Am I unreasonable?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Am I unreasonable?
140
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 3:51am
So this kind of scenario happens often where I live. I will be out somewhere in public and some random stranger, nearly always male, will say hello or otherwise attempt to engage me in conversation. I will respond minimally, if at all, and nine times out of ten the person who spoke to me berates me for being rude.

I think they are the one who was being rude by trying to engage me in conversation when it was completely uninvited and unprovoked. I think it's rude to do so with the expectation of full reciprocation. I think if you are going to randomly try to chat up strangers you should be able to accept that they may not always WANT to talk to you, and may not appreciate feeling forced to. I am not an outgoing person. I especially do not feel comfortable around men having been a victim of rape and sexual assault several times. It takes a lot for me to trust people, and being addressed by a stranger feels like an invasion of my personal space and is frankly kind of scary. I once had a guy follow me off a bus and for several blocks, yelling at me for not responding to him. (I had headphones on, but I didn't want to talk to him anyway.)

One might say, well how hard is it to just say hi back? Well, sometimes when you do they take it as an invitation to engage you further, and I have no desire to encourage that. To turn it around, how hard is it to leave someone alone if they obviously don't want to talk to you? It really makes me not want to ever leave the house.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Sun, 08-26-2012 - 2:18am

I am trying to figure out how this thread has come so far from the OP?

 Maybe you want a stranger to understand you, I don't know. Your turning away from a simple gesture like hello is not the stranger's problem.

Does age actually say this? In the OP she describes a man following her for blocks because she didn't respond to him. And she was wearing headphones.

Sorry, I totally understand where she is coming from and for anyone who thinks it's ok to berate another because they refused to exchange social niceties with them, is being completely unreasonable.

I think you need to take her own advice. People shouldn't assume to know what others are going through, but that goes both ways. Seriously, if I say hello to someone and they don't respond .... I am not going to treat them poorly or be rude to them. I definitely wouldn't follow them for blocks yelling at them because they wouldn't respond to me.

btw, yes, as humans, we should try to understand others grief and what they are going through.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009
Sun, 08-26-2012 - 11:13am

She cited that as one example and only one example.

No one is telling her that she has to respond to stalkers or to strange men following her.  That has been very clear from all the posts to her.

 

 

 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Sun, 08-26-2012 - 1:04pm

No one is telling her that she has to respond to stalkers or to strange men following her

LOL ... I didn't say anyone told her anything.

That has been very clear from all the posts to her.

What has been very clear? Considering I didn't say anyone suggest she talk to stalkers, then this is a moot point.

How do you know who is a stalker and who isn't? All I said, I thought very clearly, was one never knows what is going on with someone else. If someone decides not to smile back or engage in conversation, this is no reason to be rude to them ... even if one feels, for whatever reason, not saying hi pr smiling is rude ... this does not mean one should reply in kind.

To be honest, when I read the OP and the initial replies, it reminds me, as I said previously, of people approaching me, say, at the playground, and they proceed to tell me their life story. I might be reading or talking to someone else or maybe, just not in the mood to talk to anyone. I've had people follow me around stores, continuing to talk to me about very personal matters. They are being intrusive and rude. I am not rude back to them.

I honestly do find a smile or hello is often times an invitation for people to continue to talk to me. And that is fine sometimes, sometimes it's not.

I a not commenting on age's mental health because I feel thatj ust furthers the belief that one never really knows what is going on with someone else. If someone doesn't want to be bothered, one shouldn't bother them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Sun, 08-26-2012 - 5:59pm

>>Even if you want to consider, was it, an autistic child, (?) what if the guy behind you thought he was just another kid trying to cause trouble? <<

While my son's autism may not be evident for the first 15-20 seconds or so, his physical disabilities are immediately obvious.  

Edited to add: those who don't know him assume his physical issues are due to cerebal palsy.  Add to that the fact that I'm beside him on the stairs giving physical support,.    I just can't see how a 15yo boy requiring his mother's support on stairs and walking like someone who has cerebal palsy can be mistaken for anything other than a teen with significant disability.

>>I think the assumption any one wants to engage is chit chat with another person is rude<<

And I don't assume someone wants to chit-chat.   If someone politely replies to me and their manner indicates they don't want to chat, I won't think they are rude.   It's the absense of basic civility which I think is rude.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Sun, 08-26-2012 - 7:27pm

While my son's autism may not be evident for the first 15-20 seconds or so, his physical disabilities are immediately obvious.

I guess my point is, it doesn't matter. I've had people rudely make comments or huff and puff because my perfectly healthy, then 3 year old took too long going through a door. Or my 2 years nearly bumping into someone's 3 year ... I go give many examples. The point is I have no idea what was going on with the other person, but I do know, it is not helpful to be rude to anyone ... even if I perceive them as being rude.

And your son has an obvious disability. Not everyone does. It's not right to be rude to anyone or even to judge why, maybe, they are responding to you in a way you perceive as being wrong.

