To quote Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird,
“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Over the years, it has come to my attention, assumptions are made about people. To be clear, I’m not writing so much about obnoxious popstars, selfish billionaires and politicians who are informing the nation to drink or take a highly toxic substance.
No, this is a general emphatic commentary written or said in a public domain, without thought or consideration.
A few days ago, I was surprised by a fierce reaction to an ironic online article relating to positive elements of the lockdown (which did end on a serious note about mental health).
The assumptions from the article (which obviously has been read in full by the commentator) are numerous but to sum up the article the writer (a journalist) has copious wine delivered, doesn’t work, is middle class and doesn’t think or care about others. Plus, we should remember about people who are working and or have lost their livelihoods…
All this may be true. It also may be untrue.
In fact, ask yourself whether you have drunk wine during lockdown? Do you have to be middle class to have alcohol or anything else like beer or food delivered to your front door? Might there be a reason you don’t want to saunter around Sainsbury’s during the present time?
Yes, of course, we are all aware people are working in difficult situations. Plenty of people have not only lost their livelihoods but lost their loved ones, which is far more important and horrendous.
How do you know his circumstances? Or mine? Or anybody?
He may have parents with dementia, a sister in a care home thanks to a momentary lapse of judgement by a drunk driver, isolated or ill family members and so on.
Oh, but is the comment really talking about the journalist?
Assumptions are a popular thing at present. Armchair posturing about all kinds of things. Fair enough, if they are being inconsiderate, giving fatal, false advice to millions of struggling people, and in a position of authority, etc.
The trouble is, is the commentary. Behind a screen. Bitching.
Does the person offensively complaining online write to the local MP? Turn up to community meetings? Partake in volunteering?
Are you taking responsibility at all?
How do you know the journalist doesn’t? Or me?
Are you just letting off more steam derived from bitter resentment because an interesting life is different from yours? Or you think the person voted for Brexit or this government?
I’ve seen a video (below), read posts, comments, friend chat about how there are elements of positivity about the lockdown. We have all slowed down and found time for lunch with husbands/wives/relatives/friends via zoom, cleaning/decorating homes, reading, gardening, etc.
Yes, people write frivolous things about fashion, music, politics, exotic holidays, decorating, cleaning, etc. during a pandemic.
This doesn’t mean their close friend hasn’t been unconscious on a ventilator in Intensive Care because of Covid-19 or they are not worried about the lovely person stuck in a care home through no fault of their own.
People need a release. They need to watch a box set, read a book, walk, run, eat crap too. Oh, and having the odd bottle of wine and a laugh helps. A sense of humour helps too. All good for one’s mental health. It doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten.
Very few people know about someone’s life and the older you become, wisdom shows, unless you are very close to a person, you probably don’t know what really goes on in a person’s life. A person’s perspective and reasons for their life we cannot control or envisage. The rest is just smiling and chitchat about beer, weather or a recent holiday.
Comments are preceded by a judgement which is from our perceived understanding of a state of affairs. Writing comments which are direct and endorse underlying messages based on assumptions appears negative, disapproving and narcissistic. This creates, distance, versus connection because you aren’t displaying empathy.
It also says more about the writer of ignorant opinions. They come across as condescending, superior and judgemental. Don’t get me wrong, we all form judgements and opinions but the method of expressing them is important. Do not make the complaint personal and public. If you feel the need to enlighten the nation with advice, knowledge, opinion or wisdom make sure it is procured with respect and personal integrity.
Assumptions become a habit and aren’t necessarily grounded in reality and distort opinion.
I’m happy to receive comments on my articles. Constructive criticism (which I’ve had), feedback on content but not insulting views with underlying messages based on ill-conceived opinions.
Make no mistake, people mainly write about frivolous stuff on Social/Media. Some share advice, some don’t. Don’t believe their content documents suffering, worry, stress and their whole life or the appalling things that are happening worldwide. We watch the BBC news for that!
My friend sums it up:
Everybody has their crap, it’s just different crap.