Back in highschool I used to be a writer on Tumblr. I made a lot of cool friends that way – friends that I still talk to years later. I felt that those people had a deeper understanding of me than even the friends I went to school with every day. I was by no means popular, but that was okay because I didn’t want to be. Looking back, was a much lamer version of myself than I am right now. I would go home every day after school and immediately get on AIM to message people who lived far, far away. I would write with them, converse with them, we would talk about our lives and somehow even from a distance we would just get each other.
I had one friend in particular that I’m going to call Stephanie. She was my absolute best Tumblr friend and we would talk almost all the time Even though we never met in person we would text, Facebook message, and sometimes even fall asleep on the phone together and wake up the next morning with the other still on the line.
Stephanie had a particular dislike for a girl I’m going to call Aiden, another writer on Tumblr that she would constantly gripe about. ‘Fuckin Aiden did this’…. ‘Aiden did that’…. ‘ You wouldn’t believe what this other person said Aiden said about me’. Aiden, Aiden, Aiden. Because Stephanie was my friend and because I’d heard nothing but bad things about Aiden, I’d grown to hold a certain level of disdain for her, myself, even though I never met her.
One night I was writing with a person I had an on going plot with when they sent me an out of character message, asking if they could vent to me about a few things. Of course I was down for listening, so I gave the stranger my phone number and within moments I got a phone call from a girl in a different state. In all honesty I don’t remember what the actual venting was about, but I do remember that we started talking about plenty of other things after that, including plots that we had with other writers and friends we’d made through other writing groups. Of course I mentioned Stephanie, and after a brief pause the girl on the other end of the line said: “OH, I know her…. She doesn’t like me.”
“Wait….. Aiden?” “Hello, yes, that’s me.”
I’d just spent hours upon hours having a fantastic conversation with the very person that my best friend thought was actual Satan, and she almost had me convinced too.
As Fate would have it, it wasn’t long before Aiden and I became besties. We shared the same interests and liked the same style of music, the same bands, the same personalities on YouTube, and we would always introduce new interesting things to each other. We talked, we texted, we FaceTimed, and eventually we even met in person. We’d travel between states to go to concerts together. Even though my days of writing on Tumblr have long since passed and adult life has made keeping in touch more difficult, Aiden is still to this day one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I still talk to her about stupid things I get myself into and she’s always willing to be the Mom Friend. She tells me about the fuckboys that hurt her and I threaten to beat their asses.
But…what if? What if I’d let Stephanie’s low opinion of her influence my emotions that first night? What if when I found out who she was I immediately decided never to talk to her again? I would have missed out on so many awesome experiences, not to mention being friends with one of the smartest, most amazing and inspiring people I know.
I’m not saying that you’ll always love the people your friends choose to dislike. I’m saying that you don’t know a person until you know the person. And sometimes it’s not just the one friend. Sometimes entire groups of people decide to band together against this one person. Why? Because Jenna hath declared that Johnny is awful so now even people who haven’t met Johnny all agree that he’s a big racist asshole who thinks too highly of himself and have all vowed to never talk to him? Did Johnny say or do something to personally offend you? Did he take a big piss in your bowl of Fruit Loops?
Mob Mentality is all the rage and using your own knowledge and judgement to make decisions is becoming more and more rare with each passing year. Social media is worsening the issue but it is not new at all. I mean, take Joan of Arc for example. One day Pierre Cauchon looked at Joan and all of the things she was doing (which were great if you didn’t already know) and decided, “I don’t like her. She must be a witch.” And so the people who didn’t know Joan but knew Pierre went “Well if Pierre says she’s a witch then she’s gotta be. Let’s kill her.” After they killed her it literally took the Pope to hear of her story and go “what is wrong with you guys? She was no witch, she was a saint.” And now everyone sees her as the badass that was Joan of Arc.
I’m not saying that Jackass Johnny is Joan of Arc, but he’s still a person with a story. A human being who lives on this planet, breathes this air, and feels very strongly about certain things. Johnny could be awesome as shit, but you’ll never know until you sit down and talk to him. Or Johnny could actually be a big racist asshole who thinks he’s literally better than everyone else, in which case then he is confirmed to be Jackass Johnny. If that’s the case then you still don’t have to gather once a day for the Johnny’s A Jackass support group. That would be like repeatedly listening to a song you already know gives you headaches. Why would you do that?
You don’t have to like everyone. Actually, you’re guaranteed to meet people that you don’t like. But you should at least give them a chance. Who knows? You may meet your own Aiden.
“Share your smile with the world. It is a symbol of friendship and peace.”
Categories: Lessons on Life