Whose Responsibility Is It?

Every so often I see or hear someone saying something along the lines of ‘stay out of my way, I’m [pissed off/PMSing/on the warpath] and I will rip your head off’. It’s pretty common, but with the emergence of social media it can be thrown around for several hundred ‘friends’ to see, without any context. I’m not a fan of the phrase, said to either people close to you or to the sum of your social circles.

Saying this it everyone you know says “I’m in a bad mood and I have to share it with everyone I know.” It goes even further than that, though. It tells everyone you know that you have no self-control, or you have no intention of practicing what self-control you have. The world revolves around you, damn it, and nothing silly like social courtesy gets in your way!

Saying it to people close to you is worse. It says “I don’t respect you enough to consider how you feel because my feelings are more important”. It tells those you love that you having a bad day means that they have to tiptoe around you. That privileging your feelings over theirs by fiat (rather than talking things over) sets up an unbalanced power dynamic, and that is a step down a road that can get very ugly.

No-one else is responsible for what you feel or what you do. Trying to make people act a certain way around you just because you’re cranky instead of trying to work out how to deal with the world when you feel out of sorts is self-centred and immature. Of course, there’s always the popular cry of “I wasn’t serious” comes up, and that’s no excuse. Even if you don’t mean it, you’re either saying it to a crowd that wouldn’t know your intent, or you’re saying it to people you care about and you dearly hope that they don’t see it for the immature power play it is.

This is the sort of behaviour that you expect from teenagers, from people still finding their feet in the world. That self-centredness should be put away with childish things, and replaced with a bit of empathy and a bit of communication. The people that never put it away can become the people that you don’t really want to be friends with as you grow up.

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