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First, I apologize for the length of time between my blog posts.  I have had a lot of things to work through over the past several months, and have not dedicated the amount of time to this that I should.  Until I received notes from concerned readers, it had not even occurred to me that some might worry about the extended absences.  I should have thought of that, especially since so many of my entries lately have addressed the less happy side of life, so please forgive my time away– I will try to do better!  Now, for today’s topic..

Several weeks ago, an acquaintance– make that former acquaintance– on Facebook became enraged at someone else for not being a mind-reading psychic, and then proceeded to launch an unwarranted, profanity-laden attack via Facebook, targeting several people who were not even involved in any way, including me.  It is something we all see regularly on the social networks.  If you are thinking it’s incredibly immature, you are absolutely right!  But, that is not what this is about, because using my blog as a forum to return the attack would be equally ridiculous.

Instead, I am turning this into a teaching and learning moment.  What do you do when someone is directing unjustified hostility toward you?

First, it is totally understandable to be angry yourself, after such an attack.  But, as difficult as it might be, stay calm.  No matter how much the other person might seem to deserve it, resist the urge to send a solid thump on the nose, and be above trading profanities.  If you return the other person’s hostility, you are, in the mind of the attacker, justifying his hostility. As a bonus, the calmer you are, the crazier the other person looks.

Remember, their anger is not your anger, and just because they are saying and doing things they might live to regret, it does not mean you have to say or do things you might later regret.

Be patient.  You do not know what someone else is experiencing.  Perhaps they have a mental illness, or are having some other traumatic life experience which is fueling the anger.  Perhaps they themselves have been victimized in some way, and are unwittingly paying it forward.

While it is my belief that we all have a duty to help each other when we can, there are only so many hours in a day and we’re not all psychotherapists.  Weigh the options and make a decision.  Is the person a high priority in your life, and can he be helped by you?

If it is someone you rarely see, or if your presence only seems to make the person angrier, it may be best to walk away and let someone else help him work through the issue.

If you value the person who is lashing out at you, if it is a close friend or family member (or if you work in customer service or health care!), calmly and gently probe for answers.  Try to find out why the person is so angry, in order to defuse the situation.  Often, once you have him engaged in a conversation and seeking solutions, the person will begin to calm down.  However, this does not always work, so above all…

Protect yourself.  You do not have to allow yourself to be the target of anyone’s irrational, misdirected anger.  You absolutely have the right to choose to walk away from a potentially abusive situation, and there is no reason to tolerate abuse from anyone.  However much you might wish to “fix” the person, realize that it is still his anger, not yours, and only he can fix it.  You are not obligated to carry that burden.  Sometimes, the best way to handle it is to walk away, letting the person rant and tire himself out.

Then, after he falls asleep, resist the urge to stick his hand in a bucket of warm water.  Seriously.  It will only make him madder.


When I started my first blog several years ago, it was mostly a way to post news and updates for clients.  I was surprised to find people actually reading it and even posting responses.  However, when that particular blog site closed, I didn’t start a new blog right away.  After all, I’m a painter, not a writer.  Plus, I was busy with other things– and I might be a hermit.

So when someone suggested using social networking sites to help patrons find my artwork, I thought, ‘Social?!’.  I am typically very private and often go out of my way to be left alone, so the idea of creating more ways for people to find me wasn’t very appealing at first.  There are already so many things in daily life that require sacrificing privacy, and it is rare enough to be alone with one’s own thoughts. It isn’t a dislike of people; it is an appreciation for silence, solitude, and privacy.

Originally, I blamed my aversion to social networking and technology in general on the Mennonite upbringing.  Then I found many Mennonites on Facebook, including a number of Mennonite grannies with hundreds of contacts.  It totally blew that excuse out of the water.

Then a friend persuaded me to try Twitter, mostly to post news and updates for clients and potential clients.  When I registered, the first search I did was for “art”.  The first name to come up and one of the first people I “followed” was Yoko Ono.  I was tickled when later she not only followed me back, but also sent a message.  I think it’s great that she actually does this for most of her followers on Twitter.

But, as many of my followers have probably noticed, I’m not nearly as good at this social networking thing.  Although I usually add followers to one or more of my lists, I don’t always follow back and I’m not sure I’ve ever sent a “direct message” to anyone.  I don’t always read direct messages on Twitter either; they’re usually advertisements. 

However, I do frequently look at the posts of followers, even replying and retweeting sometimes.  I also look at and reply to most tweets addressed to @soulbearing.  It’s a start, at least.

Maybe one day, I will master the art of social networking.  Meanwhile, I’m glad to have understanding followers who find my tweets and blogs meaningful and/or useful enough to overlook this fault.  And, if you’d like to contact me directly or view my artwork, visit

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