I did something ridiculously awful. I inconvenienced my neighbors in a way that would shock you. I was uncaring, invasive, and I just kept going. If my neighbors wrote to an advice column about how awful I had been, readers would gleefully jump in and pass judgement on me. They would feel righteously indignant. They would express sympathy for my neighbors who were most decidedly the victims of of some pretty bad neighboring. They would say about me: how could I not know how rude I was being? I must have known and I did it anyway, they would say. And it is so obvious. After all she kept saying she was sorry, but then kept doing the offending thing. She knew. She had to have known.
Well I did know. And yet I didn’t. In fact, I was utterly clueless. I am speechless as to why I was so clueless. It was so obvious. But it wasn’t. How can that happen? How do you apologize for something that you know you did but you couldn’t fathom how on earth you did it? It’s a lame excuse to be unaware and yet until I was told what I had done, I was completely. Unaware.
My husband tried to tell me early on. I brushed him off. He felt security in the fact that I was so secure and so he didn’t think of it again.
I cried when they told me. I was in shock. I felt so ashamed.
I confess I don’t want to be friends with them anymore. Even if they forgive me. I’m too embarrassed to be friends. I don’t want to be that friend that did that awful thing. All of their friends no doubt will think of me as that friend that did that awful thing. There is really no escaping the fact that I will always be that friend that did that thing.
If anything, this experience has made me realize what folly it is to pass judgement on other people. You just can’t know what is inside another person’s head. Even when things seem so clear, they really aren’t. It is truly impossible that I didn’t know, and yet I am proof that it isn’t impossible. I didn’t know.
The internet is full of opportunities to pass judgement on people. I think in a small way I know how that woman felt who tweeted about going to Africa and not getting AIDS because she was white. So many people jumped at the opportunity to call her racist, and yet she really was that clueless. Unaware. Just like me.
Dr. Phil is about passing judgement on people. You see persons who must know how screwed up they are, but you see they don’t. They don’t know and so they need help from Dr. Phil to get back on track. It doesn’t matter if he helps them though. All that matters is that we are watching and we are thinking to ourselves how functional we are because we’re not like those people. They are really screwed up.
I’ll never pass judgement on those folks again now that I know I am one of them.
In case you are wondering, I did apologize to my neighbors.