 If someone politely replies to me and their manner indicates they don't want to chat, I won't think they are rude. It's the absense of basic civility which I think is rude.

Yes, for one thing, but you are picking up on what their manners indicate. Not everyone does.

And who decides what is basic civility? Saying hi to everyone you meet, come in eye contact with, the woman sitting across the park etc?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Sun, 08-26-2012 - 9:13pm

>>I guess my point is, it doesn't matter. I've had people rudely make comments or huff and puff because my perfectly healthy, then 3 year old took too long going through a door. Or my 2 years nearly bumping into someone's 3 year ... I go give many examples. The point is I have no idea what was going on with the other person, but I do know, it is not helpful to be rude to anyone ... even if I perceive them as being rude.<<

I see the behaviour you describe (and my son's incident on the stairs) as bullying.   That is, a strong person picking on someone weaker/smaller for no good reason.   Absolutely unprovoked.   

Now, I was bullied for years at school and I spend many years not reacting to those bullies...just as you suggest.   Thing is though, I found that walking away and saying nothing just made me feel even worse.  It made me feel even smaller and impotent. 

These days, I have no such problem squaring up to a bully.   And let me tell you, I feel much stronger and better for it.   

If you want to walk away and say nothing, that's your perogative.   But that same approach makes me feel like the bullied teen I used to be.  Therefore, I stand up to bullies.    And just to be clear, I don't berate people who choose to ignore my "hello".   I save it strictly for those who verbally attack without provocation.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 7:36am

Of course, I was using an example of "bullies" as to mimic your example. But, it's not always a bully, as I said earlier.

You can stand up to bullies if you want and I suppose sometimes that is necessary.  Usually, I don't find it necessary to spout off to people unless I feel threatened or in danger. ... The point is .... really, you cannot judge another situation because you are not there. If age feels unsafe, for whatever reason, she feels unsafe. It is not up to the greeter to judge what is going on with age or anyone else.

Truthfully, I would think if someone needs to acknowledge a person who huffs and puffs because they cannot get through a door fast enough, I would think that person has self esteem issues or anger issues and probably needs to learn to let some things go.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 5:50pm

>>Truthfully, I would think if someone needs to acknowledge a person who huffs and puffs because they cannot get through a door fast enough, I would think that person has self esteem issues or anger issues and probably needs to learn to let some things go.<<

Sigh.  I'm working at being really clear, but apparently my messages are not clear enough.    I do not bother with someone who huffs and puffs.  A huffer and puffer is insignificant and not worthy of acknowledgement.  

I'm talking about letting my thoughts fly at someone who openly uses words to insult/attack me or mine, completely unprovoked, for being too slow due to reasons we cannot help.   

And for what it's worth, in many years of being in the community, this has happened maybe two or three times ever.   Most people are patient and friendly and a joy to be around. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 6:06pm

On the subject of standing up to bullies....and completly on topic with the OP's question....

I'm part of a residents action group which is fighting massive overdevelopment in our area.   When we have need to be active, we set up outside the local flea markets and talk to strangers about our cause.  And I may add, we're very successful.

Anyway, when I approach passers by, I'm used to being ignored.   I accept this because I realise that not everyone wants to stop and speak with us.   But a newby to our group was ignored early on and she muttered "rude b!tch" to the passerby.   The passerby turned around and called the newby on what she'd just said.   The newby crumpled and said "nothing" and to my knowledge has never said "rude b!tch" to any one else ignoring her.

Sometimes, standing up to people really CAN make a difference.   They can make a difference for people like the OP who cannot stand up for herself.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 7:38pm

But you haven't stood up for the "OP who [allegedly] cannot stand up for herself"!

The following is a paragraph by EL Schmookler, PhD from this link: http://amsterdam.park.org/Guests/Stream/trauma_manual.htm

* Sometimes people need to be left alone. We should never force help on people who have already been forced to do things by other people. We should help people only when they want help. Sometimes people are unready to face what has happened to them, or to experience their own feelings, or to talk about what has happened. It is always important to respect people's healing process. Each person needs to heal in her own way in her own time. Some need to feel, some need to remain numb. The best approach, when you are uncertain about what a person wants is to ask. It is always good to ask people's permission to talk about what happened, to talk about their feelings, or to help them in any way. It is almost always damaging to people to insist that you know what they need better than they do.

IOW several posters in this thread have replied in damaging ways to the OP. Some have insisted that she "needs help", or that she must be autistic, or that she is unreasonable, narcissistic, lacking in basic civility or rude and they have been insistent that they know better than she does.

Fortunately, several different posters have been supportive and helpful. Unfortunately, you have allied more with the damaging posts than with the helpful ones. Fortunately, the OP is stronger than you give her credit for, as evidenced by her insightful responses to ignorant remarks.

Unfortunately, he missed the haystack,... oops, momentary lapse of reason.

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