it's not me, it's you.

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

I was mindlessly scrolling through Twitter one night this week, and came across a tweet from a fierce female CEO I follow: Sally Bergesen, founder of women’s running apparel maker Oiselle (I’m a huge fan!). 

Sally was musing about why a lot of people run with their phones, and threw in her own opinion.

What happened next was a Twitter storm. A lot of people simply shared the reasons they choose to run with phones - to take pictures, listen to music/podcasts/audiobooks, use or be reachable in an emergency. 

But a small handful of women read something into the tweet and felt the need to go on the offensive. Like these (the super curious can read more here)...

To be honest, the tweet landed on me in an odd way. My initial reaction was self reflective. I make no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I believe (as Sally also noted in her follow-up Twitter thread) that technology is getting in the way of authentic connection with others. If you think about it, this very article is kind of proof of that, but I digress.

I immediately went to a reflective place...

Hmmm, what would it look like if I went on a run without my phone? When have I ever relied on my phone for safety when out on a run? Does this mean I’m too tech dependent? 

But as I scrolled through the other replies, I was surprised by other reactions. Because it didn’t even occur to me that I was being judged in any way by Sally’s tweet (Hello? She doesn’t even know me!), I was completely curious about these responses from people who took offense.

And so I consulted a friend (cuz that’s what we do, right?)...What did she think about the tweet? And she said, well, it did seem a little “judgy,” but she personally wasn’t offended. 

But then I told my friend this tweet was from the CEO and designer of a premium line of women’s running apparel, and that it’s literally her job to ask questions about women’s running habits.

That changed everything for my friend. But it was a piece of information that Sally’s followers already had, and they still interpreted the tweet to mean they were being judged.

Does this story sound familiar at all? You don’t have to spend much time in social media to see it pop up multiple times a day.

So what’s really going on there, when we choose to interpret something that someone else does to mean something negative about us? 

Because it feels good in the moment. Maybe even like a release. But then, the moment passes, and we find ourselves stalled. Drained. Wondering what happened to the last 45 minutes we can’t account for.

And for what? Something we saw someone else do that we interpreted in a way that was hurtful to us? Interesting. So let’s dig into that...

This has nothing to do with me.

If you really think about it, strip away all the layers and bullshit, wouldn’t you agree that you’re not the center of the universe? So why do we so easily jump to the conclusion that something another person says or does has anything to do with us? 

Here we had a total stranger pose a question with an attendant opinion, and a few people made the interpretation that it was about them. And not only that it was about them, but that it meant they were being judged.

But that tweet had nothing to do with them. Maybe Sally did actually judge people who run with their phones. Maybe she believes that your experience is much richer without the aid of technology. Or, maybe she truly was just curious. Or, maybe she intentionally used language that would stir up emotions so people would chime in with their opinions. After all, she later stated that her objective was to inform her designs.