‘When they go low, we go high…’
It’s become somewhat of a slogan for Michelle Obama, who first used the phrase during an incredible speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention – taking the high road and doing the right thing, even when it isn’t easy.
While Michelle may be able to rise above it, I (however much I admire her), still find it one of the most difficult things to do. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on… well, I won’t have forgotten what you did the first time so you won’t get the chance to even think of fooling me again.
I’m admittedly highly strung, easily rattled and have become more outspoken – even more so as I age – and as a result I find it enormously frustrating to have to keep my mouth shut and walk away when I see something that I believe to be untrue or unfair. Now that I’m self-employed I have to regularly check myself in what and how I say things because essentially, I’m on my own.
Unfortunately, especially when working online, a thick skin and the ability to take the high road is part of the job description. It’s a confusing world to be a part of – particularly in the fact that every aspect of content creation and interaction has the ability to be edited to show the best possible side to a potential audience. This seemingly deceptive nature of blogging and accompanying false sense of security and anonymity that a computer screen provides enables a person to say whatever they want, whenever they want, often without the same fear of consequence or reciprocation that they would be held accountable for in the real world. The longer you inhabit the online world, the more common it is to witness and potentially get sucked into the self-entitlement, angst and outrage that populates the blogosphere and social media platforms on a daily basis. In fact, there are entire blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to it – ‘Drama’ content that focuses on the quarrels and spats going on between influencers.
Blogging and everything connected with it not only has changed my life for the better in unimaginable ways, but it’s the one thing that, up until last year at least, I have loved and been consistently passionate about right from the beginning. However, it’s also been a staunch learning curve in the ability to take the high road and walk away. Indeed, I’ve thrown more than a few dummies out of my pram in my time, particularly when it has directly affected (or been affected by) my content, concepts or relationships with people that I have forged over the years, and it took far longer than it should have done to realise that interaction, attempting to appease or downright having a tantrum will do almost nothing.
I knew that in order to survive in the blogosphere, I had to take a different approach. My inspiration for change actually came not from Michelle Obama nor a member of the blogging community, but from a story told by a friend involving a drunken man on the bus.
Not long into her journey, during which she was already running late, a drunk and clearly agitated man got on and immediately made it clear that he wasn’t going to pay, but expected to be taken to his destination all the same. The driver was left with no alternative than to tell him he was calling the police and that we would sit there until they arrived. This didn’t stop the man from yelling, nor give him the incentive to get off the bus or purchase a ticket, and he took to stomping around and shouting incoherent words in protest at the rest of the passengers, clearly enjoying himself. Comments from some of the passengers for him to sit down and shut up had no effect, so my friend stood up and offered to pay for his ticket. Eventually, the driver (who must have realised that he was in a difficult situation) gave in and accepted the money, upon which he issued the ticket, the man yelled some more, sat down and we finally carried on. He got what he wanted, she sat down and kind gesture went unthanked.
I thought about it. She could have confronted him or waited for the police to arrive like the rest of us in an effort to be ‘right,’ but she took the high road and dealt with the situation in a way that allowed her (and everyone else around her) to continue with their journey with minimal fallout. Of course, it wasn’t fair that he got away with it, but I have the distinct feeling that a warning or sanction from the police would have made little difference to his behaviour in the future. He clearly needed help.
An easy comparison can be made to the blogging world. Most people are on their own journey, minding their own business and going about their day, and then there are those who thrust themselves into the personal space of others, taking opportunities to attack as and when they can, sometimes purely for the sport of it. Someone is always upset about something.
Steps for Taking the High Road
Do nothing. It’s the WORST. It’s unfair and frustrating but in the long run, definitely the most effective. No response means no further cause for communication. Without fuel, a fire will eventually burn out.
Block, delete and/or report consistent abuse, while avoiding challenging that person directly.
Remove yourself. I recently discovered an utterly fabulous quote: ‘Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.’ It’s so true. If the situation that you’re in is negative then take yourself away from it and regroup, even if it appears that you will lose out.
Avoid a knee-jerk response. The natural reaction to feeling attacked is to defend. Anger, disbelief, fear, sadness are all emotions that remove thought and rationality from our conduct. A time-out allows for an angry child to calm down, so don’t be afraid of creating one for yourself. If a response is absolutely necessary take that much needed time to calm down so that it is clear, concise and mindful.
Redirect any feelings of anger and frustration into being productive. I find this particularly useful – channelling the energy I would waste on fighting into working through my tasks for the day usually results in me feeling much better when everything is completed.
Accept the (however painful) fact that sometimes you may actually be in the wrong. In an argument of two sides, the truth can usually found somewhere in the middle and the blogging world is primarily made up of individual opinion. Remember that others are allowed to disagree with you and yours.
