when friends make you feel crazy
November 8, 2017 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I had a really uncomfortable conversation with a friend yesterday and I don't know how to process it.

Yesterday a friend of mine, Ben, invited me over for lunch to discuss an art project we are going to work on this winter. For context: I'm a straight cis female, he's a straight cis male, he's about 12 years older than me or so, we've been friends for a couple of years.

When I got to his place, instead of talking about our project, Ben launched into a litany of unsolicited advice over the course of two hours: based on things I have posted on Facebook lately, he is concerned that I am letting anger and hatred take over my life, he feels that anger is a corrosive agent, he himself used to carry a lot of anger around at the world and made a conscious decision years ago to embrace the concepts of lovingkindness and forgiveness and he feels healthier as a result, he considers himself "in recovery" from anger, he wanted to talk to me because he is concerned and wants to look out for me. I think in his head this was supposed to come off as "big brotherly advice."

To me, this felt like extremely presumptuous mansplaining. He and I are friends but not close friends, he doesn't know a lot about my life prior to the time he met me or the trauma I experienced growing up in an abusive household and as a survivor of sexual assault, or the daily microaggressions I experience as a woman of color. He is a conventionally attractive, extremely wealthy, Bernie-loving-liberal (nothing against Bernie, I love him too, just trying to give some context) white male. He has loads of privilege in American society that I can never even dream of having.

MOREOVER, I don't go on Facebook and post hateful screeds day after day. My engagement with Facebook consists of these things 1) selfies and pictures of my cat (or selfies with my cat!) 2) managing the social media presence of my workplace 3) promotion of my own art 4) the occasional Kermit meme 5) sharing articles about things that are important to me, and occasionally expounding on said articles with my own thoughts. I live in a small town with a vibrant artists community full of people who like to talk and think about All The Things; this particular mode of engaging with Facebook is pretty much the norm in the circle I run in. In the past month, with the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey mounting alongside the continual shitshow that is the Donald Trump (an admitted sexual predator!) presidency, there's been a lot to talk about, and as a survivor of sexual assault and harassment I've felt pretty raw lately. But again, I don't go on Facebook and post unhinged incoherent anger rants; I'm a writer and I'm also not stupid; I am careful about what I post on social media and why and try to engage in a thoughtful manner. Sharing articles by Ronan Farrow and Rebecca Solnit and Lindy West and Buzzfeed's reporting on the Kevin Spacey allegations and talking about my experiences as a victim who was not believed once upon a time has been valuable and cathartic and led to some very interesting and valuable discussion with others in my community and my extended friend-circle.

I just spent a whole paragraph justifying how and why I use social media the way I do, and I'm irritated that I even feel like I have to do that; I think Ben has come to a series of extremely inappropriate conclusions about my emotional state and supposed anger issues based on my sharing of articles on Facebook about things that are happening in the world that I think people should be angry about, justifiably so. I also think women are socialized to be sweet and conciliatory and to not ever show anger or aggression and it's frustrating as hell. I think that at this particular moment in history for a man to tell a woman that Feelings: Ur Doin It Rong is a pretty gross thing to do. I think Ben saw me make comments about Weinstein/sexual abuse, and a Kermit drinking tea meme, and interpreted it as a cry for help of sorts, and for the life of me I do not understand why.

Ben is, in general, a very kind hearted, gentle person - he has a big eccentric streak and he is very open about his struggles with depression and he can sometimes be overly empathetic, he's also really terrible about reading social cues and he has very huge glaring blind spots about his own privilege. He's earnest and in general his interaction with the world seems very innocent and guileless; I honestly think in this case he had the kindest of intentions and has no fucking clue how condescending and presumptuous he was coming off. That said, I found this conversation we had to be very confusing and alienating and just plain uncomfortable. In the moment I did my best to explain to him where I was coming from and why I didn't think I had "anger issues" that were impeding my life, but I was definitely trying hard not to be overly aggressive in my responses to him lest I inadvertently confirm his beliefs (and also, being mean to this guy feels a bit like kicking a kitten). In the process, I ended up telling him way more about my personal life and my history with trauma than I was comfortable doing so and also let him off the hook more than I should have, and I'm frustrated with myself that I did that.

Moreover the more I replay this conversation in my head, the more upsetting I find it. I now feel like I need to be even more careful of what I post on social media and how I do so, lest I make Ben start worrying about me. I'm paranoid that maybe a lot of my friends think I'm seriously twisted up with anger all the time and Ben was the only person who thought he could broach the conversation with me. And I am resentful that now this is a thing I'm going to have to worry about; when there's already enough to worry about when it comes to self-protectiveness and privacy living in a small town.

After all of that, my questions are the following:

1) I didn't tell Ben in the moment how upset I was by this conversation. Should I address/confront him with that now, or has the moment passed? If I should confront him how do I go about doing it in a way that isn't unnecessarily cruel?
2) It feels very much like Ben has decided that I am his project; how can I make him stop without it turning into an ugly fight?
3) I feel kind of exposed and violated right now. I also had a really bad experience being hit on by a really aggressive stranger at an election-returns-watching party last night who had a lot of trouble taking no for an answer and I feel pretty shaken up by it; normally having an experience like that would prompt me to seek out friends for support but now I am paranoid that all of my friends think I am a ball of unprocessed rage or some sort of ticking time bomb of unhealthiness and I am afraid to go to them with a story about something bad that happened to me. (I realize that that is irrational.) Basically this conversation with Ben has led me to worry that expressing my feelings is unsafe in my community, or that what I perceive as my being a thoughtful writer and artist and person comes off to other people as unhinged out-of-control anger. I feel crazy now. I am not sure how to overcome this feeling.

I am in therapy but my therapist is unavailable till next week; I am doing my best to process this on my own in the meantime with the intent of discussing it at our next session.

I'm sorry for the length. I would be grateful for any input or reality checking as necessary. Thank you.
posted by thereemix to Human Relations (46 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
For me this would be an email situation, as it would give me the chance to be firm. I know I'd probably find it hard to write this without some kind of softening language a la "I know you meant well, but" - but the nub of it would be...

Ben. You surprised me with your conversation last night so I didn't express myself as well as I should have. I would like to be clear: I did not ask for, nor do I want, your advice on my comportment, online or otherwise. I am very happy with the way I express myself. I'll be removing you as a friend on my social media accounts so that I don't feel I have to moderate the way I express myself lest it be judged by you. I'm not interested in discussing this further with you.

