I’ve had the chance this week to see a few online-type people up close and personal in ways I had never expected and honestly wish I hadn’t. It was junior high all over again, with tempers flaring up over stupid little things, name calling, foot stomping, and echoes of “Go away, we don’t want to play with you anymore!” vibrating through the cyber walls of the Internet, and petulant ignoring on a grand scale.

I’m almost always surprised by juvenile behavior in adults; I shouldn’t be, since it seems like the older I get the more childish people tend to act. But when I see it in people I tend to think of as friends…yeah, that blows me away. It makes me question my ability to judge others. It makes me wonder why I bother to trust certain people. Sometimes the immaturity placed on display is amusing; sometimes it’s painful. Once in a while, it’s both.

Last year, right about this time, even, I was fired from being friends with a group of people (April 26, ‘04) because I am—and this is a heinous crime—too quiet. I was more amused than anything then, I think, and grateful that I found out who these people were before getting too ingrained with them.

This year, the horror of my behavior is that I asked to not be told, or be subjected to, any Pope jokes when the Pontiff died. I’m not Catholic, but I find that kind of humor pretty much on the gross side of disgusting. The request was mistaken as “Hey, don’t even talk about the Pope.” The foot stomping and screaming began: how dare I tell anyone what to talk about? Who the hell do I think I am? Even after the initial problem was cleared up, the whole thing disintegrated further, with one member of the group slamming the virtual door behind her because I had the nerve to express opinions (and remind them of things they’d said before on the subject of the Pope) when I’m not even Catholic.

Sorry, folks, I have opinions on lots of things. I have opinions on our President, and I’m not a Republican. I have opinions on cars, and I’m not a mechanic. I have opinions on booze…you get the idea.

However, if I express an opinion on President Bush, I doubt Dick Cheney is going to have a temper tantrum and leave the country, and I doubt Donald Rumsfeld is going to pout and stop talking to me because his bestest friend has stomped off.

After a few days of chewing on it, wondering why any of this even mattered to me, it hit me: it’s not the fact that a small group of people got so bent out of shape because I first asked for no Pope jokes and then reminded them of all the Pope bashing they had already done. It’s the fact that I’m being held responsible for someone else’s behavior. It bothers me because the person who seems to be doing the most pouting and deliberate ignoring is someone I placed a certain amount of trust in.

Hey, if someone is going to stomp off the cyber playground because they don’t listen, they over-react, and because of that get their feelings hurt, I’m probably not going to stop them. But when I haven’t been given even the remote opportunity to apologize for hurting their feelings, and am held to blame because they ran away…It takes a whole lot of tongue biting to not fire back some fairly childish salvos.

Kiddies, when you blame a person for how someone else reacts, it says more about you than it does about the person you’re trying to punish through your deliberate and painfully obvious actions. While the person you’re ignoring might feel hurt, really, you just look petty.

So yeah…while last year’s being fired left me sitting here scratching my head thinking, “what the fu--?” this time around I’m a bit stung by it. It took me a couple of days to realize I’m more disappointed than anything else, and that there’s at least one friendship there I will miss.

And my guard is up.
Because of junior high crapoloa, my guard is now up.

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