“Freedom of speech gives us the right to offend others, whereas freedom of thought gives them the choice as to whether or not to be offended.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Two things happened last weekend:
One ~ I got blocked by someone on Instagram! I KNOW! Finally, I'm controversial! Although the timing could have been better because:
Two ~ Unbeknown to me, Alistair Appleton, he of the dharma and dimples, suggested to his newsletter subscribers that I'd make a good Insta follow. Yep, right after I'd posted this:
Timing, they say, is everything ...
But who am I to pretend that I am anything other than a cheap visual boob gag? If there's a quip or a joke or a wry observation to be had, count me and my social media in. So you can imagine my bemused delight on discovering that someone had blocked me, that my flippancy had caused someone to reach their Official Zenith of Outrage and thus cast me into their algorithmic wilderness.
Look, I know how aggravating I can be; I meditate on it, like, all the time. So the chance is high that I've been blocked before but simply haven't noticed. (Between you and me, if someone's not directly in front of me they tend not to cross my mind; it's like they stop existing. My own children, for whom I would die, reproach me for not calling.) This is the first time that I've specifically noticed a ... er ... blockage(?) because the person involved helpfully DM'd me to point out how offensive they deemed me to be.
Here's the genesis of my downfall:
Something I bashed out with little to no thought other than to relay information.
Have you spotted it yet? Are you too hovering over your seat on an energetic cushion of moral outrage? I'll clue you in via a screenshot of the DM from this, oh dear, ex-follower :
Uh-huh. Okay. Although the connection to my post was tenuous, I could see h-o-www ... No. No, I couldn't. They were being a bampot. However, even bampots have bad days so I mustered some understanding and replied, "My daughter carries an EpiPen too".
I should have probably left it there. Of course, I should.
But I added a "?" to the end, which we all recognise as universal shorthand for, "My daughter carries an EpiPen too what's your point, Lady Lala of the Bampot Territories and the Federal Alliance of Mad?"
I know, my bad.
The reply fair rocketed in:
Gentle reader, do reread my original post then reread the above interpretation. Is it me?
Until this point, I had considered apologising, thus giving the emotional support and validation they obviously required. Alas, an apology was not to be. Had their criticism been well observed with a firm grip on the facts, I would have held my hands up, apologised and meant it. Nobody ~ bar Putin ~ wants people to feel upset by something you've said or done.
But the tide had turned; now it was my turn to feel offended. Not because someone found me less than hilarious, but because I was being shamed with shoddy reasoning. I felt I deserved better. Any apology, in whatever form, would be an out-and-out lie. I wasn't sorry. I wasn't even going to attempt to be sorry. Sorry was not to be. Except maybe for the fact that they had to live a life so devoid of perspective, critcial thinking and appreciation of metaphor.
So tout-suite, short'n'sweet, three points:
In light of such a vexatious, factually accurate, response they blocked me.
I spent the rest of the day fretting to Chris who, in the robust way of all men conditioned by society not to worry about somebody's hurt feelings, dismissed my concerns with a nonplussed, "But Trood, this person is barking."
Yes, but still.
As a yoga teacher and meditator, it would have been easy to conjure up faux-compassion for this person. But I didn't. I had sympathy, sure ~ I could cognitively understand that my post had triggered fear for their children and they needed to push back against that fear ~ but I felt neither empathy nor compassion. Had I empathy, I'd be feeling how they felt but all I felt was baffled/irritated/amused in equal measure. Compassion means a willingness to alleviate the suffering of others; the only way I could have done that was by apologising, but any apology would have been the hairiest of fibs and therefore worthless.
And yes, of course, I did feel snippy with her. Not for hurting my feelings or even for such wilful misunderstanding, but for spoiling my little unnoticed corner of the internet, my tiny playground where I can stack words and paint pictures and create stories to suit my whims. I'm exasperated that our culture of heightened individualsim with its braying moral entitlement places its victimhood before reason. To paraphrase Lady Catherine de Bourgh, "Are the shades of @tap_mat_snap to be thus polluted?"
After wrestling with the issue, I do feel it's legitimate to concede that this was nothing to do with me and everything about them that day. Offence was not meant, but they chose to take it for whatever motivation only they know.
The kicker? This person is a yoga teacher.
(And also an enormous fanny.)