How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People

“I cannot explain how much your e-mail touched me.”

Interspersed throughout this entry are comments that have been sent to me regarding things I have written or shared.  I have kept them because they remind me that I do actually have some talent for writing.

Not so very long ago, I was reminded that not everyone loves everything that I write.  Whether I like it or not, the response I received from one entry is probably going to be a memorable part of this year.

“It was a thoughtful gesture that made my entire month.”

Leaving out the sordid details, here is what occurred.  I was trying to sort out my thoughts on a matter.  I discussed them with a friend.  Using that information, I wrote up a little note, posted it online, and shared it with my friend.  We kept being friends, hugged when we saw each other, and generally all was well.  I sent it to another friend who had strong thoughts on the matter and they liked it so much that they asked if they could pass it around.

A year later, I thought all was fine.  Then I came across my Facebook account.  The friend deleted me at some point in this exchange, but not before leaving me a parting gift.  A rather lengthy note more or less called my post hurtful.  Claimed that I had betrayed their confidence and their trust.  That I was being self-congratulatory. 

It might have been the biggest online shock that I have received.  It read very much like a personal attack.  I thought about posting something in the comments, but that seemed unwise.  Akin to airing dirty laundry; I felt it would be better to discuss the matter in private.  I sent the friend a text that more or less said, “Apparently I have upset you.  I will try to give you some space, but if you’d like to talk it over, I will make time.”

“I’m pretty much gliding on air with my crown and cape.”

A few days passed.  I showed the note the friend had wrote (and the previous article they had linked to) to some close friends and family.  Of those I trusted, no one said that I was an evil person that was out to blow up the world.  They did suggest that my friend was probably hurting and that I should consider things from their perspective.  I sent another message a few days later, apologizing for my blog entry, and offering to erase it.  The response was, and still is, utter silence.

The matter upset me on two levels.  First off, I fancy myself as a gifted writer.  Am I as talented as I like to think I am?  Nope.  The attempt is a work in progress, so I am still trying to get better.  I have written hundreds of short stories, some plays, a few novellas, and I continue to find areas that need work.

So it gets to me when someone can misread something that I took time crafting.  What was intended as loving and supportive was somehow read as insulting and self-aggrandizing.  I want what I write to convey its intended message to all, not cause consternation and grief.  I find it hard to motivate myself to sit behind the keyboard when I might publish another article that will hurt my friends.

On another level, my sense of “I am a decent friend to this person” was completely wiped out.  About a week ago, the friend had stated, “I know that you try to be a good person”.  Some months prior, I had asked if I was being supportive of them and they had replied in the affirmative.  We seemed to be having a disagreement before this matter came up, but nothing that I felt warranted them removing themselves from my life.

“I was just reading your encouragement e-mail for the manyeth time…”

Yes, I use my life experiences in what I write.  And if my friends suggest that something I wrote upsets them personally, I have a go-to response.  I erase the thing.  I wrote a story in rhyme that someone thought was too personal to their situation and I deleted it.  I posted a video on YouTube of many people and one person objected.  So I deleted it.  If someone I care about asks me to erase something?  I do. 

There are a few caveats to being my friend.  I am rather terrible at attending parties.  Massive socialization exhausts me, so I have been trying less and less over the years.  I like to think I make up for it by offering encouragement and positive reinforcement.  Apparently we suffered a misstep on this one.

“Your personality comes through in your writing and you shouldn’t hide it.”

The part that I truly do not understand?  The post was online for fourteen months.  I sent them the link as soon as I had it.  They had fourteen months to object.  In all that time, I saw no shift in our friendship.  If they had gotten upset in that timeframe, I would have understood.  But over a year later?  That is forever in the online world.  Be punctual in your outrage. 

Also, if you put a gun to my head and threaten my cat, I am almost positive I had their permission to use what we had discussed.  “You opinion is as valid as anyone else’s”, I recall hearing.  I honestly thought my friend Okayed it.

There is something of a humorous side to this matter as well.  The friend only made matters worse.  I posted the article.  That other friend of mine said they were sharing it around.  In all that time, it was viewed about twenty-four times. 

I have tried hard to make this blog popular.  I have strived, experimented, and adjusted.  The results have been slight.  I am not the hub of internet activity.  However, after the friend shared it on their wall?  Decried it as filth?  It received over a hundred views. 

“Thank you for taking the time to write that!”

By calling attention to it, it was viewed three or four times more than it would have been.  I did not identify the friend in the entry.  (Please note the heavy absence of he/she or other identifiers in this post.  Same deal.)  If the friend had simply let it die a quiet death, it would have languished in obscurity.  The end.

I have not seen the friend since.  When they posted on their wall, they made sure to link to my name so that all could click and see who I was.  I waited a week and then removed the link to myself.  I like freedom of speech, I like having your say in matters, but when you are personally attacking me the expiration date is one week. 

“…that was the sweetest letter I have ever gotten from anyone- and I mean it.”

I erased the post. It felt like the thing to do.  Unless the friend went out of their way to copy and save the post, no one is ever going to see it.  I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around why that friend would completely cut me off.  But if it invokes that sort of reaction, then kindness dictates that I wipe the slate clean.

What more is there to do?  I could stand outside of their apartment or workplace with a big stereo over my head blasting apology songs.  That strikes me as being pushy.  I have offered, apologized, and erased; all with no response.  I learned a long time ago that both people have to want a friendship to work and so far the effort feels one-sided.  A family member says that I have done everything I can do and I can let God work it out.  “Keep watching and waiting in case there is ever an opening”, she said. 

“You have made (them) feel truly appreciated.”

Fair enough.  For now, there really is not much more I can try.  I was raised not to let the sun set on an argument, but it is like Mother Goose says.

“For every problem under the sun, there is a solution, or there is none.

If there be one, seek ’til you find it.  If there be none, nevermind it.”

I have been through friendship woes before.  One friend went over a year not talking to me and we get along fine now.  I have been yelled at once or twice for misconstruing relationships.  And, oddly enough, I have been disinvited from a wedding after something I said was expressed in a way that caused concern.  In the end, I have to keep writing and trying to put my two cents, and hope that my friendships will survive.

“Your words mean a lot to me.”

Or, if you want to embrace our, “One month left until voting!” mindset, here is advice from a politician:

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” -Eleanor Roosevelt 

I still want the friend to be happy.  I still would like to make amends.  It is the right thing to do.

“Do your best to live in peace with everyone.  My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you.” -Romans 12:18

I want peace.  I want those I care about to know that I love them and want them to be content with their situation in life.  I want my inner circle to feel that they are special and unique and delightful.  And I will use whatever tools I have to try to express my warm feelings for them.

“I cannot tell you how your e-mail made me feel.”

Sadly, that last quote can go two ways.  For the most part, my sharing tends to encourage friends and make them feel good about themselves.  In this specific case, it all went horribly awry.

About Cosand

He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.
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