As you have probably have noticed by now, confrontation and conflict are things that provoke my fear the most often. Another prime example of this is communicating with people in the virtual sphere. Talking to friends on Facebook and texting with them is very pleasant, unless we have a heated argument. If there is scolding from the other person and the interaction ends with them saying something along the lines of “f*ck off,” I feel like I have been gut-punched. I have this pit in my stomach and feel miserable for at least the rest of the day. I might even feel that way for weeks. The more often I’m reminded of it, the longer it takes to recover. I had a job that was located close to home that I had to quit due to poor treatment by the employer. I had to drive past that business almost every single day. While the initial hurt wore off quickly, I still became angry every time I passed that place for years.
Online forums where you can post comments can also present a problem. If I post a comment to Youtube, articles, blogs, etc. and people comment that they agree, like it, or find it funny, I am happy. That seems harmless, right? Of course, if I do it frequently it can lead to obsession with getting likes and comments, which is partly why I have largely ceased commenting. But if I get negative replies to my comments, it affects me, too. If I get a disparaging reply comment that is hostile in tone, I feel the gut-punched feeling. I feel personally attacked, even though I will never meet this person and he doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall. Not to mention, it is very easy to sound tough from behind a computer screen. Despite knowing all these facts, my feeling of being attacked remains.
I like to consider myself at least somewhat self-aware. I usually have the ability to identify the particular event(s) and my subsequent reactions that caused me to have a certain attitude towards things. But, I’m certainly not totally self-aware because that isn’t always the case, such as it is with my personal reaction to harsh words, whether written or spoken, private or public. I don’t quite understand where and why that personal reaction began. That hurt also brings with it feelings of fear and dread. How long it affects me varies. If the comment strikes a nerve or hits a little too close to home, it will stay with me longer than if it did not. The level of anonymity and the importance I put on the comment I write are also factors. It will affect me more if I’m using my real name versus a made up one. I’ll be affected more if I’m trying to teach people or touch people with my comment versus making a casual comment. I know I’m not the only one because looking at the comment section of some of these webpages you can see whole threads of people arguing back and forth pointlessly. They can’t seem to let it go.
The way to get rid of that feeling as quickly as possible for me is to delete my comment. Those disparaging remarks don’t hurt if you never see them again. Another way is to turn off all notifications of replies to your comments. Out of sight, out of mind. But, it is easier and saves more time to not comment in the first place. Now I limit my commenting to forums in which I know virtually everyone and am comfortable with them. Where the purpose of said forum is to answer questions and help out people who genuinely need advice.