Is there any reason you want to stay friends with the guy? You don't owe him your friendship, though as women we're so conditioned to feel that we must be nice to people even when they treat us badly.
posted by penguin pie at 12:28 PM on November 8 [53 favorites]


God that sounds AWFUL, I am so sorry you had to go through that. I hereby give you permission to forgive yourself for using whatever strategies you had to, to leave a really uncomfortable, shitty situation that you were not prepared for, with minimal damage. I know the feeling of having been "too conciliatory" and "shared too much" and sometimes it's just reflex bc it's a safe and tested way to handle a fraught and totally unexpected situation.

My next question is: do you want to stay friends with Ben? What do you lose or gain by keeping him or not keeping him on, socially, emotionally, and otherwise? Because clearly Ben has boundary issues. If anyone, ANYONE, short of my best friend in the world who I had actually said "I wish I weren't so angry all the time" at previously, with my actual human mouth, out loud, (or my therapist) did this shit, I would dump them like a hot potato. People are not projects. And the whole thing has this awful holier than thou vibe about it which says run like hell to me.

Lastly, I do not think your behavior which you've described meets any objective metric of "too angry" or "enraged". But here's the thing: your friends, your real friends, wouldn't care even if you were (which it sounds like you're not.) I am a hugely combative person in many ways. I am CONSTANTLY pissed about politics, about injustice, about horrible things happening on a global and a personal level. And you know what? My friends listen, and commiserate, and understand, and sometimes offer different perspectives, but no matter what, they love me and support me and let me deal with things in my own way, because THAT IS WHAT FRIENDS DO. They don't spring a random shitty poorly planned badly conceptualized intervention under the guise of something else. Unless you really want to do all the work of explaining to this dude why he's never, ever going to do something like that to you again and why you're justifiably upset about it, he is not your friend.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:30 PM on November 8 [14 favorites]


Eeurgh. Reading this, it seems to me like the problem lies entirely with Ben, not with you. I think the best way to cut this off would be to just stop engaging with him - you're just too busy with work, blah blah blah. If he tries to confront you directly about it again, keep it short - "Last time we talked about this I really wasn't comfortable with the direction the conversation went, so I'd rather not. *walk away or change the subject*" Any further explanation would just give him something to grab onto as evidence of your "anger".
posted by btfreek at 12:30 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


This sounds like it was more about him than it was about you.

It almost read as a religious thing to me: "come, discover the joys of lovingkindness / the love of Jesus and leave your anger behind like me", that kind of thing.

In which case, my answers to your questions would be:

1) Don’t tell him you’re upset, but

2) Shut him down. Send an email telling him that you appreciate his concern, but you want to discuss these topics with your therapist (if you feel comfortable sharing that you are in therapy) and not with him.

3) Go find some friends anyway. Tell them about Ben + skeevy guy. I bet they don’t think you’re a ball of anger & fury at all.
posted by pharm at 12:32 PM on November 8 [10 favorites]


Ben felt no compunction about just rolling up to your life and giving you his opinion. If I was you, I'd just assume that he groks and accepts that approach to human relations and do the same back to him. Not as revenge but just because by all available evidence, that is how he rolls. Tell him straight up (email, in person, whatever you're most comfortable with) that his comments were inappropriate and unwarranted and that you're not interested in being anyone's friend-improvement-project, but you are still interested in whatever art project you were initially going to discuss. Keep it brief and to the point (don't try to justify yourself or explain away whatever social media breadcrumbs he's interpreted as "angry"--that's not the point) and wait for him to indicate that he's either gotten the message and is ready to get to work on art, or that he is going to remain a condescending mansplainer and whitesplainer and you probably should just do a slow fade.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:34 PM on November 8 [7 favorites]


Both of you have it wrong. IT'S OK TO BE ANGRY, if that's what you are. Really. Anger is the natural response to the misogynist bullshit that women have to put up with and the idea that there's yet another fucking man out there who thinks that he has the right to police your emotions and tell you what or when it's appropriate to feel them makes me apoplectic on your behalf. Fuck Ben! And next time, tell a woman. Trust me, we all know what you're feeling and you don't have to apologise or minimise it. You can call it whatever you want, I got your back.
posted by Jubey at 12:36 PM on November 8 [127 favorites]


Wow. I don't think you come off as angry at all, even though you are certainly entitled to be. I completely understand where you're coming from. Today is literally the happiest I have been in a year and it's because of the election results in my state last night. This past year has been like a cloud of doom hanging over me and finally, a ray of light has broken through. I think if you think it will make a difference to have a conversation with Ben, then you should, but you don't have to.
The older I get, the less crap I am willing to let slide. Maybe that's where you are too.
posted by poppunkcat at 12:37 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


1) No, I wouldn't address that, hope he read your cues and figures it out unless
2) He starts that shit again in the future, and then "Ben, don't mansplain to me, I know you know what that is, and I know you're better than that." Maybe add "I let it slide before [that one time when this happened], but I will not in the future." -- repeat as necessary, and then ditch/distance from him until the problem is solved. This doesn't have to be mean or angry, just a casual no-nonsense air of "hey don't do that, you know it's not cool".
3) Don't let his shittyness force you into hasty generalization. He may have gotten the wrong idea, but that doesn't mean your friends haven't too

4*)These are some shitty scary times, and righteous anger is NOT always bad. Yes, some people become balls of rage to the extent that it hurts them and their loved ones. But condemning all anger because some people can't control it is like condemning all drinking because some people are alcoholics -- yes, people may do exactly that on both accounts, but it's not a sign of an especially well thought-out approach in my book.
posted by SaltySalticid at 12:50 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


he himself used to carry a lot of anger around at the world and made a conscious decision years ago to embrace the concepts of lovingkindness and forgiveness and he feels healthier as a result

Ben is projecting his past experiences onto your life/facebook wall. You say there's a 12 year age gap; was his anger-carrying time by any chance about 12 years ago? Regardless, that's a super fucked up thing to say to anyone. Speaking as a privilege-having dude, I would never in a million years consider any of that okay (or even thinkable, tbqh), because it's not. Tell him so or don't bother and just fade out, either thing is fine. It's not up to you to correct Ben, but if you feel like that's an undertaking you want, go for it. Dude probably could use a stern talking-to.
posted by axiom at 12:53 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Ugh!!! Labeling passion/emotion as "anger" is an eons old method to shut up women and people of color from pointing out real, true injustices in this world. I am angry just hearing this. While he may have meant this with the utmost kindness, it was unwanted and unneeded censoring of you and your thoughts. You have every single right in the world to those thoughts and feelings, there is nothing "wrong" with you for having them (and I would argue there is everything right about shining a bright enormous light on them), and he has no right to try to quell that based on his own discomfort. This is gaslighting. You are sharing a real emotional experience around a trauma. He does not get to dictate your feelings on that.

