Running Amok with Social Media

~What you hear depends on what you were thinking before you heard it~

golden-whistleblowerI’ve sat on this one for awhile because I had to sort out what I thought about the whole deal. Read the post for yourself (Sexist Joke whistle-blower fired) but in summary, a woman overheard two professionals talking at the PyCon Conference, interpreted their conversation as being sexually suggestive and used social media to complain about it. One of the men was subsequently fired by his company, which cited “unacceptable behavior.” Shortly thereafter, the woman who had tweeted the complaint in the first place was also fired – for essentially the same reason.

The media and the public have had a field day ~ expressing opinions about the whole thing, often diametrically opposing each other. Both the man fired and the whistleblower have made public statements, also very dissimilar. Big mess with real world consequences for a lot of people.

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...
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I was actually thinking about the situation from a therapist’s perspective. Very often, one of the primary issues between my clients and their idea of happiness is the mental chaos that comes from projecting or ‘mindreading.’ Someone defined ‘projecting’ as …attributing my thought process to someone else and treating them badly because of it. The occasional client has been quite adamant about how good s/he is at mindreading, but when we actually explore what’s happening, without exception it’s projection …and s/he isn’t as accurate as believed. 

As intuitive beings, we have, to a greater or lesser degree, the ability to sense someone else’s state, and from that make deductions or guesses as to the thoughts that may be happening. It’s not that we’re never correct, it’s that we come to conclusions about the other person’s motives, agenda, or perspective, and this is where things go pear-shaped.

But it’s also a little more sophisticated than that. The projections are often unrecognized self-criticisms directed outward. Essentially, whatever I think of myself or say to myself, I  believe others think of me. I try to pre-empt the possibility of hearing the critical, awful, negative things I say to myself coming out of someone else’s mouth by “controlling” both sides of the encounter. I write a script in my head that the other is expected to follow. And when that doesn’t happen (I didn’t share my script) emotional wounds and conflict often ensue.

The remedy? Long term, learn to love ourselves, as we are; a mix of strengths and weaknesses, foibles and eccentricities, but above all, absolutely unique and priceless. Short term? Stop the mental chaos. Focus on listening to what the other is really saying, and respond only to what is literally said, or observably done ~ not to what you think discern, infer, assume, or believe about it.

Try it.

Almost always, there’s a different outcome.

As for the “whistle blower,” it’s hard to fathom how her actions represent anything positive. She was not part of the conversation, it was not directed at her, she did not ask any questions about the subject or context (“What do you mean by ‘farking’?”) and she then goes directly to social media with the picture and complaint based entirely on her (unconfirmed) interpretation.

Epic fail.

Talk amongst yourselves...

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