Monday, May 28, 2007

Etiquette, Assumptions, and Essentials

Hi all:

My present problem is this: I met someone on the internet who is part of an indie band. After going to his site, I liked his CD and asked if I could review it. He sent me the CD. I did an interview with him and got it posted on the internet. I figure he gave me the CD to listen to and to review it. So I accomplished my part of the bargain.

Then, because
1) we had developed a kind of friendly acquaintance and
2) because I had seen his work and
3) because he spoke of faith (Hinduism) and living by faith

I figured I'd send him to look at some of my writings around the web, including this site:
I also sent him to my angel story
angel story


And (SPOILER: TORTURE ALERT IN THIS FIRST CHAPTER) a link to the excerpted first chapter of my

soon-to-be-published novel Wind Follower

Interestingly, he did not answer my email. Not even a polite, "so that's what you write?" about my own creative efforts.

Okay, I feel that when someone doesn't say anything about one's work, it's because they are trying to be polite because they hate one's writings.

Now, I'll grant that we really had no bargain about him looking at MY work. I really am upset about this. I find myself saying "don't cross the line with anyone you're going to review." There is one zone...the public zone...and there is the social zone. He was someone I was doing a social thing for. He doesn't owe me to look at my writing. But I feel that etiquette demands that he at least should give a corresponding look at something I (another creative type) asked him to look at.


Interestingly, sometimes people of other faiths can talk about themselves living by faith but as soon as a Christian talks about living by faith or sends them to a site about their own faith experiences, the person assumes the Christian is trying to passive-aggressively save them.

I asked a cyber acquaintance and she said I was being hubristic to expect him to reply to me. Because I had sent him to my site and he hadn't asked to see any of my writing.

"expecting a response is hubristic" ??? That seems kind of harsh. I'd say I'm weak, or overly-friendly, or needy but not hubristic. An artist's desire to see another artists's response to her art is not hubristic. It's what we artist types live for. Plus it's the nature of human beings to start conversations with people expecting a response. And it's the nature of kind folks to give of themselves. Artists and needy types live to share. Yes, I wanted to share my writings...and what is bad about that?

In addition, the person who said I was hubristic also hinted that I might have been trying to "save" the guy and maybe he was offended because Christians are always trying to save people and non-Christians find that all so old hat after a while.

(Incidentally, non-Christians being easily offended by Christians is just as old as Christians trying to convert non-christians. )


Did I get offended when this person talked about his hindu spirituality? Did I even assume this person was trying to save me when he was talking about his worldview? No, I assumed the best of him. And even if he was trying to convert me, I took it well.


We humans live by assumptions. Much of life is lived by assumptions. The assumption of reciprocity for instance.

I think what I've learned in this situation is this:

A) some people like receiving but don't like responding in kind. They don't believe that one good turn (even a voluntary one) deserves another.
B) that I myself -- like many American women-- tend to assume that others will be kind or even polite.
C) that although I gave him the benefit of the doubt about possibly trying to convert me, that he didn't give me the benefit of the doubt.
D) that a simple act of friendship in sharing one's work with a fellow artist can be seen as insulting even though the fellow artist shared his work...and all art is about sharing. BECAUSE although you asked to see the artist's work, the artist didn't ask to see one's work. And BECAUSE you are a Christian and the other artist is not, although the other artist talked about his spirituality.
E) online relationships are interesting, especially online relationships between artists.

After my mother died i got some money from insurance. I gave 1500 to my cousin, 1000 to my friend and 1499 to my minister. I've since learned that they are not to be trusted. A hard lesson, but it made me realize that when millions start pouring in...I'll be careful about who i'm generous with.

This is a lesson i needed to learn. I just have to wipe away the shame and hurt i feel because i asked someone to look at my work. I mean...why should I be the one who feels shame for sharing my heart when the other person shared all his heart in his emails? The pain i feel in my heart is like the rejection one feels when one has had a story rejected. Very painful, very shameful. As if I am not only untalented, but psychologically sick and culturally "wrong" to ask someone to look at my writing.

We all want to be liked and I suspect there are boundary issues that wounded folks are likely to cross all the time. I think I'm learning how to be a little colder in life.

So, should I be so upset and get all cynical about human nature? Should I stop giving? Am I right to feel hurt? Although I gave without any desire to be reciprocated, it hadn't occurred to me that simply sharing my view of spiritual matters with someone (who had shared with me) and my own creativity (with someone who had shared with me) to be a kind of assumed reciprocation?

Do I have a right to be upset? Isn't it really my own assumption about etiquette that is getting my panties all in a bunch? This isn't heaven after all where we all live to give and live to share. It's just all very upsetting. Yes, yes, I know...we women are always mixing up things and taking things personally when to other folks it's "business." As they say, no matter when the houseseller or the realtor says, no matter what the cops say, don't assume it's personal -- even if they act like they're your pal-- it's all business.
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