Overhearing And Overheating

There is an old saying that you’ll never overhear anything good about yourself. I think it’s intended to tell people not listen in to other’s conversations – an aid to good manners. Well and good.

But you move into a different part of the garden when you are part of a general conversation and someone refers to you. If you are known to be in the group that is legitimately listening, the remarks are intended for your ear. And if they are unpleasant ones you have every right to resent and rebuff them.

Of course that may have been the intention in the first place – an insult to provoke a fight. Judge carefully before you comply with this sort of provocation – you can sometimes do more good by ignoring it, or speaking blandly, than you can reacting angrily.

The game has slightly different rules when the material is written – whether it is printed or broadcast, personal comment that hits print is durable, and if it is not pleasing may lead to more consequences. Of course the insult/bait combo is always present in quick internet exchanges – you have only to see the flame wars of the forums to realise this. They’ll frequently devastate the electronic countryside but rarely result in victory for anyone.

It’s even more fraught when social media is used to broadcast cris de coeur – we see them frequently as people vent their emotional distresses, and we so rarely can do anything to assist. The very act of letting off steam may help – however sometimes people have such a head of it that they are constantly lifting the safety valve. I’m sorry to say that just as train crews eventually grow deaf to the sound of escaping steam, so do Facebook subscribers. Overheated engines are shunted off to a side track and not fed any more coal until they cool down and it’s the same with the humans.

I know I’ve done my venting in the past – sometimes it has helped and sometimes not – but I’ve decided now to write up most of my troubles but let those complaints sit in the pending tray…until they can be moved to the trash and deleted.

Time seems to tone down most troubles.

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