So I’ve stopped watching an episode of the TV series, Heroes (Season 3) to reflect on this irritating hobby people have of being condescending when they are online.

The main culprit is my friend, The Best Friend. I do not want to deride him, but as his guilty of what I’ll talk about I might as well use him as an example.

I’ve noticed that online, whether friends or enemies, people tend to act mean, condescending, truthfully (though sometimes deceptively) and all round selfish. I’ve experienced this on Whatsapp from a variety of friends. Friends who treat you with the upmost respect in person tend to be rude to you online.

I get the idea that people, especially the Best Friend, have this false concept of me. I always do what’s right. Or I try to. I try my best to live according to the moral law which God himself gave us. Because of this I do not approve of certain things my friends do. I do not say it in their face. Most times I just don’t mention it.

Although I do NOT want to make this post about The Girl, she played a role here. As you’ve probably gathered from my previous posts, there was a time when The Best Friend and The Girl were serious about each other, though not officially in a relationship. As you probably also know I was (am?) in love with her. In love with a girl who was in love with my best friend.

One of the ways I coped with this situation was to glorify my friend in my mind. I thought, he’s a good person, he has depth, he’s handsome, he is fun, and most importantly, he tries to be a better Christian, he tries to do the right thing.

Then a while after I thought this he disappointed me. He talked about buying condoms. When I asked why, he simply said that a man should always have it on him. I told him that it’s simply unwise for a Christian. Not wrong, unwise. It gives the wrong impression to others and it makes it easier to curb to temptation. He said he won’t have sex. But then, why?

What made it worse was how he and The Girl talked about it. They wanted to “taste” it in a non-serious way. That really lowered my opinion of both of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I can understand if you are either an atheist or lukewarm. In such a case it’s not wrong to do such things. As Christians it also not wrong, but like I said, it gives the wrong idea.

Eventually when she visited him he and his brothers made a joke out of it by making balloons of it. I wasn’t there. All of this is what I heard.

I want to make two points here. Firstly, he disappointed me in the fact that I thought he would genuinely try to be better. We are all imperfect, I get that. I guess I just had too high standards. Secondly, I honestly wanted to help and I honestly, take my word for it, tried not to make my opinions condescending. I gave arguments for why he should simply drop it. All of this took place on Whatsapp.

I feel he got the feeling many people get about Christians. That we are a bunch of “holier than thou” kind of people who puts you off with our “righteousness”. That’s not the idea. I wanted him to be better. I especially wanted him to be more gentlemanly around The Girl, the girl I’m in love with.

This was just a long background for what I want to write about.

Admittedly our relationship was shaky, both before and after this. I barely saw him. I already wrote of what happened in the week I broke down (see my previous post). He was harsh on me on Whatsapp.

He sent me a song, quite a beautiful one. One he also sent to The Girl. I simply replied that it’s pretty. Honestly that’s my opinion. Then he went down on me about how I’m always so cold when I reply. That whereas the girl sent something of “wow. That’s SO BEAUTIFUL. I love it!!! [smily face]”, I simply didn’t feel the same way. He misread the emotion with which I sent it. I sent it positively, not as if I don’t care. For instance, if someone shows you something you can say it’s “nice”. It can either be a “wow, that is NICE” kind of “nice”, or simply a bored reply “so what” kind of nice. He sent multiple messages in succession about “why are you always like that? Why?”. And I honestly never were.

Such shit he won’t tell me in person. Yet online he doesn’t think twice. Afterwards I ignored him to a point where he was so  scared that he began to think I was brainwashed by a Christian group I’m in. It was so unlike me. But I never did explain to him that he was the cause of it.

A while before that, we talked. I mentioned, once when he was bored, that he could go out and look at the stars. I meant it passionately. And he knows I like astronomy. He replied “so what? I can look at a bunch of lights at the sky”. That is really mean. I wanted to tell him that he was absurd for wasting hours and hours on a friggin pathetic game (DOTA) and that his interest in fish was pathetic to say the least. I COULD be mean in return if I want to, but I’m not like that. I respect his interests.

