Sometimes the world is not big enough.

No picture today – this is an unusual post.

One day very recently I opened one of my social media pages to find a reply from someone I used to know in the UK; someone I last spoke to almost two years ago, and whom I had recently contacted to pick their brains about some details (names and places) of amusing events which took place approximately  eleven years ago and which I intend to write about. I was looking forward to their reply and eagerly opened the message.

What greeted me was a vicious, bitter response to my question which – evidently – had failed miserably to convey my actual meaning. I was shocked – extremely so, as I had never known this person to behave this way. They also happened to be online when I replied to the nastiness, asking what was going on. What followed was the most unpleasant, insulting interaction I have had with anybody for many years. In the course of the conversation which followed, I was not allowed to try to explain my original intentions as this person launched into attack after attack upon my character – in fact almost everything about me. Anything I had to say to correct the misunderstanding was dismissed and followed with more insults.

That individual will very likely never read this post but that isn’t important – the issue here is the perceived lack of consequence for unacceptable behaviour. As somebody in a position of significant  responsibility in their profession, this individual chose to deliberately and methodically ignore my attempts to rectify the misunderstanding which had apparently led to the stream of invective coming my way. Their response was to viciously insult me continuously, cynically twist the circumstances of our previously friendly relationship, and continuously attack me. This went on for perhaps half an hour while I tried to keep my head above water emotionally. In the end this person sent one final dismissive message and signed off, blocking me from responding.

I sat there mentally gasping, stunned at what had just happened. From my perspective I’d just been emotionally beaten up – and by someone whom, until that moment, I had considered a friend, and a gentle, reasonable human being. That made it worse. During the course of the ‘conversation’, historical posts that we had exchanged two years ago were pasted in by this other person with derisive comments attached; totally contrary to the response they had elicited at the time of the original conversation. It felt like who I was and who I had ever been, were both  under attack. The day had begun very strangely.

An hour later, my wife opened her own social media page to find messages from this person – whom she has never met – making unveiled accusations against me of a very personal nature. This individual, clearly not content with attacking me directly, had, subsequent to signing off from the conversation, seen fit to contact my wife in an obvious attempt to sabotage our relationship by seeking to create mistrust and doubt in my wife’s mind! I found that barely believable and very disturbing – such behaviour crosses a big, thick and obvious line.  I’m now left wondering to what lengths this person will go – I have grave doubts about their sanity and their integrity. This is all the more alarming since the whole thing was a total surprise, and the individual, as I mentioned, used to be someone I regarded as a friend – not close, but friendly on a day-to-day basis in a work environment. Now my regard for this individual is completely the opposite – that’s a shame, but there is no going back.

Since this happened, I’ve reviewed the message I sent  – and which apparently spurred this manic, aggressive and deeply disturbing response – and so has my wife. Neither of us can find anything overtly problematic with what I asked or the way that I asked it. Both of us believe that I was very clear and said nothing contentious. Nevertheless a totally different meaning has been assumed by this now enraged, aggressive individual. It seems that I was on the end of a frankly irrational response – and that’s scary because I have no idea how motivated this person may be to do something else – after all, if they have the gall to email my partner in an attempt to spoil our relationship with lies, where will this stop? It’s very worrying as well as being extremely hurtful.

I have two options; hope this dies a natural death (as it arose from nothing perhaps it will return to nothing) or take action by reporting the matter to the authorities (relevant to this person’s place of employment). I’m still undecided, but leaning towards not having this kind of energy disrupting my life any longer. However, when I awoke this morning, my thoughts instantly went to this issue and what a mentally unstable person is capable of doing if they are so inclined. The fact that I’m posting here tells me (and you) that it is still an issue that is disrupting my life.

Sometimes I hate the way people behave with little or no thought –  and the fact that the internet makes the world too small a place and enables them to spread their poison.

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Posted on 12 November, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow. I know exactly how you feel, having been through something similar – involving a person from work, funnily enough (though mine was face-to-face – in the days before anti-social networking).

    It’s one of those Where The F**k Did That Come From? moments. Like being suddenly punched in the face, out of the blue. And it stays with you for months, years perhaps – you wake up in the middle of the night and think “I mustn’t think about… that time” and then you’re thinking about it and can’t get back to sleep for the rest of the night.

    My experience, like yours, came from someone I thought I got on with. I must tell you about it some time.

    As you say, in any case like this, just like the punch in the face, you have two choices: strike back, or turn the other cheek. I eventually chose to turn the other cheek, which is how I was brought up. This Christian response is no doubt ingrained in you also. Having said that, my working life would have taken an entirely different course if I’d retaliated (as in reported the incident to management and insisted something be done). I’d probably still be with HMRC, and not ended up twiddling my thumbs for several years.

    Don’t think I have any regrets though… if the course of my life had changed at that point, who knows who I’d be now?

    It’s at times like these, you should always remember the unofficial Calday Grange Grammar School motto:

    “F**k it, can’t be arsed”

  2. Ha! You may possibly have left the motto unfinished though; I’m sure it went on: “…for I come from a privileged background and mummy and daddy will rescue me…”. Ouch that sounds bitter.
    Anyway, sorry that you had an unpleasant experience like that – it sounds horrible.
    Oddly enough, I would much prefer to have such an interaction face to face – I suppose my former career helped me get very used to confrontation, and while I never found it enjoyable, I was well versed in dealing with crap like that. Stuff on the internet seems so cowardly – in this instance the person blocked me and then contacted my wife…cowardly, out-and-out nasty and pathetic.
    I must be straight about the ‘turning a cheek’ part – for me it’s about do I need to have this sh*t in my life, or am I better off just getting on with all the positive things about the rest of my life and leaving it behind – rather than having any altruistic feelings about being forgiving. I think leaving it behind is the way forward (if you see what I mean). Time was when I would have reacted like an angry pit bull, but perhaps I am mellowing – or perhaps just gaining a tiny bit of wisdom. I certainly hope so – I need as much wisdom as I can get!

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