Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Real Life ::: Blog Life

Something happened during last week's symphony rehearsals. Not anything earth-shattering, but it was certainly eye-opening to me. The conductor, who tends to be 'intense' during rehearsals, wasn't particularly happy with the second violins at one point, and had them repeat a small section over and over. They weren't getting it, and he and they were both getting frustrated. Finally, the principal player snapped at him. Which made him see red, but he held back and didn't retaliate. For those unfamiliar with the rehearsal process, the conductor (any conductor) is a dictator. There is no popular vote, no opinions that should be expressed, no consensus by committee. Any problems/suggestions/opinions can be discussed, but privately, and certainly NOT during a rehearsal. The proverbial dead horse was beaten, so we moved on, and dealt with it later. But it was certainly an uncomfortable moment.

I ran into another woman who played in that section on Monday. She expressed her frustration with that situation, and what can we do about his bullying, and yadda, yadda, yadda... I smiled and nodded. I've been on the receiving end of his persistence as well, so I know what it's like.

But what I wanted to say was that I didn't agree with her frustration. We've known what he's like for 8 years now, and we're all big boys and girls. We should be able to make the adjustments he's asking for, regardless of if we think they're correct or not. Again...going back to the dictatorship. This woman later emailed me, and was sort of prodding me to agree with her. I avoided replying to her. I just didn't want to get in the middle of it.

So what was the eye-opening part? I (and literally every one of us) do the same thing here in blogland.
  • How many obviously bad decisions/choices do we read that we don't say anything about (yet gossip about behind the person's back)?
  • How many extra-marital affairs (real or cyber) are blogged about that we know will end badly in one way or another (yet encourage and give high-fives for)?
  • How many family woes do we read of (yet don't offer constructive help, rather 'help' by relating similar stories)?
  • How hypocritical do we find others in their writings about friends and/or enemies (yet smile and nod at them)?
  • How many times do we shake our heads at someone's writing (yet seek out someone to chat with who shares your own opinions)?
The fact is--we don't want to rock the boat. We don't want to lose someone's friendship. We don't want to verbalize our own opinions, for fear of being chastised or ridiculed for disagreeing. We want everything to be smooth sailing. Peachy. Rosy. And when someone does rock the boat, we see the reaction, and don't want to be on the receiving end of someone else's fury. For the most part, most of us don't have the balls to challenge. To disagree. To speak our mind. We have become a wide community of sheep. Rather than be the one to be the dark cloud, we pull sunshine out of our asses, smile and nod, and then express our sorrow or disappointment when things go south.

I'm guilty of it. You're guilty of it. It happens in real life. It happens here.


Playfully Yours said...

Guilty as charged!!!!


Maggie said...

I appreciate what you're saying. I also think that some of this stems from the fact that not all people are good at giving constructive criticism, especially on the internet where there is no body language and you can't see the immediate reaction of the other person. It seems like the matters you're referring to are delicate at best and if you don't respond delicately, I can see how a bad reaction and resulting chaos could easily occur. I'm not saying people shouldn't speak up, if they are compelled and think they can do it in a way that is helpful then by all means! Though as bloggers don't we all know that people are bound to judge, judge-y souls that we are? Not that it's right to judge people based on the one dimension we see here. But we come to expect that someone, somewhere is reading our blog posts and saying "really? are you effing kidding me?"

Dana said...

I'd like to think I'm less guilty than most, but I'll also admit there is a price for doing that.

I rock the boat. I may not do it in the comments of another blog (I do believe some respect of a person's "home" is necessary) but I'll certainly call them out on my blog.

I piss people off - routinely - but I also treat people the way I want to be treated.

Don't blow sunshine up my ass. Doing so shows (1) You think I'm an idiot and can't figure out what you're doing, and (2) isn't even close to what a true friend should and would do.

I don't have people chomping at the bit to be my cyber friend, BECAUSE they know I'll call them on their shit and expect them to call me on mine.

Unfortunately, people would rather live in some fantasy world where they can justify what they do wrong by having strangers validate their wrongness. Go figure ...

viemoira said...

The only thing I can honestly disagree with is that I have seen some pretty constructive criticism that I respect (also seen some pretty shitty criticism as well).

Perhaps we've become robotic via blogging as well- a thought comes to mind of:
"how are you" someone asks and keeps right on moving before you even answer. Then you realize they don't really care how you are but are just programmed to ask...

I do like your honesty- how you admit it's not just all us but you as well.
I think when I want to react to something I disagree with but do not that it is due to me second guessing myself- does the writer want advice, do they even care, are they just venting in their own space??

Anonymous said...

Oh sweet Os, a sheep I'm not. Trust me, it's made me quite unpopular at times. I will not say something just because someone wants to hear it and if I have the urge to really lay into someone I may just exit and say nothing at all but there most definitely would not be head nods and high fives.

I do, however, try to avoid confrontation because I don't like it and generally won't get anyone anywhere.

Hang onto your oars baby, I'm rocking :-)

Emmy said...

In real life, just like online, I think people forget that feedback usually comes from a place of caring. Kind of a "you are stepping in it, so let me help you understand how to deal with it differently so you wlll be more successful."

I say usually because there are always the asshats who will stand and point and get delight out of that act alone.

I think it is much harder to have that conversation without someone immediately reacting before they finish listening or reading.

And I am so guilty of sitting on the sidelines shaking my head sometimes, but mainly because I'm a cynic and realized many times people don't want advice. That doesn't mean I shouldn't say something....

Barefoot Dreamer said...

Ok true- but there are manners or there should be.

A person's blog is their home. I wouldn't come to your home and shit in the middle of your floor and state I don't like your carpet. I don't come to your house and beat you up about what you say think and feel there. If I don't agree with you, I could or may try to talk to you about it- but in the end I will just leave. that is what I do on blogs.

if I want to learn something from you- in real life or here I will hang around and inquire but if I disagree or get frustrated even I will move on because it is not worth my attention. I am not going to stop someone on the street and say- hey, I heard you talking in the cafe about your affair- I totally disagree with what you are doing.

I guess the reason a lot of people don't confront is because it is just easier to move on. noone is being held across a table until their meal is done, they don't have to see each other at the city council meeting. and noone wants to shit on someone's carpet cuz they don't like the color

basically if I don't agree or am not trying to learn something I move on

Sugarmag said...

Yeah I agree with you and I agree with Barefoot Dreamer, too. I think that part of it is that when I read about a decision on a blog that I don't think is a good one I don't say anything because I don't think they want to hear it. The other thing that I found surprising when I started blogging is just how kind other bloggers are. This surprised me because of the viciousness I often see in comments on more public "newsy" sites.

Anyway I'm up :). HHNT

Moosekahl said...

Blah...you know I rock the boat. I like rocking the boat. Helps get to the bottom of things sometimes. I'll keep rocking, take your Dramamine and enjoy the ride :)

Mia said...

Hmm, I am confused. Do you wish you had told the violinist that she should suck up his criticism? Or are you applauding the first chair for rocking the boat?

And I guess this post is just rocking the boat, too. Only am I doing that to deny your point or do I really rock the boat as part of who I am?

Oy -- it's too late at night for these questions, but I loved the post.

Ms Scarlett said...

I tend to agree, but with two points to consider:

1. Most of us recognize that, even here in tell-all Blogland, we're still only getting part of the story. Sometimes it's hard to comment or give advice when you know there's more to it.

2. It's so easy to misinterpret written word. Either I'll misinterpret someone's attempt at levity as sarcasm, or they'll see my attempt at advice as rude butting in.

I don't mind rocking the boat - do it all the time IRL, but I also agree that it's a delicate line to walk on people's blogs.