A couple of weeks ago, I was walking across the street when I was almost struck by a car. I don’t mean in the funny haha exaggerating kind of way that I normally blog. I was seriously almost hit by a car. It was less than a foot from my femur when I heard the brakes squeal and I looked up at two blank-faced individuals who had been, up until that moment, speeding through campus and now looked right at me like I might be one of those Looney Toon-style mirages that Daffy Duck is always seeing in the middle of deserts. Part of me thought I should let it slide. After all, they didn’t hit me. They weren’t the first drivers to ignore a crosswalk. Who hasn’t made a mistake like that? Another, bigger, louder part of me did not agree. Guess who won.
“There is a crosswalk here!” I shouted, gesturing dramatically at the boldly white painted lines beneath my feet. I stood there in the middle of the road for another 5-8 seconds, giving the most serious death-glare I could manage at the driver who was now staring with fascination at his steering wheel, his glove compartment, and rearview mirror. Slightly ruffled but with as much quiet dignity as I could muster, I walked deliberately the rest of the way across, thinking maybe I had overreacted. Maybe.
But here’s the thing. I’m not sure I did.
One of the things I have been recently realizing is that I let all kinds of things slide. I think that’s actually probably a pretty good thing. Pick your battles, says my mom/your mom/every mom ever. They’re right. There’s no point in getting your back up about every little thing that happens.
But I’ve noticed that lately I’d been letting things slide because I have somehow felt that I didn’t have the right to say that I didn’t like what was going on. I didn’t like feeling bullied or attacked every time I posted a status on Facebook, for example. Side note: I can’t be the only person who’s noticed that Facebook seems to have become the breeding ground for the unsolicited argument. If I posted that the sky was blue, three people would observe that I didn’t mention how fluffy the clouds were, two would berate me for not also commenting on smog levels, and one person would just flat out disagree (“Actually, Elizabeth, the sky is more of a cerulean depending upon the time of day and your relative latitude/longitude. Here’s a link to an article: www.iamrightyouarewrong.website.net”). And all I had set out to do was say that the sky was blue. When did Facebook stop being a place to stalk your ex-boyfriend, untag yourself in hideous college pictures, and start becoming a place where the mere presence of a Facebook status requires some seal of approval or systematic vetting/debunking by any and every person you have ever friended online? It’s not that I can’t debate well. I can hold my own. But that’s not why I’ve kept my Facebook account for this long. I started to notice how angry and tense just logging in was making me. I had, seemingly, four choices: 1) Argue back. 2) Let it slide. 3) Unfriend a lot of people/delete my account. 4) Just say directly what I had been really wanting to say. I noticed that I was letting a lot of people run right over the crosswalk. Facebook was starting to feel like a bizarre warzone which I kept willingly entering, hoping no one would engage me in battle. It’s a horrible feeling.
So I went with 4. I decided to just go ahead and SAY exactly how I wanted to be treated. Do you want to see what I said?
I hate passive aggressive FB statuses as much as the next girl so I'm going to be as straightforward about this as possible. I am only keeping my Facebook account to stay in touch with my favorite people, the people I love, love, LOVE, to see the pictures of their cute babies and celebrate their many joys and life successes. I'm not interested in having one more political/ideological//intellectual debate via Facebook. Have something you need to say to me? Get on a plane and come see me. Call me on the phone. Skype me. You might disagree with me. "That's not fair, Elizabeth. You can't post things if you don't want people to respond to them honestly!" Guess what? I don't care. Don't like it? Unfriend me. Bam.
Do I always get it right? Am I always one hundred percent fair when it comes to my online or real-life interactions? Heck, no. Somehow, though, this little thing – this calling a crosswalk a crosswalk – makes me feel more emotionally safe. I feel like I have taken charge of creating some safe space for myself in a world that is not always so safe.
What about you? Do you have a crosswalk you need to call a crosswalk?