notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Losing My Temper

I don’t handle criticism well.

I can pretend to shrug it off, but truthfully, it’s hard. It’s hard to have someone say you’re wrong. It’s harder for someone to say you’re dumb. And it is downright scary for someone to say vicious, even threatening, things about you.

Two years ago, I tweeted often about my political stance, which is decidedly liberal – and always has been. (But bear with me, if you are more conservative: this really isn’t a liberal or political post). I often engaged with other political tweeters, commenting frequently with like-minded posts and sometimes, not often, arguing with the other side.

And then – inevitably, I suppose – I was attacked. I got sucked into a conversation that I should have avoided, since it is highly partisan and emotional, and it escalated. I should probably say that I sucked myself into that conversation, since no one forced me to add my two cents.

But regardless, we went back and forth with heated arguments that of course would never convince the other side – our relative positions were cast in concrete. And then, a third party jumped in and threatened me. I’m not exaggerating – an outside voice came in and threatened my life. And said she would laugh when I was killed.

Looking back on this incident, I am not even sure it was a human being.  Bots were and probably still are rampant, but this attack was really vicious.

I totally freaked out. I believe in my cause and I’ve attended a rally or two. I even marched against two wars.

But I have never felt threatened.  I have never been threatened. I always felt safe to express my opinion. And felt that others could do the same, by the way.

But I found out that I am not brave. I am astounded at the political figures on both sides who shrug off attacks. I wanted to change my name and go into hiding.

And in a way, I did.

First, though, I reported the threat to Twitter, who responded that the threat was somehow mysteriously “within their guidelines.” (Update: I believe they have improved upon this ridiculously low standard. I recently reported someone who I thought was threatening someone else, and they agreed and suspended the offender.)

Then I went through all my posts back to the beginning and deleted EVERY tweet that was even slightly political.

And I changed my Twitter handle from my own name, which I was using since I wanted to promote my books, to Not Quite Old, just like here on this blog.  Of course, I am still promoting my books both here and on Twitter, so it’s easy enough to find out my name, but that one tiny extra layer of security is reassuring.

And I started to post only nice or funny tweets. Sweet and kind, like I try to do here.

And I no longer rise to the temptation of commenting on political or issue-related posts. There are enough comments. They don’t need me.

And lately, as you know if you are a regular reader here, I’ve taken to writing sweet little snippets of advice, from my dog Theo.

I like it. It works. I feel good.

And the best promotion for my tweets, and my blog, and my books is to also comment as Theo on one of Twitter’s most popular sites, Thoughts of Dog. When I comment there, I tend to use the same strange grammar, punctuation, and invented words that the author of Thoughts of Dog uses.  He gets tons of traffic, and many people like my silly quips, and come over to my Twitter site. And from there, sometimes to my blog and even my books. But if they don’t, there is no harm done. I’m having fun and so is the audience.

But here’s where we loop around to criticism again.

Recently, I wrote a cute, dumb comment on Thoughts of Dog, and some guy retweeted it, commenting “imagine writing something this inane and thinking it is good.”

It hit a nerve.

And I immediately rattled off, “I have 3.500 followers. Have you reached 200 yet?”

I mean, really?

I’m not exactly screaming obscenities, and yet, it shows that I haven’t learned a whole lot.

I’m an ass. (and by the way, 3,500 followers is not exactly a big deal either.)

I can let criticism get under my skin. For no reason. Truly, the guy has under 200 followers. He wasn’t exactly dissing me to a mass audience. And even if he was – why did I have to take the bait?

Within fifteen minutes, I was sorry. (Probably 15 seconds, but I needed to get my blood pressure down first.)

I could have just deleted my tweet. But what does that say about me? That I can write something nasty and then just pretend that I didn’t?

So instead, I posted again. I said, “I’m sorry for my snide comment. It was mean and I am not a mean person. And so I apologize.”

The guy did not respond. But I felt better.

The next day I posted Theo’s Tip of the Day:

tip mean

I know why I reacted. Especially now, after a few days have passed. The guy hit a nerve because I KNOW what I wrote was dumb and silly. I want to be respected as a serious writer and I am writing things like “i have to proteck the house from turkeys an hellocoppers.”

