Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rumors About You?

RumorsAboutMe gets quite a few hits from people searching for advice on how to handle being the subject of rumors.

Creating the site was my way of coping when I learned there were untrue rumors about me circulating.  It hurt.  Even being an adult woman with a great deal of good fortune in my life, it hurt to know anyone was spreading gossip about me.  I barely knew most of these people and it was unlikely that the rumors would any ill effects on my career or my social life.  It couldn't even have been more than a handful of people saying these things.  Nevertheless, it still bothered me.

My response was create this blog as an outlet for my feelings.  I made a joke out of it and started writing when I was upset because there seemed to be little sense in defending myself.   I wrote about the rumors, I wrote a poem, I wrote about other things that happened in my life.  I even let friends write a few things.  Sometimes I wrote fiction, other times recipes.  But then I saw hits from people searching for advice about what to do, why it happens and how to make it stop and I thought: maybe I can help a little.  Even just by letting those people that are searching know that it happened to me, too.

The searches come from all over the world, including societies where rumors about a person can result in serious life-altering consequences; loss of friends, loss of reputation, loss of self-esteem, loss of income and even worse.   That obviously wasn't my situation at the time, so I can only imagine the various scenarios each of you may be experiencing.  Each situation is different, certainly but there is some general advice that may help.  Here's a bit to start:

Do not speak ill of others, ever.  A person that doesn't participate in gossip isn't instantly protected from being the subject of it, but only good things can come from being known as a person that has not a bad word to say about anyone else.

Your response does make a difference so keep your head high and your shoulders back.  Look people in the eye.  Know that those with true character are reticent to believe ill of others if they haven't seen it with their own eyes.  It's normal to feel shame or embarrassment when one is the subject of gossip, but your internal dialog should be saying "Wait a minute here! I'm a decent person.  No one deserves to be spoken about this way."

Keep it in perspective.  Not everyone is talking about you.  It's usually a handful of people rather than every person you meet.  People that will talk about you have no compunction in talking about others as well, so do not allow yourself to feel persecuted.  You are not the first nor the last subject of this type of talk, and as someone pointed out to me, "That's just what they do. Everyone gets a turn and they will eventually move on."

If it isn't personally damaging to your health, family or finances, try to keep a sense of humor about it.  When confronted directly with some of the gossip, one can often turn it around to let the person sharing it know they are silly for believing such things.

Find a trusted confidant to talk with about your feelings.  It certainly helped me to sit with a friend and say "Can you believe they are saying this about me?"  He laughed with me, and shared my disgust and I felt like at least one person knew the truth.  Having an ally was a huge help.

And finally, tried and true advice from Mom for when you are having a hard time with anything in life,  "Stop contemplating your own navel and go help someone else. Take the focus off of yourself and you will feel better."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Did you mean that the way it sounded? Handling the Backhanded Compliment

Yet another reason to wonder if Facebook complicates life more than it's worth reared arose recently.  I received not one but two backhanded compliments from the same person in response to pictures I posted.  They came from someone I do not know well; certainly not well enough to assess intent nor to expect they have an ax to grind with me.

What an fascinating thing, the backhanded compliment: it leaves one so conflicted and confused, thinking first "Oh how nice" then "Wait a minute" then winding up at "Well how on earth do I reply to that?".

Online social sites like Facebook add a new dimension to the occasion of these uncomfortable statements.  Where normally you can easily let a remark pass with a simple blank look or a change of subject, the online remark is usually posted in a way that others can see it indefinitely unless one takes action to remove it, risking the creation of even more awkward feelings.

Both online and off I choose to ignore backhanded compliments and I think that's the best route to take.  With people I know well I might gently poke back at them and make light of remark, knowing that my friends never intend to make me feel badly.  "Thanks, Friend!"  If it really stings I would just privately message them and say  "Wow, I don't think you realize how hurtful that was."

In this case I ignored the comments and later was later realized I was just being overly-sensitive.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Random Employment Advice

As satisfying as it may be, it's probably best not to use the word "subterfuge" in the same sentence with the name of the person running your company.  Unless you don't actually want to keep your job.

Despite that fact that I did actually enjoy my job, I personally found the experience so delightful that 5 months later it still makes me gleeful to think of it.  Of course, I'm a little odd that way.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Charlie Sheen: Hard to Watch

The debacle playing out with Charlie Sheen on the internet, television and radio might be pure entertainment for some, but for many of us with drug addicted family and friends it's difficult to stomach.  We've seen the gaunt face, the wild eyes, those buckets of sweat pouring off of someone for no apparent reason.  We've uttered those words we heard his father, Martin Sheen say, "He's doing well"  and hoped against hope that were true.

Charlie Sheen's troubling antics mirror the way we've seen our loved ones behave; the paranoia, the delusions of greatness, the claims of invincibility, blaming everyone around for their problems, and worst of all the belief that no one knows that they are still in the grip of the drugs. Martin Sheen was right when he said "If he had cancer how would you treat him? This disease of addiction is a form of cancer."  The difference is that this cancer is something the leaders of this country could address but instead are ignoring and allowing.

It's not entertaining to watch a man suffering from the disease of drug addiction, and Mr. Sheen is not even remotely unique.  He is exactly like every other opiate addict, destroying his body, his career, his loved ones while people that care about him look on helplessly.  It is surreal to watch because it is a terror so many of us are living with personally and privately, but it's playing out as a public scene.  One hope is that he is garnering enough attention that our leaders in Congress may begin to grasp the reality of his problem.  Maybe they will begin to realize that drug addiction is pestilence with more power to destroy this great country than any terrorist or war because it destroys not just our our bodies, but our minds and our will.  No act of terrorism can cause that level of destruction.

A family member made an interesting comment about the US troops in Afghanistan and the poppy seeds that US based drug companies need to create these drugs that are destroying our country.  "The troops are deployed there, but it's here on the streets of our country that people are dying."  It's a connection I cannot quite grasp, but there is something there that is truly sickening just beyond my reach.  Even worse than the possibility that we are fighting to protect our oil source; what if we are fighting to ensure continued access to a key ingredient in the drugs that are responsible for the destruction of so many of our own citizens?

It is not possible that these drug manufacturers are unaware of the reality of where most of their drugs are being used.  They have marketing departments.  They have data.  They have statistics and trends and more information than you or I can imagine. Their best clients aren't going to the doctor for a prescription; they are people like my loved one and Charlie Sheen.  How can our leaders not know of the pharmaceutical drug problem that effects so many people in our country? Yet they allow it to persist nearly unchecked.  

The proliferation of legally manufactured pharmaceutical drugs in our country since 9/11 is surely making a great number of people very wealthy but ultimately if we continue on this path they will destroy us all.  If you want to see exactly what I mean, just keep watching Charlie Sheen.