Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Buttons and Irony

I got an email from X today. It was one of those emails where X unwittingly (I think) pushes some of those buttons we all have.

The irony is that the button has to do with privacy, and my desire for more than X thinks is necessary. So by telling you about X's email, I've done pretty much precisely the thing that X does that drives me crazy.

I don't know how to respond. I can comply, which really wouldn't make the world come to an end, but would bother me.

I can tell X no. That could result in anything from hurt feelings to a minor blow up. The blow up would be all about how horribly secretive I am, and how I never communicate about anything. And that's all basically true. I don't communicate with X about a lot of things because I know that X will use any and all information against me and/or X will tell everyone about anything and everything.

Or I can just let it slide by and not do it. That's sort of passive aggressive, maybe, certainly non-confrontational. It's also how I've tended to handle things. I don't tell X that I'm not telling X something important. I simply don't give even a hint that there might be something to tell.


  1. could X possibly be my evil sister?

  2. Well, that's sometimes how I handle my parents, but there are usually less dire consequences when they find out I've been doing something they're curious about. Namely, persistent questioning.

    In this case, I think you're justified in defending yourself from X's excessive button-pushing, however you think will defuse the situation without hurting anyone's feelings.

  3. Wow, yeah, that sounds like X might be related to my mother. I know that any information I share with her about my life is likely to end up on an email to everyone in her address book - worse, misunderstood and THEN the mixed up version ends up in an email to everyone she knows. So I pretty much just stopped ever talking about myself to her.

    I'm pretty sure that isn't the best response, though, so if you come up with a better one, let us know!

  4. X uses information against you. that's enough reason to be protective of yourself. sharing with the world is just icing. i don't communicate regularly with my evil sister [or tell her personal stuff] for exactly those reasons.

    when our dad had cancer, i once emailed the Evil One and asked her to please, if she had a problem with me, tell ME and not complain to dad. i explained that my research suggested people with stage 4 metastatic cancer would not recover, and i did not want him burdened with worrying about his children fighting. she replied with 2 of the nastiest missives i ever got in my life.

    what i didn't know was that she blind-copied dad with her screeds. he was so distraught that his sister drove 150 miles to give me a piece of her mind about upsetting him. at that point, i decided the only thing i could do was keep communications to a minimum and NEVER tell the evil one ANYTHING personal.

  5. Passive-aggress (if that were a verb) with a smile and a clear conscience. If X has done you dirt in the past, a no-information policy seems the best.

  6. Kathy A, I may be your evil sister! Hmmm, confusing.

    Kermit, I don't think X really sees this as a button because X doesn't see hir behavior as a problem.

    Kathy A, I take it back; I don't think I'm your evil sister. If you need the use of a semi-evil metaphorical sister, I can probably fill in, though.

    Undine, Alas, I can never really have a clear conscience about all this.

  7. um, no thanks! that part's covered!

    does this post have anything to do with today's post? you don't have to answer that.

    i try to not attack people personally -- it is far more useful to talk about events and behaviors and consequences flowing from them, usually. i struggle over how to handle complicated situations -- and family politics or work politics can land in that category.

    but there are situations [or policies, or whatever] that are intolerable, or just plain bad, and my best efforts to deal with them may not be good enough. for what it's worth, all we can do is the best we can -- it may not work, and it may piss people off, but we tried.

    the hands-off policy with my evil sister is something i had to do both to tamp down the crap that was hurting our dad, and for self-protection. engaging with her just meant more grief all around. sometimes that has also been true in workplace situations, with particular people. doesn't mean shutting up; it means deploying resources strategically.

  8. Anonymous7:04 PM

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