Remember that you have no control over anyone else and their issues, but you ARE in control with how you handle your own. Take a deep breath, walk away, carry on as you are and smash your day.
What about you guys? Do you find taking the high road difficult?
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Sometimes it is really hard, but usually it’s the best way especially online. But having dealt with some bullies in the workplace I have had to smack them down quite hard just to show that I am no pushover. Now all my colleagues all know that I will help them if I can, with a smile. But screw me over I will not now my head and take your shit.
That’s a really great way of dealing with it. It’s not worked quite as well for me I’m similar situations, which is why I now work for myself haha!
Well, you can’t really do anything about other people and you have to see what works in a given situation. You win some and loose some.
“…ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.” Absolutely love this, it’s a very poignant question. Also what I find difficult is remaining part of a problem through no fault of my own, a bit like the person paying the bus fare, which could be considered feeding the problem as opposed to dealing with it head on (you’re right, he needed help). I get the same in the workplace, people making unreasonable last minute .com requests, which is totally unprofessional, but are you going to say no, which could potentially meant you don’t win some work? It’s not straightforward!
Great post Suzanne, head scratching all round! 😊
That’s a really tough thing to deal with. Do you challenge and make it clear that they are being unreasonable and risk exacerbated further, or do you just walk away? The last time I challenged someone it ended up in the police being called from a train, so I’m a little more reticent now haha!
I think the ‘time and a place’ mantra is applied to those where you could potentially be doing yourself a disservice by being viewed as potentially uncooperative…deep breaths and raised eyebrows are always helpful, especially in person! You know how scary I can be! 🤨😆
Scary? You? Haha! You’re not scary, you’re half-greek!
A lot of wisdom here, Suzie, so very well expressed. We can only be responsible for ourselves as we can only change ourselves. I need to remind myself that if I’m still at the circus, it was me who bought the ticket.
Hahah! I love that… I’m going to add that to the quote
Such good advice and it can be the hardest thing to do at times.
Yes, I guess I go to the “Circus” far too often. So many of us interact in so many ways on social media – with people we know, many we’ve met online, and the others who also read that blog and have opinions, including opinions on your opinions….I had it happen yesterday: I remarked about not liking a certain film, and was attacked for reasons that had nothing to do with the film….bite my tongue? Yes, but boy was it hard!
I can imagine! I think some people just like to have a fight. The thing that annoys me is that they get away with being an asshole because others just walk away, but it’s always the best thing to do
This is such good advice, Suzie, but so hard to do. I get my dander up quite regularly but try to keep my blog especially neutral. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall inherit the earth.
Thanks lovely! What is it that irritates you?
Great points Suzie! I do not allow businesses to follow my blog. I remove the follow, they keep coming back but eventually go away. I’ve begun blocking IP addresses now for those who are most persistent.
I think of them as leeches, just blood suckers that don’t care about any content. It’s all about the money.
I’ve had to do that with a few people too John. I find it really funny that they waste so much time persistently following and sending promo stuff when they know they aren’t going to get anywhere…
No they won’t Suzie, some keep returning only to be removed again and again. One in particular has been trying for about two months but is removed again and again. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?
Sage advice Suzie
I prefer this Robert Frost poem that offers another choice of roads. :o)
I love that clown quote! On a totally unrelated note, I’ve had to admit to myself that my bloke is a fairly reasonable guy (maybe not after seven beers but I digress) so if he takes umbrage with something I’ve said or done, then maybe I’M the ass hat. I recently made a comment to someone about visiting Manchester if they wanted to go somewhere friendly and get out of busy, stressed London while in the U.K. Then I got a comment from someone else saying ‘London is also great, it’s not a competition’. I was about to be a smug git and reply with a sarcastic ‘Your absolutely right.’ but instead I just pressed the Like button.
Yours Sincerely, (Rehabilitated) Ass Hat xx
Hahaha! I really need to remember to use Ass Hat in my daily vocabulary! Totally rolling my eyes at the London comment – that’s exactly what I mean by someone is always butthurt…
Still not got used to the term ‘butthurt’ 😆
Hahahah! Try it – it’s quite fun to say!
‘Buttered’? ‘But her’? My Dad trying to figure out what the feck I’m saying. 😂
Hahah! It works so much better in a northern accent too!
‘Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.’ My new favorite quote. So many layers to peel off of that one.
Absolutely – it’s written in my Bullet Journal as a reminder haha!
Reblogged this on LIFE STORIES FROM LINCOLN.
Thanks for the reblog!
I don’t understand how people can live with such a negative outlook and get so mad at the most trivial things. There is so much vitriol online you can swim in it.
Twindaddy! Hi! oh my gosh yes i totally agree – I think some people get a little bit of a kick out of it! How are you and yours?
We’re doing okay, mostly. Staying busy and raising kids. How’s you?
I’m good thanks – plodding along nicely! So pleased to hear from you!