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The problem with an overly active imagination can often be the stuff of conspiracy thriller nightmares. If you lose your focus it can be quite easy to assume that YES the whole world is indeed out to get you and there ain’t no dang thang you can do about it except stuff on the tinfoil hat and hope for the best. Except, sometimes, it transpires that it was all just a massive mistake. The problem isn’t the event, per se, it’s how the whole thing was communicated to begin with. I have lost count of the number of times such breakdowns in my personal communication have caused drama flashpoints over the years, and this week frankly’s been a massive case in point. Except that in the middle of it all, there was redemption. It had nothing to do with the rest of the World making itself better understood, it was all down to me.

For a writer, actually making my own points of personal principle is always incredibly hard work.

You don’t WANT necessarily to throw body and soul into everything you do, even though some will tell you if you don’t you’ll be immediately found out. The massive disadvantage in sticking your heart on your sleeve is simple: you will get hurt, big style, and this will inevitably result in people questioning your motives and telling you you’re too involved. Doing that on the Internet’s the Mother of all Red Flags too, because EVERYONE will jump in to tell you that there’s something amiss if you can admit such a thing in front of a bazillion random strangers and not to your family or friends. To that I respond that this will entirely depends on who is actually listening to begin with. Thinking friends and family will care? Doesn’t always happen, trust me on this. You’re actually far more likely to find someone randomly who’ll read your cry for help and realise what it is, just because they’ll identify in your words a part of themselves they see so ‘carelessly’ exposed. It’s always reassuring to know who the really decent people are out there when this happens. Trust me, if you’re reading this and you’ve caught me at a bad time and asked me if I’m okay, I’ll remember you. I’ll know who you are and your concern isn’t simply registered, it is saved for when I need it most.

I know who you are.

Then, there is the other side of the coin.

Nobody is deliberately out to get me, I’ve established this, but there will be those for whom control is as much a part of their lives online as it is off. I’ve often been accused of this over the years and yes, I think it’s fair to say that I do still have my moments. Maybe that’s what makes it easier for me to notice when I’m being deliberately manipulated, I’m not sure. The key, of course, is to immediately and sensibly attempt to put the issue in perspective: does the person who’s doing this actually matter to me? Should I make some kind of attempt to address the concern? Is it worth saying anything at all or should I move on? Oddly, I find myself looking at motivation more than action in situations such as this. I’m looking at the other person first to see how they react, rather than feeding my own indignation or annoyance. Let the other person decide if they take the front foot, consciously move to the back foot, because nothing more accurately shows intent for me than how people will respond when NOT provoked. When you ask them to provide the context first, it often stops being about confrontation.

Maybe I have actually learnt something by bringing up two kids after all.

Red is off. Even I get that.

In the end, I respect people the most when they treat me as an equal. I don’t like being pushed into corners, I am never a fan of being made an example of when there is no evidence to support it. What upsets me more than anything else is when people don’t think about why I do something, they just think about what the consequences are for themselves and don’t look at the bigger picture that I might have spent weeks, even months painting… which is a bit of a downer on the Internet where everyone won’t know me from the next random Avatar. In the end, there has to be an understanding of when you stay and fight a cause and when you realise it’s not actually worth it and walk away. Sometimes people do deserve a second swing at things however, and if they take the time to explain why and show that actually their motives are decent, you do indeed owe it to them and yourselves to make a move and meet them halfway.

However, if you single motivation is flawed, in ANY way, shape or form, it doesn’t matter how you encourage or engage with people. Eventually you will be found out. People will see you for what you are and no matter how hard you try, the game will be over. You have to accept that good comes with bad, that you have to deal with everything at some point. In fact, how you deal with the bad is likely to make you a better person for the experience. At least, that’s how it’s working out for me… because even after 47 years I am a work in progress. Being older doesn’t suddenly make me like this wise person who has all the answers. In shock news it makes me 78.6% more likely to stuff everything up at the drop of a hat. This week is living proof that it doesn’t matter how great or dumb you are, EVERYONE screws up sometimes. When you do, how you deal with that can tell people a great deal about what kind of person you really are.

All I can hope is that how I’ve reacted in the last seven days is a decent testament to myself.