Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

Recently, someone who I thought was a friend done me wrong (there is a country theme to this post and I’m trying to sound authentic)… talked about me behind my back, tried to turn people against me, and gave me no chance to speak the truth or defend myself. Full on high-school level meanness. (UPDATE: This is not a very good friend. More like someone I am friendly with and thought there was a mutual respect. If you know me and wonder if this is you, believe me, it is not.) Now, at my age, I don’t deal with this very often anymore. Sure, in high school and in my twenties, I was surrounded by meanness. People are growing up, figuring out who they are, and battling it out for one of the coveted spots atop the social ladder. When you get older, you know who you are. If not, you at least know your values. And there is no more social ladder. People are people. You want to be friends with those who share your values, and you just don’t pay attention to the rest. The competition has died down. But every now and then, one of these “I never grew up” types comes along and is just plain mean. They have some idea of social order in their head that no one else sees. They think in order to win someone else has to lose. They are mean. And I have trouble making sense of that.

If you haven’t listened to Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” off her latest album, take a listen. She’s good, that Taylor.

Taylor Swift, “Mean”

You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me,
You, have knocked me off my feet again,
Got me feeling like a nothing.
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard
Calling me out when I’m wounded.
You, pickin’ on the weaker man.

Well you can take me down,
With just one single blow.
But you don’t know, what you don’t know,

Someday, I’ll be living in a big old city,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Someday, I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Why you gotta be so mean?

You, with your switching sides,
And your wildfire lies and your humiliation
You have pointed out my flaws again,
As if I don’t already see them.

I walk with my head down,
Trying to block you out cause I’ll never impress you
I just wanna feel okay again.

I bet you got pushed around,
Somebody made you cold,
But the cycle ends right now, cause
You can’t lead me down that road,

You don’t know, what you don’t know

Someday, I’ll be living in a big old city,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Someday, I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Why you gotta be so mean?

And I can see you years from now in a bar,
Talking over a football game,
With that same big loud opinion but,
Nobody’s listening,

Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things,
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can’t sing.

But all you are is mean,
All you are is mean.
And a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life,

And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

I’m not going to share any detail about what happened. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what I do about it, how I let it impact me. My credo has been for many years You cannot change other people. You can only change the impact you allow them to have on you. This person is mean and will continue to be mean. I can’t do anything about that. All I can do is make decisions about how I will react. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • I will not discuss the situation with them or anyone else.
  • I will not talk negatively about them to anyone else.
  • I will continue to be courteous and friendly when I see them.
  • I will not let someone else establish my character.
  • I will prove them wrong with my actions.

What do you think? Got any suggestions for me? How do you handle mean people?

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13 Responses to Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

  1. There is someone I know who I’ve been in a very similar situation with. I’m 25 but I still feel like you – people are people, you’re friends with those who share your values, and you don’t pay attention to the rest. But some people are determined to force a different set of ideas! The best way for me to deal with it has been to carry on enjoying my own life and ignore the negativity she has tried to insert. I encourage you to do the same! It can be hard to not let things get to you but it really is a waste of good energy.

  2. Oh my goodness – I can so relate. I’m 32, and puh-leeze, high school was a loooong time ago. Yet, some people just can’t grow up. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s the high road, all the way for me. I stick up for myself, but I won’t stoop to that level. I have had situations where I have cut 2 “best friends” out of my life, b/c I couldn’t take it anymore. Drama, drama. I have also dealt with my partner’s friends treating me like this and trying to break us up. (Needless to say, they are not his friends anymore). It’s crazy. At 32, (or even at 27 when we got together and all of this started) I wouldn’t imagine that I would have to deal with this stuff anymore. There are crazy people out there! I posted about my experience with all of this back when I first started my blog. And those losers are STILL cyber-stalking me. Gah! I feel for you!

    ~

  3. Cindy says:

    OMG! Do I know the person? Was it me? You’re going to be courteous and polite so maybe I’ll never know who you are talking about?! We’ll be at a party, and I’ll be analyzing you: “Merf is looking at her a little funny! Was that a polite nod or an i-hate-you nod?”

    Point is, I think that many times, people do mean things and they don’t even realize it. Maybe your person realizes it. But maybe not. And if you don’t communicate to them that their actions or words bothered you, how with they know? And how will they learn? Then again, maybe they will never learn, or they will act like they don’t care. But I would want to know if someone was upset with me.

    BTW, with an almost 8-year-old in the house, we listen to a lot of Taylor Swift. Love her and the new album. So dang talented.

    • merf says:

      No, it’s no one you know. Your point is a good one. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything because it was all behind my back. To confront them would be to violate the trust of the person who confided in me. Puts me in an awkward spot.

    • Cherry Lane says:

      Cindy: I’m so glad you asked this – I would have been wondering the same thing! But I was afraid to ask.

      Merf: I have no advice. I find myself repaying meanness with meanness, even though I know it isn’t right.

      • merf says:

        Well I’m glad Cindy asked! No, you girls are my rock. The person I am talking about is truly a mean person, not one of my dearest friends.

        Repaying meanness with meanness… tempting. But it doesn’t make me feel good. And somehow, I feel like they win. Like they drag me down with them.

      • Cindy says:

        Oh, phew! I was racking my brain to think if I had heard anything about you lately. It sounds like you can’t say anything to the person, but we will all send “tsk tsk” thoughts behind HER back.

  4. I had a friend, now ex friend, do something very similar to me. She said hurtful things about me when we were out to dinner with someone who i recently started dating (not anymore luckily, that’s a diff. story). I confronted her and she apologized, but I realized I could never be friends with her again. I could never get over how hurt I was by the mean things she said to me & about me, which came out of thin air. Sometimes it’s better to cut people out of your life that are harmful to your well being. If it’s someone you can’t avoid then I would be courteous, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to prove them wrong. They are not worth your effort.

  5. I have suffered from that kind of meanness a lot when I was a child and adolescent. Nowadays, I don’t experience it so often anymore, fortunately. I’m very happy about that. I never want(ed) to become like that myself.

  6. Wow, so sorry that happened, but it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good handle on things! Sometimes the best reaction is no reaction. Let people wallow in their own misery because that’s usually what spurs that kind of behavior… unhappy people.

  7. Taylor Swift! Gotta love her.
    It’s a hard situation, and I think you have a great approach and are doing all you can!

  8. Cynthia says:

    I love that song by Taylor Swift!!

    I have been through that before as well and I just realize that their negativity is (often) coming out of the fact that their lives are so unhappy. Therefore, they want to make everyone else miserable. So I just act civil because if they ever realize that they got to me, they would be very pleased with themselves.

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