But I also know – now that a few days have passed – that being sweet and silly doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

These are stressful times. The news has us angry and fragile. That’s true from both sides of the aisle.

Sure, I am a serious writer. Sometimes.

But I know that if I can make someone smile once in a while, how bad could that be?

I’m not sorry about that.

73 Comments

  1. Doris Legere Kennedy

    You DO NOT have a mean bone in your body. Listen to that sweet little pup Theo.he knows what he’s talking about cause he has a pretty smart mom

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Doris. We had good examples of kindness every day when we were growing up. I just remarked to a friend that my father is still with me every time I do the right thing.

      Like

  2. No, we are never sorry when we cause someone t smile… as long as it’s not a smirk! One thing I have learned about the internet – and relationships in general – once it’s out of our mouth or onto the internet, we can’t really ever take it back! So if it’s not kind – if it’s not something I’d be happy to say to Jesus – forget it! Yup, a good lesson learned – remember that you’re not mean! Cheers! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. I usually give myself a moment to get over that flash of anger. And sometimes I fail, but I try to do better the next time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have also learned to scroll on by when I see something I don’t agree with and I don’t post anything that may agitate someone else. It’s like driving. I don’t give the finger as much as I used to. You never know who’s packing heat. People are incredibly sensitive and violent. I hope the atmosphere changes back some day.

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    • I once gave the finger to a guy who was tailgating me and he pulled ahead of me and stopped the car. I was terrified. I never did it again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • They don’t understand that we are trying to educate them in courtesy! Glad he didn’t have a gun.

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      • I’m always telling my (non-driver) hubby NOT to shout or gesture at other drivers when I’m driving, because these things can escalate so quickly. I prefer to quietly mutter rude names and get on with my life in safety.

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  4. I get you, I left my longtime facebook presence because of nasty comments. I guess my choice to be vegan irritated some people, although I never judged them for their choices. If a simple comment can cause people to threaten you, then social media is a scary place. I watched a documentary about what comes “within facebook guidelines” and realized that it didn’t suit my sensitivity, so I turned them off. No regrets about that at all. I think Theo is a wise dog and I love his comments via his favourite human. If others don’t, let them “turn it off.” No need for nastiness.

    Like

    • I need to work harder to “let it go” – Thanks.

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  5. I have been shying away from social media because of things like this. There are all kinds of bullies, cowards, and nasty people hiding behind the internet. I don’t need or want them in my life. It’s just not worth it. You are a decent human being, but it is easy to get sucked in to that world. Just be careful and don’t let the idiots get you down.

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    • Exactly. I don’t need to respond. And I need to accept that I may not be universally loved – even though I obviously should be. 😉

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  6. Our daughter has been attacked online for her stand on things. She’s slowly learning that she doesn’t have to convince an anonymous web presence that she’s right. She says my blog is “pretty non controversial”, and I’m glad for that, even though she says it a little sarcastically. I only want to record some smile worthy moments in this messed up world.
    P.S. I love Theo, and his tips that you post.

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    • Yes! Your daughter is on the right track. Just today I saw something from a friend that got me a little riled… and I scrolled right past. It didn’t kill me. I just went on by.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Looks like you’re succeeding at keeping your temper under control!

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  7. Kimberly Barker

    The world is an ugly place right now. We love Them as you voice him. Do not change! You are doing a wonderful thing!

    Like

    • Thanks. I love my Theo and I love the kindness that he inspires in me.

      Like

  8. Julie B

    I started a Twitter account to follow politicians who, I believe, are trying hard to do the right things. I realized that there was a lot of negativity and I’m doing my best to be a positive person right now. I would have given up Twitter, but a friend showed me Dog Rates & from there I found Thoughts of Dog, I Pet that Dog! and you, Not Quite Old. Until this week, I had never seen a mean comment on these feeds. Then, someone pointed meanness in my direction. I responded once, kindly, and got more meanness thrown back from the first guy & a friend of his. I pondered some nasty responses, then realized I didn’t need the last word and moved on. Within a minute, I saw the attack on you. I was madder than I had been when I was attacked. I typed up a snarky response and submitted it. Then I saw your apology & immediately wished that I had taken the high road.
    Because, I am not a mean person, either. I only get mean when I’m feeling insecure or when my friends are being hurt. Thank you for helping get me back on the high road with positivity.
    I’m glad I found your posts, Nancy, aka Theo’s mom. They always make me smile. Thank you.