I would distance myself, set up clear boundaries (e.g. "I'm not here to discuss that, I am here to discuss this project."), and feel free to fade him out completely if he cannot abide by this.

It is in no way your duty to educate him here. If you feel so inclined, you might send him an article about tropes of "angry" women and people of color and reflect that his advice felt like that. I don't know that I would even spend the time.
posted by goggie at 12:57 PM on November 8 [11 favorites]


Several months ago, someone I knew (also about 12 years older) overstepped in a holier-than-thou way that seemed to come from Mars, much as Ben seems to be coming from some other planet. The magic phrase for me was, "I'll need to sit with that for a while." (Forever, that's how long I'll sit with it.) It's a slightly sweeter way of saying, "I'll take that under advisement." No follow-on drama was created. She feels heard, and I feel I've made it clear that she doesn't give me spiritual marching orders.

"Lest I make Ben start worrying about me". Let Ben worry all he likes. Sounds to me like he's puffing up his ego by being Older Wiser Ben and very likely using it to defend against his guilt about his own degree of underexamined sexism. That's his problem, and getting out in front of his problems by censoring yourself doesn't help him or you.
posted by sculpin at 1:04 PM on November 8 [25 favorites]


You are well and the way you express yourself and relate to the world is how you keep yourself well. You owe him no more explanation than "I am well" and, in making suppositions instead of asking you how you are, he's been projecting.

He should learn that if you want to help someone you express a willingness to be open, and let people know you're there should they want to talk. He forced a talk. It sounds more that what you're speaking about, and the issues you brought up, bother him -- not you.

Silencing people, or telling them they're angry or seem upset in order to stop them from speaking out, is the same impulse driving people to say that there wasn't so much racism until we had a black president, or sexual harassment wasn't an issue until people spoke up. It's hard to understand for people who don't face racism, sexism, and harassment regularly because to them, silence means "everything's fine."

That is to say, it's not about you, it's that when he doesn't have that bubble of silence, he feels bad. It's ok to feel bad when bad things happen.
posted by mikeh at 1:06 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Ugh, I'm sorry, he's being awful. I'm angry just reading your description of what happened, so no wonder you're feeling bad about it!

I'm a little surprised that no one else has mentioned yet that his conversation feels very much like he's breaking you down to try to mold you into his ideal woman. Full disclosure, I'm reading your comment through the lens of my own experiences with a terrible, inescapable harassing professor from grad school, but a conversation very similar to the one you had with Ben is how he started trying "to connect" with me. If you have any inkling that's the case, I'd just cut him out, those guys are irredeemable. If you think he's genuinely kind but clueless, other people have better ideas than I do.
posted by snaw at 1:06 PM on November 8 [8 favorites]


I don't think Ben is a friend worth keeping around. Look how long this Ask is! I tried to think of times friends have made me feel like this and came up completely empty. Good friends just don't treat one another like this.

Now, to actually answer your questions:

1) I didn't tell Ben in the moment how upset I was by this conversation. Should I address/confront him with that now, or has the moment passed? If I should confront him how do I go about doing it in a way that isn't unnecessarily cruel?

In a real friendship, you can tell the other person anything at any time. The fact that you're asking this shows that you just aren't comfortable with him in the way true friends are.

2) It feels very much like Ben has decided that I am his project; how can I make him stop without it turning into an ugly fight?

The most effective solution is to simply stop engaging with Ben. However, if you want to try and remain friends, you need to commit to saying, "Hey, thanks for the advice, but I've got a handle on things and don't want to talk about this anymore with you. What did you think of #NEWMOVIE?"

3) I feel kind of exposed and violated right now...Basically this conversation with Ben has led me to worry that expressing my feelings is unsafe in my community, or that what I perceive as my being a thoughtful writer and artist and person comes off to other people as unhinged out-of-control anger. I feel crazy now. I am not sure how to overcome this feeling.

GOOD FRIENDS DON'T MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE THIS. Ditch this loser.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:07 PM on November 8 [9 favorites]


You have the option of simply blocking him from your social media and ignoring the whole thing if that happens to be what will work best for you. If he brings it up, I would just be very frank and say "you don't get to lecture women or people of colour on the appropriateness of our anger. I value your friendship but I'm not entertaining that."

Or you can ghost him. Or you can unleash the furies on him. You can demand an apology. Or whatever. Literally any of those responses is appropriate and the only thing you need to figure out is what feels right to you.

But you don't have to apologise for whatever it is you say. You don't have to argue with him or hope he accepts your point of view. You don't have to make sure he's not uncomfortable or pained.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:10 PM on November 8 [19 favorites]


While you're figuring this out, you can put Ben into his own Facebook friend group and exclude him from future posts. No blocking required. He won't know. Sorry you're dealing with this.

In the meantime, I'd put a focus on building, mentally, a compassionate distance between him and me. I would meditate or draw with a mantra like "He has his own feelings" or "We are separate beings." He's entitled to feel what he wants to feel, even if it's completely wrong. You have the same right. You can let him know what you'd like to happen. He can ignore it or respond positively. You can respond based on that. And so on. If it comes time to "bless and release" you don't have to feel any guilt.

1) I'm not sure. I don't think there's a right/wrong approach here. If you use the ideas from my next answer, you could combine them with an alert to him about how this felt to you. I think combining the alert with some practical "And here's what I want you to do" steps would be helpful.

2) Perhaps come to an understanding that while he may believe you have an anger problem, the best way to proceed if that is the case is for him to give you space and allow you to work your own process. Find a way for him to feel thanked and recognized for his effort.

"I'm taking my own journey with regard to my health, emotions and wellbeing. Thank you for your concern, which I know comes from a good place. As you have expressed a desire to support me, let me know how you can do that. I need you to wish me well from afar and give me the space to do what I need in order to be well. Now that I know you care about this, I'll reach out to you if I need you. If I don't, then it's not the time. So please don't bring this up to me again." Maybe there's something else practical you can request that would take effort from him, but not affect you that much, like "When we have meetings like this, you can buy my coffee."

