Here’s an experience. Perhaps you’ve had it. Me? It happens to me shockingly often.
I write something. It might be a general something. It might be a tweet or “subtweet.” Maybe it’s a little sarcastic. More often, it’s not. More often, it’s earnest, straightforward. Serious.
And then, an hour or day later, a person – who I never imagined could possibly be offended by what I had written – because I hadn’t thought anything offensive, hadn’t written anything I understood possibly could be construed as offensive – is horrified by what I’ve written.
This is either because a) I’ve revealed myself to have no fucking sense of humor, not to have understood they were joking, and can’t I take a fucking joke, or b) I’ve insulted, offended, upset, outraged, or whatever the person in a way that’s essentially unforgivable.
In either case, the upshot of the communication I receive is, “… and let’s never interact again.”
There are two things that universally seem to characterize these sorts of interactions, best I can tell:
1) They happen in the context of quasi-sexual relationships that have evolved in primarily public spheres (on the comments pages on blogs, on Twitter, on Google+). With me, it’s women who react this way, invariably. And it’s women with whom I’ve flirted just a little.
2) They happen in public, or semi-public. Both my offense-giving and the resultant outcry.
For the record, if I’ve offended you, I apologize.
But in the coming days, I plan to offend a lot more….