Taking Things Personally

by Jason Falls |

The single hardest thing in the world for a person to do is disconnect emotion from experience. It rips the fabric of human nature to do so.

This big world we live in hurts an awful lot because we can’t do this well. Whether it’s criticism from a boss or co-worker, someone giving you the stink eye in traffic or just the fact your spouse rolls over and goes to sleep without saying much, the reason is seldom what we think it might be.

Part of this is ego — the bad kind. We think the world revolves around us and so the cold shoulder is certainly because that person is mad at us. Surely it can’t be because they’re mad at something else. Or tired. Or distracted.

Alone
Image by JB London via Flickr

Part of this is ego — the good kind. We all just want to be accepted.

The Internet and its halls of social media amplify the problem. We build these superficial connections, call them relationships or friendships, but seldom actually know those with whom we communicate so frequently. The slightest variance in the norm and suddenly our antennae raise, defenses gather and we convince ourselves that the snarky comment was directed at us. Personally.

The more of these passing connections you gather, the worse it gets. Unless you can detach emotion.

But therein lies the conundrum. Doing that belittles the connections in the first place.

How do you react to criticism from weak ties? Is it as strong as that from strong ones? Should it be? Is the criticism warranted, valid or even about you in the first place?

It’s easy to say you don’t care, but most people do. Social media is an opt in activity. If you don’t want to read a blog, follow on Twitter or connect on Facebook or LinkedIn, you don’t have to. But when someone who is reading or following stops … It hurts a little. You wonder why. You question your value. You take it personally.

Even just a little. And that is part of what makes social media human. Sometimes it hurts.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).