He is also changeable. I know by now that I can’t trust his opinions, since it changes. He will hate stuff the one moment and love it the next. I mean a year before he was stunned when he saw Saturn through the telescope. Then he thought it stupid, afterwards (a short while ago) he sat on his roof and watched the stars.

People, it seems, do not really care for what they say. When I say I feel a certain way about a subject, I mean it with every breath in me and I won’t easily change my view. Yet some people say things which they don’t really mean, you know? At that moment they feel like that, but their opinions are full of air. Do you get what I’m trying to say? That people don’t mean what they mean?

To get back to the topic, people are condescending on Whatsapp. He wouldn’t have said such things in person.

I’m writing this because he did something similar right now and I thought I wanted to write about it. Just to share my thoughts with someone.

I have a problem. I need to get a place of residence for next year’s studies. Me and this friend want to stay together and we thought of a nice place, a type of commune. The problem is there is a hefty registration fee. Afterwards the first half of the year’s money should be paid immediately. That’s R10 000 and R20 000. To put in perspective, the newest DVDs in South Africa are sold for R160.

He is, as I always like to put it, in the high-middle-class, or low-high-class. His parents already paid it. I told him that my mother can’t pay immediately, but that my dad might be able to.

So now he keeps on pestering me about whether or not I have talked with my dad. “Have you talked with him?”. “It is getting critical”.

My mother cannot pay it now. My father can pay the first amount, the R10 000, but he can’t pay the R20 000 immediately. Thus we asked those people if he can pay it in December. Even then he has to borrow money.

My friend thinks it’s a simple case of asking my dad. He thinks, he didn’t say it but trust me, I know how he works, that I’m being inactive and that I don’t care. That I don’t realise that time is running out. That I’m not stressing about it. That we are taking our time.

He said last week that my father could pay the registration fee, then at least I have a spot. I told him it’s not that simple.

You see my parents are divorced and they are at each other’s heels. Then I live on my own during the week. So it’s a difficult three way problem, contacting my mom, contacting my dad, and trying to share to each what the other does.

I pointed out to my friend that while I’m in such a position; he lives at home with both his parents. They are on talking terms and he could easily discuss it with both. I didn’t mention the fact that they are also just plain richer than we are.

So now I see this message “It is getting critical”. Like I said, he thinks I’m biding my time. Meanwhile me and my dad are waiting for a reply over whether or not he can pay later.

Paying the registration fee will guarantee me a place, yes, but if my dad can’t pay the R20 000, then he LOSES the R10 000 he paid for the registration. You see, it’s not that simple.

But I know if I’m just gonna TRY and explain this to the friend, it will come off as excuses. As if I need to apologize to him. As if I am somehow subject to him. “What does your dad say?”.

My point is, he wouldn’t be like this in person, while I make a conscient effort to be the same online as I am offline. I am also subject to the desire to be different online. But I do my best not to be, for I am aware of this trend for people to have alternate cyber personalities.

This also happened to another two friends. The one is a rather unique fellow. He is kind of a nerd in that he always plays games on his tablet, reads a lot of novels and wears glasses. This year I started noticing an aggression in him. A passive aggressiveness.

He had this “girlfriend” earlier this year. I put it in quotes because they became in a relationship only after they saw each other once. Typical high school-style superficial relationships (but even then he was not in school anymore, but she was). Yet he really took the relationship seriously, evening breaking down (almost to the point of suicide) when they momentarily broke up.

When they talked over the phone, as in calling, he was making her feel guilty. With things such as “So you don’t want to talk to me?”. “That’s not nice of you”. And stuff like that.

He started doing it with me as well. After a busy week I talked with him online. I then stopped replying to our conversation after it died out. He then sent “It looks like you don’t want to talk to me anymore”. I simply ignored it. I’m not gonna apologise and become his submissive. He doesn’t realise it, but he has a kind of power relationship problem.