    Like

    • Thanks, JulieB. I always look forward to your comments because they are so consistently sweet. This has been a good reminder to us both that we need to stay that way.

      Like

  9. Twitter is a loaded medium. I once got the name of a region wrong and was inundated by hateful remarks. It was an easy enough mistake to make and the hate was uncalled for. I corrected my post and apologized to which I received no comments. Odd

    Like

    • It’s almost like no one wants you to apologize for making a mistake. Saying “I was wrong” is one of the strongest, bravest things you can do.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I guess it is just easier to be nasty to strangers on the internet, you don’t see their faces when you say hurtful things or know that a particular comment can hit a nerve because you don’t really know the person you are commenting about. Good for you for trying to stay nice and not get sucked into a tweeting war.
    Politics especially is so tricky, even people you think you know can have very different opinions to you and sometimes it’s better not to stretch the friendship too much if it means something to you.

    Like

    • Years ago, I noticed that the advent of email brought with it a growing lack of politeness. It’s true that people will be nastier if they don’t see your face. Maybe the solution is to show them your face (figuratively) by showing your humanity and vulnerability.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Kim

    Hi Nancy xx
    Your post touched me so. I understand exactly where you are coming from. So much ugliness going on in the news right now. It seems there is so much injustice everywhere.
    I follow you on Twitter as Lilybelle the white curly pup poodle and Theo’s puptips of the day are the most tenderest of posts. Even though you are Theo’s voice I suspect that Theo’s thoughts perhaps reflect the tender person that you are.

    Lilybelle looks forward to reading them every day and writing her response to Theo.
    Please don’t change xx
    Big hug xxx
    Kim (Lilybelle’s Granny) 💕🐩💕

    Like

    • I think Lilybelle is about the prettiest baby on the planet!

      Like

  12. Dara Cormack

    When that happened, I was madder than if it was directed at me. I have your books, read your blog and who doesn’t love you as Theo’s voice? You make people smile, laugh, and I’ve seen the times when you say things that someone needs right at that moment. That is priceless. You weren’t being an ass. Just shutting down someone who WAS being an ass.And in turn showed your heart with your pup tip.All I can say is that makes you a wonderful person. Just keep being you. Because, we need more of you. (No pressure) 😘

    Like

    • Thanks Dara. I don’t intend to stop any time soon, and I am learning to just ignore those who don’t like me.

      Like

  13. Jacq

    I’m finding social media less and less palatable. I do not like the general tone and anger that seems to be so prevalent. I look forward to your kind, inspiring posts. Sending hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I decided a few years ago to concentrate on kindness and it has helped me immeasurably.

      Like

  14. I try to avoid politics, religion and sex in my posts. I’ve said some daft things, but the way it was interpreted was not the way I intended. We are all different.
    I like your blog, I like your humour, and I love Theo. I’m only a blogger, so not on any social media, nor do I want to be. Just be You Nancy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I remember an unpleasant boss years ago who told me I should be more like her. And I said, “It has taken me sixty years to like myself the way I am!”

      Like

      • Good for you! If we were all the same, life would be so dull!!

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  15. Things have turned mean. It’s shocking. I’ve found that even people I have known for decades have somehow decided it is alright to be mean and threatening. Somehow they think if they spew vile horrible things on the internet that the internet offers them some kind of invisible cloak of denial. When you see them in person they act like nothing has happened while you are cringing in real life. I’ve had to unfriend, unfollow and block people. In person I have been avoiding them. The thing is I don’t engage. I just say “we will have to agree to disagree” and that is not enough for them. They continue spewing.
    I don’t think what you said was mean. It was a self defence mechanism. Writing is your thing, you automatically defended it.