This gives a huge benefit of the doubt and is effort for you to do. It's a conflict-avoidant approach for cases where you have the energy and see benefit in maintaining some connection. Of course he's making you feel uncomfortable, so there's nothing wrong with putting that discomfort that he caused into the open. But you are under no obligation to go the "How dare you?" route or the "Hey, gentle soul, here's where you need to tweak yourself" approach or any other approach. It's your choice based on what you want and have energy for.

If he didn't respond well to the gentle, "benefit of the doubt" conversation then I'd see it as boundary crossing and would lower our level of interaction.

3) Keep leaning in to the relationships that give you healing and grace. Make lists of your friends and share only to those. I hope very much you can keep encountering people and spaces that are generative and responsive. I doubt very much that you're "too angry."
posted by ramenopres at 1:22 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


I have a sort of a Ben in my life, too. There's no such thing, IMO, as "overly empathetic" but also terrible at social cues in this way. What there is, instead, is the sort of person who invents a lot of what other people must be feeling and gets very invested in his mental image of that person's suffering--a person who is invested in thinking about himself as a Caring Person--but while he cares, the thing he cares about is not having the most accurate picture of who you are (or who anybody else is) but rather the copy of you who lives in his head. I'd say that, to riff on what DarlingBri said, your main problem here is that you value this like a friendship, but you're doing all the work of friending. He isn't your friend. He's the friend of an imaginary person who he is talking to when you happen to be there. I don't think you can emotionally invest in people like this and not have it end in madness. It works better if you figure out as soon as possible how much emotional investment you can actually spare... as if he were an acquaintance or a coworker, a collaborator but not a friend.

It doesn't fix all the world's ills and I still regret on an ongoing basis that the guy who is like this in my life will not be someone I can be friends with, because when I met him I thought we were so much the same. But I'm better off for not having to be his emotional support while he's treating me like a cardboard cutout version of myself and talking AT me instead of TO me.
posted by Sequence at 1:24 PM on November 8 [23 favorites]


Ugh this is such bullshit. An older white male telling a younger WOC that she’s angry? This is just so, so ridiculously cliché. (To anyone who doesn’t like angry WOC, here’s another right here – me!)

The thing is, Ben painted you into a corner. He told you he thought you were angry and how that’s a problem that YOU have to fix. To respond in any other way other than complete agreement and deference to his condescending, offensive, gross, mansplaining and whitesplaining assessment of you would just reinforce his opinion of you that you’re an angry WOC. It was meant to put you on the defensive. Just like the first comment you got on this post (now deleted – thank goodness and thank you mods) – you can’t win. Therefore, WE ARE ANGRY, FUCKING DEAL WITH IT.

IMHO, the only thing you can do at this point is disengage. Maybe not forever, but at least for a period of time. Protect yourself.
posted by foxjacket at 1:27 PM on November 8 [37 favorites]


Men looooove to police women's emotions, especially "anger", which means "emotion I don't want you to have". Fucker just tried to 'splain your emotions to you, lured you to his place under false pretenses to get you alone, and it's entirely possible was just trying to neg you into acting a specific way for reasons undetermined. This guy is a basic asshole and a misogynist and you do not need to apologize for having emotions or opinions even if he personally doesn't like them, because he doesn't get a vote. If he doesn't like you, his options are to fuck off, not instruct you in how you can be more likeable to him.

I think this guy has motives, and you should be wary of him.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:27 PM on November 8 [45 favorites]


Oh and yes, you are correct: this is a form of gaslighting, when someone tells you your feelings are wrong or that you are having them wrong.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:28 PM on November 8 [16 favorites]


Our anger is not the problem. The culture saturated in “acceptable” levels of racism and sexual assault and violence is the problem. Ben not being upset about that is a problem. Your anger is a symptom of something healthy in you. There is a self care path that does not numb that in you.
posted by sadmadglad at 1:37 PM on November 8 [28 favorites]


IF you want to have any empathy for him and give him a way to crawl back out of this hole he dug for himself, I would remind him that men's anger is a product of toxic masculinity. It's not surprising that he almost let anger destroy his life. Men are taught that they can be chill or they can be angry, so every emotion is translated into anger. Breaking up with anger is often necessary for men to get in touch with their other emotions.

Women need to break up with their anger so they can tolerate sexism.

I want to be so ecstatic that these conversations are finally happening. I want to be a gracious host to all the people who are finally waking up. Mostly because I'm a white woman, so I'm regularly on both sides of the privileged table. I know that panic and self loathing associated with recognizing your own privilege well and it can be hard to channel that into something that is useful.

But the reality is that I'm flooded with grief that we're finally having these conversations. I'm mourning the generations that died never getting this social validation, and my childhood convinced that this was not worth changing. I'm drowning in fear that we're going to have this conversation and then just drop it by the next news cycle. There's guilt that I should have spoken up more. And anger that when I would speak up, others would minimize the problem.

Your relationship with anger is so different from his, even if he recognizes and wants to help, he doesn't have appropriate context to do so. He can't expect his journey to translate to yours. And if your emotions cause so much distress for him that he needs to provide unsolicited advice, he clearly needs to step back and reevaluate if his grasp on regulating his emotions is at a healthy place.
posted by politikitty at 1:42 PM on November 8 [34 favorites]


I agree with everyone here. I want to especially echo the encouragement to seek out female friends (and/or family) and check things out with them. I guarantee no one else is worried about your corrosive anger. Ugh.

Let's assume that Ben had the best of intentions. The appropriate course of action would be to say, "hey, thereemix, thanks for coming over. Before we start, how are you doing? I know I've been feeling really down with all of this Trump BS. Are you coping okay? Are you taking care of yourself?" That might also come across as a little condescending, but my point is that if he's genuinely worried about you then he should be giving you space to talk if you want to. Instead he talked at you.

