Not all…

So first, watch this, and then the followup video a ways down the stream. First, this dude has issues. I think that’s obvious, he has issues, and he’s not handling them well. Which in the US, is, sadly, unsurprising. As a country we suck at brain health. (note: while mental health is the preferred term, I have some issues with it because it implies mental health is some non-physical thing. It’s not. Mental health is brain health, and I think that if we start thinking about it that way more, we might stop with the idea that you can just “fix” brain health issues by “not feeling sad.”)

Set aside the massive amount of schadenfreude one feels when Angry Mite gets taken down (tip: you never know when the person you dare to attack you knows how to do it properly. That’s a proper takedown and control right there) and listen to this guy. He has clearly had some less-than-happy encounters on dating sites. Now, clearly, this is not just about his height. Even when he’s not raving in a bagel shop, I’m guessing he’s not the easiest person in the world to deal with.

Funny how all the “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best” memes seem so inappropriate here. Yeah, I hate those.

But I am also not going to dismiss the idea that he has been treated poorly for being short. Because people suck, and say things, even without intending to be mean that are. Lord knows I’ve done it, every one has. Intent only exists in our heads, everyone else is stuck with our words and actions. If said words and actions don’t match the intent, well, one’s intent stops mattering. What’s the saying? Intent is not magic. As well, online encounters can tend towards snark. I mean, there’s entire web sites devoted to “witty” shut downs of people on dating sites. Quite often, those guys deserve it. Quite often, the women deserve it too. People can, and regularly do, suck.

But it is also obvious that this guy is now in a state where as far as he’s concerned, it’s all women. They’re all treating him like crap because he’s short. Every look, every action that can be interpreted as bad towards him is. That’s not something you just wake up doing. He’s probably gotten a lot of that, to the point where he assumes it’s constant, even when it’s not.

This is where “not all…” comes in. Now, there’s basically two ways to use that concept, and they are directly opposed to each other. The first one is the one we see the most, because it’s the public version. “Not all…men/women/christians/cops/muslims/etc.” We see that one a lot, especially women. There’s a common variant: “A few bad apples…” It’s the same thing though: just because some members of a group do a bad thing, that doesn’t mean all members of a group do that bad thing.” Well, that’s both accurate and profoundly ignorant. It ignores the second part of the variant: “…spoil the barrel.”

It does not take 100% of a given member of a group doing bad things to make you sick and tired of that group. Look at the spate of “<blank> while black” videos over the last few years. Now, remember that for every one of those we see, there’s a lot we don’t. It would be a unique occurrence for something like that to be 100% documented. If you’re black, hispanic, a member of the many indigenous tribes in the US, or any person of color in this country, I’m going to go out on a limb, by which I mean I won’t leave my chair, and bet you’ve had something similar to what we see in the videos happen to you. Multiple times.

As a person, it does not take that happening a lot before you develop the (completely understandable) mindset that everyone in that group is just an asshole, or at least it is safer to treat them as assholes until proven otherwise. So when something like “how dare you be black and out where I can see you” happens, or the video of the woman showing just what it’s like to be her walking around the city, happens, and the first, or damned close to it response is some gorp going “Well, not all <whatever>…”, it’s infuriating right? Because it’s dismissive and self-centered. The person saying that does not care about what’s happening, they just want to make sure you know they’re blameless. That’s ultimately what it’s about. Guys saying “not all men” don’t give a fuck about all men. They want to make you acknowledge that it’s not them. Okay Skeezix, you’re awesome, it’s other men. Same thing with “not all white people” or “not all cops”, etc.

The people saying that don’t care about what’s happening, they just want to make sure you know it’s not them.

That’s the first version of “not all…”. It’s the external version, and the really crap one.

But there’s another version, and I think it might have helped this guy. It’s the internal version that focuses on blaming individuals, not groups. For example, in Jr. High and High School, the most consistently worst bullying I got was not from jocks, it was from nerds and women. (Please do not try to argue my life with me. You weren’t there.) The computer/D&D nerds and the popular girls were an endless source of torment for a rather formative part of my life. It’s why even now, I laugh at the idea that nerds/geeks are welcoming and open to all kinds of people. The personal and external data on this shows it to be fiction. People are factional regardless of group. Being an outcast does not remove the ability to turn other people into outcasts.

But, what I learned, helped unintentionally by my dad, (tl;dr, he felt racism et al was a sign you had too much free time, and that blaming all for the actions of one was kind of stupid) was to use “not all…” to remind myself that just because this person or those people are being shitty to me, not everyone in that group is crap. That I need to allow for non-awful behavior and be open to it. To not assume that every one in a given group is awful by default.

This is not easy to do. Some groups, y’all do not make it easy on folks. And when you have crap treatment be so constant that it feels like the norm, you’re going to fail at it. That’s understandable, but I would ask that you keep trying. Because honestly, it can help. It can help you not turn into that guy in the video. Note that I am not saying ignore all slights. Not even…slightly. If someone is awful to you and does nothing to earn forgiveness, there’s nothing wrong with cutting that person out of your life to the extent possible and never dealing with them again, whether it be purely on social media or solely in “real” life, or a mix.

You are not required to martyr yourself to a warped version of forgiveness to be a good person.

But, when someone who is part of a group is a shitty person, or even a lot of someones…remember that there are probably people who are part of that group who have no idea who these other people are, and who may only be a part of that group incidentally or accidentally, and…I’m not saying set aside your experiences, that is unreasonable and possibly dangerous. But allow for someone to not be awful. Be at least a little open to that possibility. That’s the point of the internal “not all…” in the end. To help you not be more miserable than necessary.

(Also, before the pedants arrive: This does not apply to all groups. Someone is a fucking Nazi or in the Klan? Yeah, then it is ALL of them. They ALL suck, and should be treated that way. But really, what’s the point of trying to bring up extremes as the norm? If that’s all you want to do, maybe I’m not the guy you should interact with.)