In person he is not like this.

Instant Messaging is also superficial if done wrong.

For instance I haven’t seen my other best friend, on this blog I call him The Other Friend, in months. In numerous posts I complained about this. Yet regularly he talks to me on Whatsapp about dumb stuff like the game he is playing.

It’s beginning to feel pathetic. Is he still my best friend? He is simply becoming someone I talk to over a device called a smartphone. That real life connection is getting lost.

People also tend to exaggerate on Whatsapp. I frequently hear of The Best Friend and other people having long, drawn out text fights with other people. Sometimes resulting in extreme drama and insults. By texting. I mean come on. That’s probably because, like I said, people are more willing to tell the truth over the phone.

It’s so pathetic. It’s really, honestly pathetic. Just pathetic. It is so superficial. I want to dare them to tell those things to each other in person and to fight it out in person. But they won’t. Because in person they have the patience to accept the problems. In person they are willing to keep their opinions to themselves for the sake of peace.

Lastly, instant messaging like Whatsapp also leads to superficial relationships. I remember at the beginning of the year in which I became 16 I talked a lot on Facebook with this girl. We really enjoyed each other… online. Yet in person it was as though we disappointed each other.

Before that when I was 15 I talked A LOT to another girl. So much that we didn’t even have anything to say to each other in person anymore. This was also wrong.

I see this with my Best Friend as well. More than once he “fell in love” with someone by simply talking to that person over the phone. He also, in the case of The Girl, fell out of love this way.

Think about it. In person when people date they enjoy each other. Yet in real life there are everyday problems. Such as dish washing, work and curtains. That’s right, curtains. So my friend became upset and that thought that The Girl is superficial for complaining over the phone about how she had to go wash her curtains.

I mean it sounds superficial, but in fact it is everyday life. If you talk to a person everyday online then you are bound to begin talking about superficial things. Unless you already know that person in person beforehand, it will start to irritate you.

These kind of assumptions made my friend lose his interest in her, yet she has more depth than he realises.

These are basically my reasons.

As a result of it all I made a few private and personal resolutions:

  • I will not get to know a person online. I have a speech defect and I am as a result of my cleft palate at birth a bit deformed in my face. And I’m an introvert. These three reasons make it a lot more attractive to talk to a person online, since I avoid direct contact. I can speak clearly and that person won’t get stuck at how I look and sound. As an introvert, speaking online gives me the time to think about my replies. Whereas in person I have to reply immediately, online I can take minutes. Yet despite all these advantages, I made a resolution not to give in to my fears. I will get to know you in person.
  • I won’t lose myself. Although I am also tempted to be very talkative online, I won’t lose myself. I’ll only say that which I am willing to say in person. This has to be a conscient action. You always have to be aware of this. You always have to make sure that you have the guts to be as truthful in person as online. If need be, tell the person on the phone what you want to say, but thenALSO say that you are willing to repeat what you said in person.
  • Be careful with your opinions. This ties in with the second point. Firstly, people can easily share what you texted with others. It can also be taken out of context. It is difficult to determine in what mood you said something. Like my “nice” example. Also, be careful not to give in to the temptation of giving negative or even positive opinions on the phone if you can avoid it. Simply drop it.
  • Make Whatsapp (or whatever IM you use) useful. Only use it for one of two things: Making arrangements and keeping up to date. The latter use should also be done with care. Do not bugger someone. Only once in a while should you take the time to at least find out how people are doing, not every moment of the day. Sometimes people go through something difficult and then you need to be there, even if only through Whatsapp.
  • If you are bored and unless you know the person the person well, only talk about superficial stuff. Like the game being played or jokes and such. At times me and the best friend talk about some deep stuff. But I already know him well in person, therefore it doesn’t matter that we talk about such things online. We both know we would’ve talked about it in person as well. But mostly, keep it light and fun.

These are the things I try to live by. Perhaps you find it useful as well.

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