If you feel ready in time, this guy sounds like maybe he's ripe for an instructive email. But it is not your responsibility to set him straight. It's your responsibility to be happy and healthy, and if that means cancelling the art project and minimizing contact with him, THAT IS OKAY. YOU ARE AWESOME.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 1:45 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


this guy is bullshit and it sounds like you just had your first encounter with the tip of his bullshit iceberg. I would be willing to bet vast sums of internet points that the best option here is to hide your fb posts from him and fade.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:45 PM on November 8 [4 favorites]


1. Do you still want him as a friend? It's ok to take a break, block him on Facebook for a while, and just let things drift a bit. I've had similar experiences and have usually flagged it and moved on; our friendship has suffered but that's ok, because it's usually been shored up by my placating/emotional labor/unreciprocal effort and when it ebbs, that's less work for me! Seriously. Think about what you are getting out of this friendship--it sounds like he was pretty egregious in his assumptions about you and the familiarity of your relationship. I'm finding in this political climate that people are really showing their true colors, and I feel no remorse in just removing people from my life if it's hurtful to me to remain their friend.

2. You can just disengage. Seriously, don't listen to his shit. You're not wrong. He can't make you into a project if you don't let him. If he starts in, leave. If he posts on social media, delete it and block him. You can try to say, once, "I will not censor myself for your convenience. If you are having a personal reaction to my entirely justified anger over current events, that's a personal problem. I will not be entertaining conversations about it", but be prepared to cut him off and walk away if he tries to debate. Think about it--why is he trying an intervention? Because it's uncomfortable for him. Fuck him.

3. I got angry just reading your post!!! Like, my heart is racing and I'm having a total adrenal response on your behalf. You are not wrong. You are not crazy. You're justified. Expressing your feelings in your community might be unsafe, if they are like Ben--only you know that. And please try to be gentle with yourself about your reaction in the moment of conversation (sharing more than you wanted); it sounds like that conversation was traumatic in itself and the old flight/fight/freeze/fawn reaction is still strong in those of us with past trauma. You're not wrong. You are not crazy. You're totally justified in your feelings. And your local friends might be kinda shitty but in general, if a female friend of mine came to me (or a stranger! like, if you live in eastern WA I will take you out for drinks TONIGHT) with a story like yours, I would be SO PISSED for her/with her and we would go out and get cupcakes or champagne and just talk shit about how fucked patriarchy is and how of course we're angry and of course it's inconvenient for them!! As Lindy West says, "They suppress our anger for a reason. Let’s prove them right."
posted by stellaluna at 1:47 PM on November 8 [4 favorites]


1) I didn't tell Ben in the moment how upset I was by this conversation. Should I address/confront him with that now, or has the moment passed? If I should confront him how do I go about doing it in a way that isn't unnecessarily cruel?

If you want to stay friends with him, it's worth having the conversation. I am not sure I would do so in this situation 'cause I don't like friends passive aggressing at me for not being their ideal friend who has no opinions. But if you do, definitely assert that you are upset because he made a lot of assumptions without talking to you about it, and he presented "solutions" without understanding if there was a problem -- and indeed what the problem is. Which is definitely not you! Anger is okay regardless but it doesn't even sound like you were expressing that much of it.

I have a friend who has deactivated and had banned FB accounts and is seriously honestly angry 2342343 times a week and you know what? Sometimes I do actually skip their posts. And once or twice I've said hey, are you ok? But that's it. It's not my job to stop them or psychoanalyze them or tell them to go to yoga, it's my job to decide who gets me as a friend. Things I intervene with friends about: drugs, drunk driving, putting their kids in the middle of custody battles, not following up on cancer diagnoses. Things I don't intervene with friends about: anything on their social media feed.

2) It feels very much like Ben has decided that I am his project; how can I make him stop without it turning into an ugly fight?

Tell him that lovingkindness is not about hammering other people for not getting it right. It's about accepting people where they are YEESH I AM SO ANGRY ON YOUR BEHALF.

3) I feel kind of exposed and violated right now. I also had a really bad experience being hit on by a really aggressive stranger at an election-returns-watching party last night who had a lot of trouble taking no for an answer and I feel pretty shaken up by it; normally having an experience like that would prompt me to seek out friends for support but now I am paranoid that all of my friends think I am a ball of unprocessed rage or some sort of ticking time bomb of unhealthiness and I am afraid to go to them with a story about something bad that happened to me. (I realize that that is irrational.) Basically this conversation with Ben has led me to worry that expressing my feelings is unsafe in my community, or that what I perceive as my being a thoughtful writ

Two things.

1. You're having that reaction because he violated a boundary. The boundary is, don't assume your friends are somehow broken based on a few FB without asking them first and also don't pretend you are some kind of life expert and launch into them. So, you're right to be upset _ AT BEN. But

2. Don't go down a similar road and assume all your friends somehow think like Ben or are Ben or are arbitrating some Scale of Acceptable Social Media or are behaving like a junior high clique something. If you have a particular friend you're worried about having somehow upset, ask him/her! Otherwise do them the favour of perceiving them as individuals separate from Ben.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:03 PM on November 8 [5 favorites]


Bleah. Bleah.

I wish I could have every moment back that I have spent in my life as a young woman being told what to think and feel by a (generally older) man.

They don't know shit. They believe that they have a right to correct you and guide you because of how fucking valuable their insight is, but they know nothing at all. (Unless what they're trying to tell you is what it's like to be a man. Maybe. Maybe.)

I like the phrasing penguin pie used in the first response above. While just blocking him from your FB and moving on without further engagement is an ok way to proceed, I think you'll feel better if you tell him something like this first:

"Ben, I've been thinking about what you said to me last night. Your peculiarly timed salvo of personal criticism took me so much by surprise that I really didn't know what to say at the time. I think it's worth letting you know that I am not at all interested in having you critique either my Facebook style; what you perceive to be my "anger"; or my justification for my own feelings. You are welcome to skip reading my Facebook feed as you seem to find it bothersome, and I will not tolerate patronizing lectures from you in the future."
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:04 PM on November 8 [4 favorites]


I mean, I want to say something helpful, but all I‘m hearing from this guy is „reading your angry facebook posts, a lot of which are about how shitty men are, made me feel very uncomfortable and like you‘re talking about me! But I can’t be mad about it because I’m woke! So I need you to stop making me feel bad. There must be something wrong with you that you‘re doing this to me. That‘s me being charitable by the way.“
posted by Omnomnom at 2:04 PM on November 8 [43 favorites]


Reformed angry people are the worst! I am so sorry that happened to you. I am an angry middle aged woman. I do my best not to make anger other people's problem but I do get annoyed when my anger or irritation that is in my own place/space is seen as "a problem' by someone who is not living my life.

