if we don’t validate what others are posting, we are perceived negatively. It’s not sustainable, and it’s not fair. What is important to one person may not be important to another.
This unfettered access to the whimsical thoughts of others is a problem, because we just don’t have enough of ourselves to spread out so thinly for others. We can easily get sucked in and lose ourselves in the drama of friends or family, and even with the best of intentions, we can end up ruining relationships in the process. Text does not convey tone, which is one of the main reasons emojis were invented. They allow an emotional context to be wrapped around the text we write, and they are useful for helping to convey tone and intention. Even with the proper context and tone being delivered, there is still room for something to be misinterpreted.
I have personally experienced situations where family relationships were ruined because the person reading text I wrote not only misunderstood my intention, they actually invented a new context that included words I didn’t even write in the first place. They wanted so badly to see a problem that they invented text that wasn’t even there. Their assumption that my text was malicious so tainted their interpretation that they inserted new words into my text when quoting it back to me. It got so venomous I actually saved screen shots of the entire conversation in case I ever need it in court to demonstrate how utterly insane this other person is.
When others try to suck you into their drama, use deflection to redirect the conversation. I never talk about politics or religion with others because I believe those are not useful subjects for polite conversation. They are subjects about which others are so passionate that too much unhealthy debate on those subjects risks long term damage to the relationship. If someone starts talking politics with you, choose to be selectively apathetic. Be I.C.E. cold (no Interest, Concern, or Enthusiasm) on the topic, letting them know respectfully that it isn’t a topic you are interested in. Then, move the conversation in a new direction and discuss a subject not based in subjective, controversial information. If you establish a precedent that you don’t discuss politics or religion socially, and shut the topic down every time someone tries to bring it up with you, eventually people will simply stop bringing it up. For a while, you might find that some people simply don’t know how to talk about anything else, which is a rather revealing fact about what they use to fill their minds.
Other people will always have drama. Drama comes from people butting heads at cross purposes or one person being an inconsiderate jerk to another. Be the wise sage in your social circles. Do not take the bait. Do not join the feeding frenzy. If you do, you might be associated with people talking badly about someone else just because you were in the same room. Believe me, this happens.
I had a friend in college walk up to me, slap me in the face in front of everyone, and storm away. I stood there utterly confused and speechless. She didn’t much speak to me again after that. I found out later it was all because I happened to be in the same room with two other people who were speaking poorly about her. I actually defended her in the conversation, but the grapevine effect misinterpreted and misreported what I said. The twisted and contradictory information reached her, and she took it as truth without asking me. I did nothing wrong, but despite speaking in her defense, I lost that friendship simply because I was a part of the conversation.
Some people seem to relish the drama, and will do things deliberately to pour gas on the fire just so they can gleefully watch everyone else burning, flailing around screaming and waving their hands frantically through the air. In social media and forums, they’re typically called trolls. Trolls are not exclusive to the internet. They happen in real life. I have known people who love to start problems between others and sit back with their bag of popcorn to watch the fireworks display. Watch out for trolls in virtual life and in real life. Do not take their bait. They are going to be dead someday, and their trolling of others is a reflection of who they are as humans: meaningless garbage with no value.