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May 28, 2021

Call it “Toxic Positivity” (or whatever you want)—I will Not Normalize Verbal Abuse.

I’m kind of over being human. 

It seems like quite literally every facet of my life—personal, professional, day, night, even at the grocery store—I am met with opposition. If I say it’s cold, someone is telling me it’s hot. 

We’ve all had someone call, needing our help because they don’t understand something, only to contradict us because, according to them, we’re “wrong.” (Even though they sought us out for assistance.) 

If we post an opinion on Facebooksheesh. People are ready to pop on and presume to tell us our words are untrue because of how they interpreted them—what they mean to them. 

Hell, look at my article on narcissism. So many people are convinced that my experience, as experienced, isn’t “real” or “correct.” If it doesn’t align with their experience on the subject, it is dismissed.

I imagine this alone wouldn’t be such a challenge for people if the opposition met didn’t come in the form of something like:

“You’re nuts! It’s like 68 degrees in here, and I’m sweating. You are so wrong; it’s hot! Probably 65 degrees.”

“No, you’re an Idiot. Because of X, Y, Z.”

The “issue” with the first type of comment is that it’s quite apparent the response is based on an opinion.

Real facts: someone from the West Coast, specifically Las Vegas (me), who is used to an average temperature in the triple digits, might find a climate of 65 degrees cold.

If someone made a comment like this, it would quite literally highlight the person’s inability to empathize outside of their own experience.

Here are the concerns with the second: name-calling, and again, a lack of empathy. Remember: “facts” are circumstantial and thus interchangeable. 

The fake examples above show a lack of ability to step outside of a particular mindset—to remember that there is more than one side to a story.

Can I confess something? I haven’t always been this sensitive to the language I was utilizing. I would tell people to “shut up” in excitement when what I really meant was “oh, my gosh!” or “no way!” I would dismiss the very real truth that my spoken words translated to me commanding the other person to stop speaking because “they knew what I meant.” 

That doesn’t take away from the fact that it was so disrespectful. 

I have been passive-aggressive without even meaning to be. If someone was late for dinner, they were met with a greeting of, “Nice of you to join us.” When what I meant was, “I’m really glad you’re here, but because you’re late, I’m feeling a little disrespected or unimportant because you don’t seem to value my time.”

I am not here to be the semantics police. In fact, nowadays, I’m pretty understanding of a lot and have gotten a few raised eyebrows when defending a pro-peace stance to behaviors not normalized and tolerated by society. 

I just want us to consider how we’re going about doing what we’re doing. 

To quote the Tao of Batman: 

“When you murder a murderer, the number of murderers doesn’t go down.” 

If we were to quote me: 

“When we act lack like animals to call another on their animalistic behavior, our humanity is not somehow retained.”

Too many times in years passed, it was far too easy for me to respond to moments of anger and opposition with intolerance and aggression. I didn’t realize that I was only contributing to the continuation of anger, aggression, and opposition. (Or maybe I did, but I didn’t have the strength to admit it myself.)

I see it today, though, and that doesn’t mean that I will not seize every opportunity to help others come to understand it in their own way.

In writing this, I guess I’m not so sick of being human after all. As I’ve just come to observe, it is only in our humanity that we’re able to hold the capacity to grow. After all, if I hadn’t been pissed off in the first place, I wouldn’t have been inspired to write this or had this moment of realization.

So, call it toxic positivity, call it naïvety, call it whatever you want. I will not normalize acting unkind when faced with unkindness. 

What about you?

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