At the same time, I have some level of manners which means sometimes when people are giving me their unwanted advice (or other things that not only make me irritated but push some bad buttons from when I was a kid, not their fault but just what's happening) I wind up getting deeper and deeper into a hole of "This feels BAD" without maybe doing what I need to do to get out of the situation. I don't know if this is part of why you may be feeling super weird and violated but if it were me that would be part of it. It's part f why I stay off the phone. Someone will start a discussion I do not want to participate in and my brain is saying SHUT UP and my etiquette dictates I sit and listen but it's very uncomfortable and feels non-consensual. Like I KNOW I should have cut off the bad convo sooner but just ... couldn't for various reasons that have nothing to do with this person.

So I think you can make a choice about Ben, whether to try to sort of move forward trying to work out a friendship with him or not. Both are valid paths to take in my opinion. But if you keep him around I'd follow the advice other people are giving you, firm boundaries and just "This is no longer a conversation I want to have with you" shutdown. Not like "Let's talk about what happened" more like "These are some decisions I have made about that" If that's okay with him, great. If not, then it's a good thing to know about him.

And maybe see if you can connect with other friends and get a temperature test about whether they feel like you are an unprocessed ball of rage, if you care (it's ok not to!). I've been grieving a lot these past few months and I've found asking people I care about if I "seem ok" has helped me calibrate a little, given me a chance to talk about my feelings without feeling judged by them.
posted by jessamyn at 2:46 PM on November 8 [8 favorites]


It's not you! #HimToo!

Men all over Facebook are doing this exact little idiot dance over #MeToo. We had one locally went on facebook and said, "My sisters! Know I am your ally! I'm completely wrecked emotionally by all this! Never would blame the victim of course but seems to me if the casting couch never worked for these guys, they'd quit trying, you know, like don't feed the alligators! Ladies, ever thought of that? Clever angle, huh? Whaddaya say, come at me, I'm strong, I can take it!" Of course everybody responded that... Well. To put it as gently and neutrally as possible, they told him that his alligator analogy was flawed. Some actually were gentle. Some were somewhat less so. So he flew into a passion and unfriended every woman in the thread. And this is happening all over the globe.

Did you catch that askme thread this summer with the WOC whose childhood friend Becky went off on a racist rant about confederate statuary? Destroying OP's peace of mind and ruining days and days of her life? And in addition Becky wanted OP to be at her wedding and made OP promise to name her first child Becky? That thread went on for days and several feet, and a few people tried to say that she owed it to the friendship to try to make Becky not be a racist. But OP was so upset her stomach was hurting her! Hell to the no, she did not owe Becky! Becky was overpaid already in that OP had ever been her friend at all! Anyway, it's Becky's job to fix Becky; she was on purpose trying to fling it off on OP to avoid work. Ditto Ben: he senses there's a project and he's deathly afraid it's him, so he's desperately trying to make it be you, instead.

You should feel beautiful about the way you handled this. You were kind to Ben, in that you weathered his 'splaining with patience and grace and left his society without verbally maiming him, although he was practically begging you to. You resisted doing work you should really not do and got out with the least possible expenditure of effort. There was no non-messy way out of that. Nothing you could have done would have felt clean and perfect because the situation was created by Ben to be a hopeless mess from the ground up, and the interaction was all shot through with lies and manipulations. Just get out of it, is the only thing you can do, and that's what you did, and good for you.

I beg you not to make Ben your project. He is too, too much very unpleasant work, and I can't stand to think of you doing it. Feel free to smile and thank him for honoring you with his thoughts and let him know you'll "sit with it" (genius phrase) and then never the hell talk to him again. Or you can "go off in a blaze of anger," as my friend C. used to advise me when we both worked as receptionists at Planned Parenthood and the Crisis Pregnancy Centers would call to proselytize.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:15 PM on November 8 [13 favorites]


Adding to the chorus of those who are validating your right to feel angry and to place the responsibility for the ickiness of this encounter back on Ben, instead of yourself (despite our entire culture that would like to encourage you to believe that this icky encounter was somehow your fault).

Given how beautifully, thoughtfully, and honestly you've expressed yourself in this AskMe post, if you think Ben may be able to receive and reflect on your thoughts and version of the story, I would just send him a link to this post and the comments (maybe with a note saying "hey I know you may have had good intentions, but here's how it felt for me, and here's what the internet thought").
posted by sleepingwithcats at 3:15 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I think it was smart you listened to your gut not to speak up at the time, because it was an unexpected emotionally-charged interaction with an older white man who had invited you (alone) to his home with a previous understanding that the time would be spent focused on something else. This is the level of awareness for potential violence that women have to bear the emotional labor for on a routine basis (if something did go wrong, how wrong would you be for not recognizing those factors going into that encounter to begin with, etc). You did well for yourself there.

If I should confront him how do I go about doing it in a way that isn't unnecessarily cruel?

If I were you, next time you talk to him, be direct about the fact that it was uncomfortable. Directly reflect back to him that he seems to be struggling with something that happened to him (not something that's wrong with him), and that you can't be the person to help him figure it out.

If you're willing to be extra-gracious with Ben, if you do talk, you could reflect to him that he needs to learn where his boundaries are. That not having experience in practicing good boundaries is part of how toxic patriarchy/masculinity/racism exists like it does. It wasn't good boundaries when you ended up regurgitating your life story to him because that did reinforce that he has unfettered access to your life story in a way that is rarely (=never) reciprocated in North American culture. It would have been good boundaries for him to recognize that in soliciting your life story from you, he was taking more than he was giving, and that's never good in any friendship... let alone a friendship with a (#1) younger (#2) woman (#3) of color. Other posters aren't wrong to hone in on the fact that he had those 3 power and privilege cards stacked against you, so to speak, in creating a safe opportunity for himself to unpack that baggage. That doesn't make him a bad person, but if he's invested in keeping your friendship, it's a level of awareness he needs to step up.

If you really feel like he is sincerely looking for answers, maybe articulate to him once that he is following the behavioral strategy that privileged white men in North America have followed for generations now -- when they experience an anxiety within themselves, they need to find something wrong in others to "fix". (bwahahaha I laugh from the crazy because this was my imperfect white dad to a tee!)

Finally, if you think it's possible, let Ben know you're stepping back from the friendship for a while (to give space for your own trauma to breathe) and that when he thinks he's better educated in trauma-informed awareness, and what his role as an older white man in society has with that awareness, you would be open to resuming the friendship again. Basically, a break + better boundaries + trauma-informed awareness = a reasonable path forward for the friendship from here.