    Like

    • Thanks. You are absolutely correct about people feeling it is now acceptable to be mean. And although the jerk hit a sore spot with me and so I rose to defend it, I needed to ask myself why I needed to defend myself against a jerk. And the answer is – I don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Jackie

    I love your tweets on thoughts of dog. From there I followed you on twitter. From there I discovered you are a writer and your blog. I also am liberal minded and used to become easily enraged. I have learned to resist the temptation to engage (most of the time). These are hard days. That is why Theo ‘s tweets are so important. It is a slice of happiness. Btw I saw that comment and laughed. Interesting I live on the shoreline of ct but was commuting to a job an hour away to a small town in northwest ct where I got to know a lot of French Canadians. Stay strong.

    Like

    • Thanks Jackie! Yes we Connecticut natives with French Canadian ancestry are many and strong! And polite!

      Like

  17. Susan Ritchie

    I’ve found (seen) that people who would never, ever think of saying out loud “mean” have no problem doing it where they never run the chance of someone finding out who they really are. Their hide behand a “screen name”, so they don’t have to explain why to that face in the mirror. You apologized because it was the right thing to do, you were raised that way (I know, because I was there, and raised the same way). The apology is not changing the way you see and believe things, it shows that you have the better soul, and there is nothing wrong with that. Never change – I know your Dad would have been proud of you (and a lot of other people we both knew also!)

    Like

    • Thanks Sue. I just said to a friend this morning that I know my Dad is still with me when I do the right thing.

      Like

  18. Doris Legere Kennedy

    I am reading a very good book about a fictional President. Two excerpts that touched me through these times. ” Derisiveness and division was not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they said ” Remember what “We the People” can be & do together”. That’s the Permanent Mission our Founding Fathers left us….moving toward the more perfect union” The same book quoted “Peaceful protest is one of the most admirable forms of patriotism”

    Like

    • Thanks Doris… those are valuable ideas to hold onto.

      Like

  19. Jennie

    The interesting thing about humans (and dogs) is that we’re multi-faceted. You can be a writer of serious thought-provoking things. You can be a writer of silly, smile-inducing things. We can feel joy and sadness and compassion and defensive. Energized and tired. All of these in a day. I’ll bet Theo’s like my dogs…he does and feels all kinds of things in a single day. And they don’t obsess over it. So you just keep rockin’ on like Theo. If you make a mistake like saying something you wished you hadn’t, then just like my dogs ravaging that throw pillow from the chair, once you realize it, be sorry, and then move on to the next joyful thing. (Like ohmygod we’re going in the CAR!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG… WALKIES!!!!

      Like

    • The very best thing I have learned from my dog is forgiveness. And not because I forgive him but because of how easily and completely he forgives me.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. 😦 ❤ It seems there's never an age (OR an administration!) in which we're safe from bullies/meanies (especially online), but as you and Theo note, how or if we react is on us. A nice person's bad reaction to the pain of heart which another/others caused, is always a crappy lesson. (Been there.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree…. I wish it were a lesson we never had to learn. But crappy things don’t last.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but you’re absolutely right!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Linda

    I LOVE THEO! I love Theo’s Thoughts of Dog, well, thoughts. I’m sorry about the negativity & threats. Look forward to more from fren Theo (you).

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I became involved with a charity who helped people who fell on hard times or ill health and were unable to care for their pets properly. Basically the charity helped people to keep their pets, visiting regularly, providing veterinary care and food for their pets and helping the people too with clothing, help to clean, help with food, helping them to grow things in their gardens. This charity, although it had many supporters, unfortunately had a group of aggressive people who actively stalked and threatened all charity volunteers. One person found where I worked from my Facebook page and called my workplace telling all sorts of lies. It was insane and so bad we closed the charity down. The police weren’t interested at all and to take legal action independently would have cost a fortune with no guarantee of success.

    Liked by 1 person

    • but WHY?

      Like

      • I dread to think? Some people have messed up minds and can’t seem to be happy unless they are mean to others!

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  23. I, myself, am a writer. Usually about music, but in the past 2 years, I have been much more active politically on Twitter and Youtube. I, too, consider myself a liberal. I have had days and weeks where I am upset because of what people say online, how they attack others or me, and criticisms like those you mentioned.

    I also do a little bit of music as I one day want to DJ. I’ve done a little so far and made a few mixes, but now, I really wouldn’t consider myself a DJ. Just someone interested in music, particularly EDM.

