You’re so vain…


…you probably think this song (post/status) is about you.

So sang Carly Simon many a moon ago. I believe she wrote it about a guy who had done the dirty on her in some way or another – but, for all the emotive inspiration, she had a point!

It is frighteningly easy to take offence at someone else’s writing, especially on the social sites, and to assume that a generalised rant (however intrinsically unwise) was crafted with you, and you alone, in mind. It is terribly easy to zoom in on key words which trigger certain strong emotions and to read the poem, the article, the paragraph from that perspective alone, to assume that the writer is having a go at YOU.

But, in so assuming, certain very obvious truths are overlooked. In the first place, unless the writer is a close personal friend/partner (in which case he or she would almost certainly have told you to your face!), how on earth can he/she know your trigger points? And why, if you are on the emotional periphery of that wordsmith’s life, would he/she have any wish to deliberately provoke you anyway?

I think Carly Simon did chance upon a truth about humanity: the vanity that comes from our feeling that we are centre of the universe, that everything is about us one way or another! Thus, songsters clearly write their lyrics with US in mind (even if they died before we were born!); writers who annoy/upset us set out to do precisely that; sculptors who chisel out an unflattering human figure vaguely reminiscent of us do so out of malice; political comments we do not agree with are paraded as a kind of childish taunt to anger us – and so on!

I can only speak for myself here (obviously), but I write as catharsis and emotional release. I focus on aspects of life which upset, annoy, anger, arouse, delight, amuse and interest me. Sometimes these inadvertently push buttons in others, but I do not set out to have this effect. I do not, that is to say, write to wound. Why would I?

At times, pieces written on Facebook disturb me greatly – and I will admit that I have been tempted to have a go at the writer. But something stops me each time – and that is, I guess, my own recognition of Carly Simon’s words: the anger expressed was not directed at me and I would be vain to assume otherwise.

When that emotion is directed at me, this is a different matter and one upon which I have to make an ad hoc judgement call each time. Generally, I allow a certain amount of latitude because I am aware we all have bad days and can rage unwisely. But, if it goes too far, or becomes a habit, I will take action: on here, I will Spam such comments; on Facebook, if a gentle but firm response does not work, I will privately message the individual concerned.

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8 thoughts on “You’re so vain…

  1. Legend has it that she wrote it about Warren Beatty … one of the most telling lines in the song that stuck with me through the … well … decades really, 🙂 is ‘you gave away the things you love’ … and I made me realise how many of the things I loved I gave away, in the hopes (figured out with hindsight’s 20/20 vision) they’d love me back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t they just, Noah! I mean, I have a propensity that way myself at times – but I would not go onto another blogger’s site and leave a hostile message just because my feathers had been inadvertently ruffled, and know you wouldn’t either! xxx

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  2. For years, everyone believed Carly was singing about Mick Jagger, but in recent times it has been suggested it was actually Warren Beatty.
    I agree with you though, more often than not the reader interprets the writer’s words totally differently to how they were intended, and yes, a response can make one bristle for the same reasons.
    For us, the writer, when we re-read what we have written, we know exactly what we meant, and unless someone knows you really well, how can a third party even begin to understand something emotional or heartfelt?
    I try to keep my posts light and inoffensive, unless I’m on a rant and then I put a warning at the beginning! Sometimes my wording has been tactless and I have been taken to task, but the way it was done made me realise how easy it can be to offend, and so I didn’t mind. I’m all for constructive criticism, but not pure spite!
    We are all entitled to our opinions, and even if we don’t agree with the writer (or think we don’t), there is no need to be rude or hostile should we choose to respond. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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