At the very least, if he considers himself to have more empathy than a psychopath, he should take it upon himself to understand that when someone regurgitates their traumas stories to you, there are steps a+b+c you should be taking to make sure you're not making their suffering worse in having them strip back all the bandages from their invisible wounds. If he honestly had these skills, that conversation could have happened without you feeling violated by it. You could reflect in good faith to him that better boundaries + trauma-informed awareness would actually work well to further promote his recovery from anger as well as depression, and that he is very much capable of developing this skillset. Good luck however you decide to proceed.
posted by human ecologist at 3:18 PM on November 8 [4 favorites]


Give yourself the gift of getting up and walking out the next time someone pulls a bait and switch on you like that.
posted by jbenben at 3:40 PM on November 8 [12 favorites]


I was going to say, even if everything he said had been true, there's never an excuse to stage, like, a formal personality intervention on somebody. that "never" is probably not perfectly true, but the only times when it would be acceptable to do such a thing are times when it would also be appropriate to call the cops or the hospital.

so, my opinion remains: this thing he did, making you come over so he could tell you to adjust your self to suit his preferences, this is Hannibal Lecter-style god delusion. it is fucked up, inexcusable, and dangerous. that may seem like a joke because this guy kind of sounds like a joke, and he definitely sounds like the kind of guy who doesn't come across as together enough to be a threat. but what he did is not normal and I would not trust him to respect other normal boundaries. is it possible he's so deluded he thinks he was just being a nice friendly helpful guy trying to help out a friend with some real talk? sure, and that makes it worse. nothing worse than a predator who really believes in himself.

For your own safety I don't think you should remain friends or allow him to believe you are willing to speak to him again, unless it's to tell him what's wrong with him, since he's clearly open to that. he is probably only a threat to your emotional safety, but that's plenty real enough to matter.

and also, being mean to this guy feels a bit like kicking a kitten

that is a tool and he is using it. using it, using it on you, using you. that pity you feel for him is his power. you are the one getting kicked.
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:53 PM on November 8 [11 favorites]


I know you don't want to be mean to Ben---and I won't suggest that you should be, if that's not how you operate!---but even if you take the gentle approach, I think you would also have been totally justified in laughing in his face and telling him "No, dude, you have no fucking idea what you're talking about, just stop talking before you dig yourself in any deeper" and letting *him* be the one to deal with being uncomfortable. Not that you should do that. But it would not be an unreasonable response if you did.
posted by Meow Face at 4:52 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


I'm a middle-aged white lady. Except for dropping likes and pleasant comments on what my friends post, everything I've posted on Facebook for the last several months has been about politics, like I'm standing on a chair waving and yelling "hey, people you need to know about this." There's no minimum amount of neutral content you have to post on Facebook to be allowed to post opinionated opinions, even loud ones, IMNSHO.

It sounds like you think this guy has some redeeming human qualities. If you prefer to stay friendly with him, I feel like you should give yourself some space, give him some time, and then give him some truth. Also, and I'm spiteful like this, for Xmas you could sharpie him a mug (or paper cup) that says "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention."

To be a little meta, there's a bit of a parallel between him giving you unsolicited personality realignment tips, and the way we give solicited advice here on the green. And that is that we see other people's stories through a distorting filter of our own experiences, emotions and limitations. Maybe he was doing that. Seeing his own pattern and being sure that his remedy would be just what you needed.

Still, a good friend who was distressed about your distress, wouldn't lie to you in the setup. For a sincere friend, who is playing fair, a good approach would be asking if you could meet at a coffee shop to discuss something. Doing it at his place slants the playing field. Lying about the topic and purpose of the get together, rather than saying "I have something I want to talk to you about" is a bad approach.

Sometimes when I get so angry that I can't keep track of who said what, I discover that the other person has been really fricking rude to me.

I had a mom who didn't have boundaries, and I think your friend's "loving kindness" is sort of dangerous if he doesn't moderate it with some boundaries. (Someday you can jump out from behind a bush and surprise him with a really tedious slide show about Boundaries, followed by a pop quiz and tedious explication of the Right Answers, and then he'll know what you feel like. /end snark)
posted by puddledork at 5:50 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Please don't police yourself on FB because of Ben. There are people on FB who post things that bug me and ya know what? I don't read them. I unfollow or just skim past those posts. It is not on them to change what they post so I can be okay. You can also unfriend Ben or adjust your settings so that he can't see your posts.

1) Whether to bring this up with Ben is entirely up to you. One way to say it that's straight forward but not cruel might be: "I was very taken aback by our conversation the other day and uncomfortable. I don't want an apology or any further discussion, but please don't do that again. I do not want to be someone else's "project." If you're truly concerned about my state of mind, just ask me how I am and give me space to talk." (Last sentence optional - keeps the door open on friendship).

2) Honestly I'd just withdraw. Back out of the art project. Don't spend time with him one-on-one (I'm assuming this will curtail the advice-giving).

3) I think it would be good to talk to a friend you trust. You don't have to start with the whole story, you can lead with whatever you feel most comfortable sharing. "Something odd happened to me the other day - someone told me they thought I had a problem with anger. It really surprised me. Do I seem that way to you?"

Other people's anger terrifies me - childhood stuff and my own anger issues. But that's my problem and it wouldn't be right for me to tell other people to stop being angry or stop talking about it. I could ask someone in an intimate relationship to think about how they share their anger with me, and I can tell friends that I have limits when it comes to how much outrage chatter I can handle, but policing FB feeds? That would be super-inappropriate and weird.
posted by bunderful at 5:50 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Some of my overnight-gadfly friends have become increasingly evangelical with their “Lookit My Wokeness Albeit My Privileged Beginnings!” social media posts since the election. In the beginning I tried to engage where I saw common ground, but it felt like comments that didn’t flatter them were dismissed or deflected.

So I stopped engaging their posts, but sometimes dared to post my own lukewarm takes on the news. A few times I vented my frustrations about misogyny/racism/anti-Semitism/Islamophobia/social Darwinism creeping into some aspects of The Resistance*. Almost immediately, one friend would ask me to meet for drinks or coffee right away. “Everything OK?” “Yeah, I just want to catch up.” But it was always last-minute, and always turned petulant if I said “I’m super busy; can we rain-check?” “Actually, I really need to talk to someone tonight.” Oh, OK. An emergency, maybe, or big news.

