I was reading an opinion piece when I came across some parenthesis. Inside were the words “again, generally speaking”. Seeing that brought my attention to the society we live in. There should not need to be anything to clarify that statement was a general one. However, perhaps because of the influence of the internet, we are more aware of nitpicking than we should. We are in a world where we have a fear of being misunderstood.
Why do we have such a fear? Where does it emerge from? I will say it always existed, but now it’s more prevalent for a variety of reasons.
When someone says something, the anonymity and shield of the internet permits “trolls”, pretty much internet bullies and troublemakers, to pounce and remove focus from what was really important. If a quote is posted on facebook, there are enough people who focus on where it does not apply and for some reason conclude it never applies, they never understand the original message. Sure, it could be only 0.001 percent of a given population that does this, but they are vocal and at least appear to be legion. Hence the first reason is a combination of annoyance and, for lack of a better name right now, “drowning”. More simply put, “Trolls” are the reason.
The second reason would be Mistakes. We have enough experiences where we were misunderstood and it caused a huge mistake, problem, or confusion which later becomes a problem. There are also the cases when we were children and we felt misunderstood for what really happened. I still recall a moment when I felt like I could not reach my parents because they had a different idea ingrained their heads. It was certainly annoying and caused me a lot of trouble because they would not understand the facts. I also remember how a misunderstanding was the final straw in starting a “fight”.
I also remember some incidents while traveling. The language barrier helps us understand why misunderstanding is a pain. Sometimes I was told one case, but it was really something else. This led to me getting yelled at for doing what I thought to be right. In the work place a long time ago, I had a similar experience because one of my coworkers who was higher up would often yell at me over policy changes he misunderstood. It definitely did not make that a pleasant job. I don’t know about you, but I would think that “anger” is a good reason to fear being misunderstood.
Related to mistakes would be Misrepresentation. After being misunderstood, someone can go and misrepresent your opinion or words that can later harm you. This happens a lot when some words or phrases are taken out of context. This leads to extra trouble, or actual trouble, and needing to explain in detail what really happened. Did so-and-so really say that? No, it was said by another parodying her.
The misrepresentation can be a big deal. It can ruin someone’s name and honor even though they should be perfectly intact. However, correcting misunderstandings is very difficult. People don’t like having to fix their ideas, especially after they have been convinced it was right.
So there are quite a few valid reasons for not wanting to be misunderstood. However, we can only do so much. If we let that fear take over every single action and word, we will probably stress ourselves out way too much. It can also harm relationships. It is important to remember that we are human and we make mistakes. We need to learn to move on from them as well as be open to forgive past ones that come from misunderstandings and work to correct them.