I sure do. I found it devastating.
It didn't end well for the egg.
In some ways, this secrecy is a very good thing.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde,
which I'm sure was the author's intent.
Judging people in a split second is a survival mechanism that is especially prominent in those of us who have been abused. I don't mean buying in to the illogical fears that fuel misogyny, racism, and homophobia. I would posit that those fears are taught and fueled by people who either fan that flame for their own gain or have bought into the rhetoric hook, line, and sinker. Humans exist on a spectrum, and an asshole is an asshole no matter the race, creed, or gender identity. The survival mechanism I'm referring to is the ability to read body language and facial expressions that we've all been developing since infancy. Accurately judging the mood of a person or crowd helps us determine intent and avoid injury. Verbal interactions can help balance out or fuel initial perception.
Whether you're an author or interacting with another human, your words have a lasting impact. Delivery is equally crucial of course, but your words are what you leave behind. They are what people share when remembering you after you are gone.
In the U.S. corporate environment, the expectation is that we behave like a bunch of unemotive robots. This applies to all people. I've heard women classified as bitchy or shrill if they are passionate about a topic while men are...well, just passionate. I've heard men referred to as weak if they didn't defend their work. Sniping at one another is fine as long as no one cries or yells, and if you get defensive, the sharks will scent that blood in the water and bait you for the fun of it. Don't cry in public. Ever. Body language is key. If you appear flustered or nervous, you're not knowledgable and your opinion is worthless.
The corporate environment is like a parade of social norms on steroids. I figured out early that confidence is key to gaining trust, I suck at maintaining a poker face, and closed up body language (crossed arms, lack of eye contact) puts people on the offensive. I'm very logical and direct, and I'm still learning to lead people to a conclusion because it goes over much better than just telling them they're wrong. There are people who play the political game and people who shoot themselves in the foot by navigating the social structure poorly. I will tell you that my ruthless honesty has led to several foot wounds.
What we say is what we are judged by at work. What we choose to share with other humans is how we are remembered. All of us carry invisible burdens. If someone is having a hard day and says something cruel, I will forever know them as the asshole who snapped at me on the bus. I will never know that they're worried about a child or lost their job that day. When someone unleashes on me, I try to remember that they have a secret backstory. They're reacting to more than me. But I will always remember them for the words they chose to share.
On the other hand, snark has been popular for a long time, and meanness is a fallback crowd pleaser. When a comedian's joke falls flat, they often turn to making fun of specific members of the audience. Sometimes ripping apart the audience is *the* shtick. It's funny until they turn on you, and then you're forced to laugh because in that moment you hate what they're saying and that you took joy in laughing at someone else. Mean is a defense mechanism used by people who lack confidence and can't handle criticism. We've seen it a lot this past year in particular. When a certain very public figure was accused of doing something wrong, he deflected the focus onto someone else by either drawing attention to physical flaws or maligning their character. It reminded me of every bully I witnessed in school, but what scared me was how effective the tactic is.
Hug your loved ones and remind your friends why you chose them over all of the other humans who surround you. Life is fleeting and the words we choose to share with others are our legacy.
How do you want to be remembered?