Aaaaaand, nope. Those coffee or drink dates turned out to be referenda on my “anger” problems or my “feeling threatened” or my “projecting based on (my) experiences” (which were somehow, curiously, not my Lived Experiences; perhaps I have never really lived or something). I noticed that whatever point or counterpoint I made was derailed with a softspoken, even tearful, “What I’m hearing from you is, [bunch of strawman things I never said].”

Eventually I checked in with mutual friends who reassured me I wasn’t the jerk here, and I stopped taking the bait. I recalled the guilt trips when I tried to turn down those invitations, and in hindsight, I recognized some amateur-ass recruiting tactics.

Ben’s surprise-intervention BS sounds way too familiar, is my point. So I’ll concur with what others have said here: this is gas-lighty, ‘splain-y, bombastic nonsense. You are not obligated to humour it in the name of friendship or progressivism or respecting your elders (cough). You are a compassionate, thoughtful, skilled communicator, and you’re careful about picking your battles. I think that’s exactly why his ridiculous antics cut so deep.

I have not yet amassed the guts to tell my own Wokely Privileged Ben how problematic such antics are, so I cannot presume to advise you on that. I have been less generous with my emotional labor, though, and I endorse that 100%. You can coddle someone’s fragile ego, or validate their inflated self-perceptions, or absorb their self-righteous tone-policing—all good survival skills when needed! But a real friend wouldn’t demand all three at once and expect you to thank him.

You have my blessing to downshift instead of confronting, if you wish. He deserves to be called out, sure, but that’s emotional labor for you and the ROI isn’t promising. Just know that you’re not the unreasonable one in this situation.
posted by armeowda at 9:46 PM on November 8 [10 favorites]


So, I just want to mention this in case it helps you reframe and regain confidence that your social media persona is not as this person has characterized it: Facebook is a known manipulator of human emotions. I, myself, drastically quelled its presence in my life after I came to a point where I felt like the negativity it was invoking—through the curated promotion of certain people, posts, and comments in my feed—not worth the upsides of engagement.

Despite the embarassment of being exposed, I have no doubt Facebook's experiment results were incorporated into the hot-button-pushing-equals-engagement-expanding feed algorithm-at-large. It is entirely possible that Ben wouldn't see the selfie-lovin' cat-snugglin' you without visiting your wall.

This does not in any way excuse how he chose to act on his interpretation of this (possibly severely) limited data set. +1000 a true friend would just freakin' phone, text, or email with concern or a heads-up that you're coming off harsher than you meant, and leave it at that. A good collaborator would not waste a project meeting nattering on about what you should or should not express in your non-project-related personal outlet.

I like your own phrasing if you have to lay it out to him (not that you do, but your gut is telling you he's vested himself in 'fixing' you, and might force another interaction): You feel like he came to some extremely inappropriate conclusions about your emotional state and supposed anger issues. You felt ambushed with this conversation at what you had understood to be a project meeting. You attempted to explain where you were coming from after being put on the spot, didn't get any indication you were being heard, and wish no further engagement on the subject (or at all) since there is no reciprocity and mutual sharing of understanding. The end. Best to you, OP.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 1:09 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Some catchphrases for future reference:

"Thanks for your concern, but I'm quite all right."

If they persist:

"Stop judging me!"

"Cut out the criticism!"

"Please keep your comments to yourself."

or simply

"Cut it out!"

And then follow jbenben's script.

And I think queenofbithynia has it. This guy is creeptastic and someone you need to avoid.
posted by tel3path at 2:52 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


I agree with everyone who weighed in on Ben being a presumptuous, mansplainy dude with obvious boundaries issues, and especially with Omnomnom's comment about this totally being about Ben's inflamed manfeels and him not being willing to cope with those manfeels on his own like a grownup.

It sounds like Ben is doing that thing that people do when they think they've solved a major problem of theirs through gentle application of self-help principles. Ben had a problem with anger, and he thinks he's solved it, but it sounds like all Ben really learned is how to sublimate his anger by pretending it originates from others. Then he gets to preach to them about how they can rise above their anger, like he has. It's classic projection.
posted by palomar at 7:39 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


Lol, “lovingkindness” does not mean you can’t have negative opinions about abuse and injustice, what a dumb privileged convenient-for-him misinterpretation.

I don’t even like when someone who knows me extremely well puts himself (let’s be real, it’s always a him) in the role of my amateur therapist. So when it’s someone you’re not even close to, you don’t even have to be nice about not putting up with it.

If he starts up again, I’d say something like please, not this again. I’m an adult and I can manage my emotions without an older white man pretending to be my guru. We’re equals and I won’t be able to work with you in this dynamic.

I don’t think you sound crazy or even mad, and I really doubt his wacky ideas and gross boundaries will represent what the rest of your friends think. Don’t question yourself here. You come across very reasonable and self aware and he comes across as condescending and ridiculous at BEST.

Does he have a crush on you or something? I’d be worried about further intrusions.
posted by kapers at 1:05 PM on November 9


I have a friend like this. He tried to pull a similar stunt once, saying that my social media opinions were 'controversial'. I replied with a flat 'so/therefore?' to every argument he proposed (how it makes me appear online, how he's worried about the negative impact on my life, yada yada yada). Since it was on text, I let him ramble on for several paragraphs before I politely thanked him for his opinions, told him my behaviour is not for him to police, changed my privacy settings to exclude him, and went for a walk.
That someone called you over and subjected you to this is even worse, but he doesn't deserve an iota of the headspace he's occupying. Exclude him from your online presence, and change nothing else, except perhaps being more wary of his intentions going forward.
posted by Nieshka at 4:12 AM on November 10 [5 favorites]


If this helps (and I hope it will), I've had an experience a few times this difficult year where various friends who are POC (I'm white) will kind of spontaneously work through their thoughts/feelings in conversation and then immediately apologize for sounding angry. Not once have they sounded remotely angry; just people are so used to having to modulate their tone that they apologized automatically. Like, it was just pure factual explanations of how things are misunderstood or how various news conversations weren't nearly nuanced enough for the factual world. So if anything, another possible uck factor is that you maybe already adjust your tone with such frequency that this particular weird horrible cornering felt like an even more heightened bit of jackassery. (Sorry if I'm super mistargeted on this.)

And anger is perfectly reasonable anyway!
posted by lauranesson at 3:36 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Oh, also you mentioned a cat?
posted by lauranesson at 10:06 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


obligatory cat photo
posted by thereemix at 10:39 AM on November 15 [7 favorites]


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