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.

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