Dealing With Intentional Misunderstandings-What We Learn From Steve Martin’s Tweet About Carrie Fisher

My mind is blown. I don’t know why… I should be old enough to know that jerks and trolls abound, but still …. It’s mindboggling to see a bunch of fascist keyboard jockeys round on someone like Steve Martin for his tribute to Carrie Fisher on Twitter. It’s definitely a lesson in dealing with those who create intentional misunderstandings to fit their own agenda.

This world seems to be full of hypercritical people (aka trolls) spoiling for a fight, even to the point of victimizing a man mourning the loss of a friend. Anything to get a platform for their message or start drama.
How can you be authentic when there are so many critical people out there ready to jump on everything you say?How do you have the courage to be your authentic self when you’re worried that someone will twist your words to support their own agenda?

Here’s the tweet in question:

Beautiful, right?

Steve Martin deleted it.
And that makes me really sad.
We’re talking about someone that knew Carrie personally and was grieving her loss …
Then the internet PC jockeys rode in on their hobby horses and turned it into a feminist ‘thing’.
Political correctness is a good thing when it makes us conscious of being respectful of others, but the sad fact is that there are people that have taken PC to this whole new level. It’s becoming a knee jerk response of people looking for reasons to get offended, even if they have to ignore the intent behind loving words. It’s become bullying.

The irony in this for me is that his words were a testament to her wit and intelligence. This is a man looking back forty years, reflecting on his reaction as a young man to a beautiful woman. A beautiful young woman who was bright enough to cause a testosterone-fueled young man to notice her intelligence? Wow. Now that’s real feminism.

Denying a woman’s right to be recognized as beautiful and feminine as well as intelligent is sexism, not feminism.

And yet, his real grief and real friendship were edited because of the reaction of strangers. If someone as courageous, outrageous, intelligent and outspoken as Steve Martin is silenced in his grief, what hope is there for truth and authenticity from the rest of us?

What if Someone Really Does Say Something Wrong While Upset?

Every one of us have times when we’re too quick with cutting criticism and too slow at fellow feeling or kindness. Criticism and snarkiness is quick and easy. Kindness is harder. It requires thought and self-control, rather than sniping from behind a keyboard at a wounded target.
But what if someone really does say something that is wrong when they’re under stress? Sometimes people in pain say things they wouldn’t under other circumstances.

  • Don’t be quick to judge their intent as harmful.
  • Don’t let yourself get so wrapped up in words that you forget their emotional state.
  • Give them the time they need to deal with their grief.  People will say things in a way or at a time that you don’t understand.

The easy thing to do is get mad. Most of us sometimes get cranky with someone who doesn’t deserve it. But do you want to be the person who does the easy thing, or the person who does the right thing? A lot of relationships get mangled during times of stress because one or the other won’t let go of something that was said in the heat of the moment.

That said, is it ok to make a habit of saying whatever you want and expecting people to just take it?

No. There’s a difference between making a mistake and having a habit of being destructive. No one should have to put up with that.

People will sometimes misunderstand what you say. Sometimes intentionally, because they’re addicted to drama. Try not to take it to heart, but definitely consider whether you can keep them as a close friend. You don’t have to be perfect, and people who expect perfection may not have your best interests at heart..

But was Steve Martin deleting his tweet all bad?

No. The people who were raising controversy weren’t interested in his feelings or in facts, they were only interested in their own agenda.
Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ said not to give what is holy to dogs, or cast pearls before swine. Why? Because they wouldn’t understand what they were being offered. They would just trample it down, then turn and rip the giver open. Pigs and dogs want food, not precious gems. They get angry when offered something they don’t understand or want. Some people are the same way. If something is hard for them to understand or outside their experience they attack .

Don’t let it break your heart if someone wants to create controversy. Their insistence on believing the worst doesn’t change the truth and intent of your words or actions. Critical people are usually the loudest, but that doesn’t make them right or worth your time. There’s plenty of other people  that understand, and they’re the ones that matter.

Sometimes stepping back, knowing that the people that matter understand and know how we feel is more of a victory than continuing to waste time with trolls that aren’t worth arguing with.

So  please don’t feed the trolls, even if they’re from the NYTimes.

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