Your Actions Should LIGHT You, Not BITE You!
A well-known author whose work I respect recently made an observation in a Facebook comment about another author whose work I also admire. The first author posted this opinion of the second author (I’m paraphrasing here): “I sat beside her once, and let me just say it was not a warm and fuzzy experience.”
This surprised me, as I found the author on the receiving end of the pronouncement to be more than gracious the one and only time I was fortunate enough to speak with her. It was a circumstance where she could have blown me off and I would have understood, but instead she took the time to talk with me.
So here you have two different people whose view of the same person—someone we both met only once—differs by a mile. I found that interesting and also scary. It illustrates how our public behavior, especially in this age of social media, exercises life beyond the moment. One little snippet in time may follow you forever. (Every teenage girl in America with an Instagram account: Are you paying attention?!)
Here’s another example. My friend’s husband, Ted, is involved in the movie industry here in Georgia. He has a regular day job, but he is often called to appear as an extra in movies. Ted recently played a nonspeaking role in a movie starring Ben Affleck. Before Mr. Affleck arrived on set, the extras mulled about with some of the other actors waiting for the shoot to begin. Ted ended up beside a famous actor—you might not recognize his name, but you’d know his face if you saw it—who was, in Ted’s words, “So arrogant. We stood side by side for half an hour and the guy wouldn’t say boo to me. When I tried to say hello, just being pleasant, he blew me off with a look.”
Since I happen to like the actor Ted was talking about, his description of events disappointed me in the extreme. And again—Naked Truth—my opinion of the actor is now colored with the paints Ted used to describe him. I still appreciate the man’s acting skills, but when I see him on television or in a film, Ted’s experience will hover in the back of my mind like a thug at the wrong end of a dark alley.
I was afraid to ask about Ben Affleck, because I do like him, have enjoyed watching him become successful in the fickle movie industry, and didn’t want to have my rose-colored glasses yanked off and tossed in the mud. I know this shocks you, but it turns out I’m nosy. I did ask about Ben Affleck, and Ted said, “Nicest guy ever. When he arrived on set he made a point of meeting everyone, even the extras. He introduced himself to each one of us individually.”
Classy. Rose-colored glasses still intact.
But there’s unfairness here. I’m able to discount the negative opinion of the author I respect because I have my own personal experience to balance it out. Not so with the actor. And even though I know I’m being unfair, I can’t “un-tell” Ted’s story in my head. Whenever I see that actor I’ll think of a guy who couldn’t be bothered to offer even a smile to the person standing next to him.
It bugs me that I feel that way. Ted didn’t know, and I don’t either, why that actor behaved the way he did on that particular day. Maybe he’d received bad news or was suffering a migraine and couldn’t face being social. Hey, we’ve all been there. Or maybe he really is just arrogant. Who knows?
And the author. Would my opinion of her be changed if I hadn’t my own personal experience to rely on? Why did she behave in such a way that another author would make a negative statement on social media? Did I happen to catch her on a good day, or did the other person catch her on a bad day?
The Naked Truth is that although none of us is “on” all the time, we still must be aware of the fact that social media, and media in general, never shuts down. I sure don’t want to be negatively judged by my behavior in a single moment, or a single afternoon, no matter the reason for my lapse of good grace. I won’t squawk, however, if you blab about my virtues. I’m really generous that way.
Seriously, though, in today’s world, Buttercup, someone is always watching, and people will make judgments in a heartbeat without knowing all the facts. I’m not advocating putting on a false show, not at all. The Naked Truth matters. But knowing that what we do in this moment may mar someone’s opinion of us forever—or, to put a positive spin on it, endear us forever—sure offers great incentive to mind our manners.
What about you? Has your good opinion of someone ever been changed by their poor behavior? Have you ever personally been judged—or misjudged—by your behavior in a single instance? Put yourself In the Buff! Tell the Naked Truth.
Enjoy your Wednesday, y’all –