    Lord knows the countless amount of Instagram posts, Tweets, Facebook posts, Soundcloud mixes, blog posts and more I have deleted because “I feared someone might criticize me.” Or “I feared something I posted wasn’t perfect or as good as what other people might do.”

    I have been trying to “delete things” less. I notice, when I follow people on social media, listen to other DJs mixes, read blogs, etc., occasionally I might personally have a criticism of a person or a post, but what I remember far more frequently, are the good things or the positives or even creative and unique ways others express themselves. Why shouldn’t others remember and focus on the same for me (and you)?

    It’s OK to be imperfect. It’s OK to not have perfect work or perfect things all the time. This is what makes us human. People like relatable humans, and people like it more when you’re not afraid to express yourself. Even more importantly, your creative work should never be “based” off what you think other’s reactions will be. Keep doing you and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it!

    Like

    • Great perspective and well stated. Thanks.

      Like

    • That’s empowering. 🙂 Do you have a blog? And what’s EDM? How do you deal it when everyone seems to go against what you are? How do you stay you and human and loving when everyone hates you or when you don’ t love back the rare people who love you ?

      Like

      • Yes, illuminousmusic.com And luminousnewsblog.wordpress.com ; EDM is Electronic Dance Music. It doesn’t usually seem like Everyone goes against me, I kind wrote that when I was in…a mood lol. I tell myself that other people shouldn’t be the only reason I do things. It’s always important to express how you feel, even if it seems like no one else understands. There will always be one person out there who likes something about you or what you do.

        Liked by 1 person

        • yes, perseverance. Especially when it takes 22 years or more for that person to come

          Like

        • thank you ! 🙂

          Like

  24. dragon

    Sigh. For some reason, there are people out there who do not get that dogs have the vocabulary of a three year old … there is research which supports this. So, expecting perfect prose from the dog who is busy protecting hits family family is just silly. Expecting perfect prose from the human of said dog when translating from dog to human is also pretty silly. And I so hear you on the sudden desire to educate people who refuse to be educated. (I called someone a real troll the other day ’cause he was bein’ a contrarian and a jerk. He gave my comment a thumbs up … Definitely contrary.) Lovely post and cute dog.

    Like

  25. Kara Melek
  26. Creating a language and voice for a character who’s not you IS serious writing. People who write apparently simple but wonderful children’s books are real writers. Theo’s words are precisely chosen and exactly right for him. Anyone who can’t see that is just a bad reader.

    Like

  27. The best pragmatic way to overcome temper is by observing spiritual therapies like meditation and deep breathing in a secluded location.

    Like

  28. Being told you’re wrong is never easy. Especially not when it’s in a purposefully mean or hurtful way, but learning to look past what those people say and learning from past mistakes is crucial in growing as a better person.

    Like

    • well it depends who, how , what and when these things have been told to you I suppose.

      Like

  29. Its better to have self control , even though it is difficult in some extent

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Interesting. I wish I would be strong and sincere enough to accept what I really am, not what people always told me. By the way, I was wondering: HOW do you actually know how to differenciate between a pervert who wants you to feel bad about something you didn’t actually did because you think it’s not you, and juste someone who’s very bad at expressing his or her feelings and misunderstands yours? I find it hard to differentiate and because of that, tend to balance between unnecessary harshness and a miserable feeling of guilt.

    Like

  31. * didn’t do / just. Yes, I am an orthographic maniac.

    Like

  32. Who else here is blogger on WordPress?!

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Nicely done, Nancy. The temptation to lash out online is always powerful for me, also, but am I really going to change anything by hitting ? Nope. After 36 years of depression and surviving, I’m finally learning to let stuff go and focus on what I CAN control.
    Hoping I can learn from you, just I hope I can offer some help to other depression sufferers who get caught up in the argument “vortex” as easily I did.
    http://www.depression-survivor.com

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Patricia Mitchell Lapidus

    Thank you, Nancy. I’m a serious writer, too, yet I love to write funny, silly stuff. So have a few other authors much better known than I am. My tolerance for criticism has gone up some but negative comments and attacks can get to me, so I know where you are coming from. And I rarely post or respond to controversial stuff anymore.

    Like

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