Of Bark and Byte

Passive-aggressiveness has become the new way of being. Many people are no longer in-your-face confrontational in the world of work and social life. These days, there are some who are content to hide behind the apparent simplicity of a text message or email. We’ve lost our bite and replaced it with bytes.

Today, I dealt with at least two dozen emails but three stand out. One was not directed to me(in fact it was a third party reading). While it was scathing, blatantly so, it reminded me of the violent power of words, how we can misinterpret and misrepresent, how we can retaliate and reduce others to tears. In face-to-face conversation, we can have the same effects but email feels colder and therefore more cruel.

The second email was directed to a group to which I belong but it was third party hyperbole and hearsay. This third party who was not present at the last group gathering took one person’s reaction and deemed it “drama.” This email led to more questions and genuine tension. Had the person with the reaction picked up the phone and confronted the offending party, the entire group could have avoided being drawn into a personal problem. Again, this illustrates our inability to take courage and face those who make us uncomfortable. It is easier to complain to another. It is easier to play the rescuer, even if we are ignorant of context.

The last email was directed to me as this month’s facilitator of the aforementioned group. I answered a question about our demographics truthfully. In return, my group was judged and dismissed, deemed exclusionary by a stranger who has never ventured to any of our activities. As with the other cases, this person was brave enough to criticize but made little to no effort to understand.

As someone who has always depended on words to get me in and out of situations, I need to be mindful of my own cowardice. Words only have worth if we live them in our actions. I, for one, need to leave the comfort of the computer keyboard and venture out into real life.

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