Whose side are you on?

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May 27, 2011 by Rhi

I lost a couple of followers on twitter today. Not that I usually pay much attention – I usually have a number of spam peeps following me at any given time who usually disappear after a few days when I don’t follow them back. I’m not a glory hunter – my worth is based on more than how many hits my blog gets!

But today, on a cursory mosey through my followers (to check I was following everyone I should be, mostly!) I noticed that someone I’d known online for a while no longer shows up there. Which when put together with a rather terse reply I received from them when I tweeted them for advice recently, makes me think “Oh.” Given they’re friendly with someone involved in the bit of unpleasantness at the turn of the year, I’m drawn my own conclusions. Those conclusions may be wrong, but in the absence of any other evidence, it’s the only thing I can think of. That or the stultifying boredom my tweets induce became too much. Hey ho, chalk it up to experience.

It did get me thinking, though, about that peculiarly female trait of taking sides. My years in school, university and work have all been blighted by trying to explain to warring factions amongst my friends that, no I’m not taking sides when people have a falling out. Talking to one person doesn’t mean that I don’t like the other who had a falling out with them last week. I don’t like taking sides, because I don’t like getting involved in things that don’t concern me, and that especially includes falling out between friends. I have absolutely no time for those people who get a kick out of carrying tales back to one side of a disagreement, because all it does is stoke the fire and blow an argument up out of all proportion.

The worst thing is when someone stops talking to you for no apparent reason. In the case of a vague online acquaintance, it’s not something I lose sleep over. But when it’s someone you know in real life, it’s hard not to respond to a protracted hate campaign without yelling “I’M NOT A FUCKING MIND READER!” I had an occasional drinking buddy at uni who I apparently annoyed through some trivial matter. The first I knew about it was when I had a phone call, at midnight, from her overly aggressive boyfriend, who proceeded to call me repeatedly and left umpteen abusive messages, over some perceived slight to her I had posted on my facebook account. As I had no idea she was even annoyed at me, there was no reason for me to slight her (I hadn’t even mentioned her name, a typo had apparently convinced her I was “having a dig”), but suddenly all hell had broken loose, and I was left open mouthed because, of course, if she’d only mentioned her annoyance at the time, I would have perhaps have been able to sort it out. Instead, her reaction led me to hit the block button and we haven’t spoke since. I wouldn’t say I’ve fallen out with her. I just… well… don’t care.

If someone does something I don’t like, I tell them. But it’s usually someone who has directly offended me. And for that reason, there’s very few people on this planet that I don’t like. I’ve never understood the mentality of someone who will jump on a bandwagon based on the hearsay of someone else. There are always two sides to every story, and I’ve been raised to take people as I find them. If someone has always been nice to me, I tend to assume that there has been some personality clash between them, and try not to get involved. I’ve seen too often the horrible aftermath of one popular person in a group of girls (and girls and women are the worst for this – their ability to inflict psychological damage on other women never ceases to amaze and disgust me) systematically turning the rest against one individual. I’ve dealt with the anguish it can cause that one person who, often through a bad reaction to an event, finds themselves bullied, harassed and excluded to the point of despair. I expect it of teenage girls, but when I see grown women doing it, it’s infuriating.

Of course, the loss of this follower on twitter is miniscule compared to the situations I’ve dealt with in the past (and probably completely different in terms of reasons why). And of course, following my own advice, being as they haven’t been directly nasty or anything other than nice towards me, I’m not about to start mud slinging. But again, one minor incident leads me towards deeper thinking about experiences I’ve had, and finding myself wondering how the female mind works sometimes. Is it me? I think it must be… I’m just a freak. But a happy freak, nonetheless.


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