Assumption of malevolence   Leave a comment

Oh yes, that was it.

Over the weekend I found out who someone I’d fallen out of touch with was on Twitter, so followed her and sent her a message. she followed me, and replied “Hello! Nice to hear from you”.

I should point out that I’ve absolutely no reason what-so-ever to think that she’s anything other than sincere, and she’s always been a perfectly decent person. If I were a normal human that message would’ve been interpreted as written, everybody would live happily ever after, and I’d not be writing this now.

Unfortunately, I’m not a normal person, so on receiving such a message I automatically assume it’s sarcastic, or that the person writing it is actually forcing politenest whilst thinking “oh gods, not you again. Why are you pestering me now?”. Even though there’s absolutely no evidence to support such a notion (you wouldn’t follow someone if you found them objectionable, right?) it’s what immediately springs to mind. The notion that, actually, somebody *would* be pleased to hear from me just seems so utterly absurd that, no matter the evidence supporting it, no matter that it’s what my brain rationally suggests, I can’t actually believe that it’s true.

Which leads to the uncomfortable situation where you have to reply in a friendly manner, because that’s the response you want to give (and rationally know you should), while feeling that you’re having the piss taken out of you, or imposing even more on an unwiling victim.

Sadly it’s not just in faceless communications that I have problems like this. If somebody in the street acts agressively it’s unpleasant, but you know what’s going on and how to deal with it. Nothing unexpected is happening. I’m big enough, ugly enough and bloody-minded enough that it’s not likely to be a problem (beyond getting me worked up for a few days).
But if somebody acts with unprovoked friendliness, it’s terrifying. You’re instantly thrown into confusion: What are they trying to do? What do they want? Why me? Am I in a position to defend myself? Are they trying to distract me from something or somebody else?
They could even just be being friendly, but what’re the chances of that happening? Even if they are, how on earth should you go about dealing with that?

Of course, the chances of that are pretty good, and you have to remember that counter-examples are relatively few and far between. A problem with avoiding human interaction (I’ve been getting better at not doing this) is that the counter-examples are more likely to come looking for you than normal people.

But it doesn’t feel like it, which is why you avoid human interaction in the first place.


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