Why you gotta be so mean?

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People can be mean.
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I wonder why?  What is the purpose?  I wonder why people feel the need to say things to make people feel bad.
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I have  friend who had an open house celebration for her business and she had a local chef making some appetizers for her. Someone spent some time eating the free appetizers and then felt the need to tell this shop owner the appetizers were awful, that she had better ones at other open houses.  Wierd.  What is that about?  What did that women expect to gain from criticizing the food anyway?  By the way, the appetizers weren’t awful, they were delicious!
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I taught a knit 101 class once and one of my students came back the following week and told me “YouTube is a way  better teacher than you”.  She went on to say that she worked in education and that she knew what good teaching skills were and that I didn’t have them.  That is what she said.
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We’ve had customers come into our store and literally throw patterns across the counter at us.  They say that the pattern is wrong and why would we sell a pattern that wasn’t right.  WHA?  Is that really the way to communicate a concern?
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Now, I totally believe that you should get what you pay for.  That if you paid for a class and didn’t learn something, you should mention that to the teacher.  That if you paid for food and it was bad you should be compensated.  But the way these people communicated was rough. And it takes a lot to weird me out.
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In my situation I certainly want to know if I could be better.  I offered the woman a refund and told her I was sorry she didn’t get what she expected from the class.  She declined the refund and said she intended on staying for the 2nd session because there were things she had to learn.  She walked out of the second session thanking me for a terrific class and said she learned a lot.  She even called me the next day and thanked me again.  Now, did she go out of her way to thank me because she regretted being mean to me?  I’ll never know because I am sure she won’t mention it and goodness knows I am not going to ask.
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I do have to give these women credit because they spoke up in person; face to face.  They came right up to us and said their peace.  They didn’t do it anonymously.  But we see anonymous mean things all the time right?  People who post on a blog, or in a comment on an online article.  The people who feel the need to beat people up or cut them down and they don’t have the guts to add a name to a comment.  That bugs me.
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The internet has improved our lives in many ways.  It has connected us to other cultures and experiences in ways that we never thought possible.  We learn about troubles in many parts of the world and can actually do something about it by making online donations or simply raising awareness by re posting, or writing our own blogs.  I know some would argue, but I would say the internet has improved our lives and increased our compassion and  that our freedom of speech has uncovered injustice all over the world.
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But where do we draw the line?
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Facebook and online news sources have given us the opportunity to tell people what we think.  Good or bad.  Most of the time the voice is good.  It is constructive, insightful, helpful and uplifting.  But there are also many, many times when it is negative, hurtful and just plain mean.  One recent thing comes to mind…The Stillwater Patch  (who does really good work by the way) posed an open question on Facebook “what do you think of Townie Tuesdays”.  Now, Shawn from the Patch is no dummy, he knows that when he poses an open question like that he’s going to get some crazy responses.  And more people are going to be driven to his website and Facebook page.  All of that is good for Stillwater Patch’s business.   But is it good for the rest of us?  The first comments he gets on that question are these responses…
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“Good to hear! Maybe the closing will keep the redneck, pickup truck, loud muffler and motorcycle crowd from Wisconsin off Churchill Street.”
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and
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“Redneck, pickup truck loud muffler, motorcycle crowd from Wisconsin… True ignorance! Take a look at your own residents!… I moved out of that town and would never move back because of people like you-because of your sense of entitlement and your thoughts of being holier than thou!”
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Now, both of these gentlemen did post these comments loud and proud.  Their names are attached.  Forever.  To these comments.  Wow right?  Now we are pitting Minnesota rednecks against Wisconsin rednecks?  Not sure how that is helpful or even relevant to the Townie Tuesdays  original question.  There are many more comments on this Facebook post too and lots of them are good, but the bad…oh the bad.
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I wonder did we have these discussions before the internet?  Would these two guys have gotten together at Whitey’s and had this contentious conversation over chili and beer?  (whitey’s has good chili).   Would it have ended with the Wisconsin redneck buying the Minnesota redneck a beer and slapping his back, or would they have been kicked out by the bartender for coming to blows?  Who knows cause our important conversations are online and often anonymous these days.
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We do have freedom of speech in this country.  And we are lucky to have it.
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But just because we can say something doesn’t mean we should, right?
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Life is short people…go forth and be nice.
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It’s been said that what goes around comes around.  If there is any justice I think the lady from my friend’s open house might spend her eternity eating bad appetizers.
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13 Responses to “Why you gotta be so mean?”

  1. Teri Larsen says:

    Amen, sister! The anonymity of the internet makes it easy to be rude and mean to others – even for no apparent reason. The rudeness of the folks you wrote about truly boggles the mind – especially since the comments were delivered in person!

    We DO have a right free speech. But, I wholeheartedly agree that just because we can say something doesn’t mean we should. As my mother always says, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” 🙂

  2. Karen Engelbretson says:

    “Life is short and we have not too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the dark way with us.  Oh, be swift to love!  Make haste to be kind.” ~ Henri Amiel

  3. Leslie says:

    Amen! Absolutely so well written and good for everyone to read and think about.

  4. Leslie says:

    Another comment I should have added. You are a fantastic teacher! I have a lot of trouble with patterns and your patience and understanding, during a class I took at DKA, was incredible. I have thought of that so many times and “thank you” again for that.

  5. Nikol says:

    Amen Sister!! I believe that you should always treat others how you would want to be treated! Especially online! And if someone treats you bad, blow their mind by being the bigger person and treat them with as much respect as you can muster. They are the ones who will have to live with their actions at the end of the day.

  6. Pam says:

    Sorry, Aimee. With the amount of people you come across in a week, odds are you’ll be dealing with a malcontent. Don’t take it personally. Most of us think you’re great!

  7. michele hokanson says:

    When ever I have a customer complain or is just plain mean, I apoligize and say I will try harder, and then I feel bad for them because I think they are probably having a worse day than me

  8. Andrea says:

    I’ve taken a class with you, Aimee, and you were fun, patient and a great teacher! Thanks for creating a wonderful environment at DKA! Your shop is one of my favorites (and I’m not just talking yarn).

  9. Carol Reuter says:

    It has been said that the way one treats a person who serves you, is the way you truly are. It’s true. We in retail are such easy targets, yet we are told we must be polite because we need that person to be a repeat customer. That is pitiful; it makes me want to be the snarky lady who says what NEEDS to be said, and to heck with the consequences. But then, things done rashly are never beneficial. I’m sorry you precious ladies have had to put up with such little minds. Believe that we know you to be treasures, and our knitting would never be what it is today if it wasn’t for you. Bless you!

  10. Mary Williams says:

    Aimee, among your many talents it would appear that you also have a gift for writing. Well spoken!!

  11. Rebecca Bohlmann says:

    Very well written, I love your shop and really appreciate more and more small businesses such as your’s, please don’t loose faith and remember us people who aren’t “squeaky wheels”!

  12. Debbie Mariana says:

    Very well said, Aimee. Whenever I think of that rude woman my blood boils. It’s usually insecurity, but that’s no excuse to humiliate someone. We all carry heavy crosses daily, but why add to another’s burdens by being mean? Here’s part of a quote I’d like to post…

    One Little Rose

    “I would rather have one little rose
    from the garden of a friend,
    than to have the choicest flowers
    when my stay on earth must end.

    I would rather have one pleasant word
    in kindness said to me,
    than flattery when my heart is still
    and life has ceased to be.”

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