The other day I was walking through town, on my way home from yet another rough day in work. I was pretty tired, kinda grumpy and just generally not at my best. Fall Dog Bombs the Moon by David Bowie was playing on my ipod, and I was simply trying to let the world pass me by. And then a stranger walking towards me said something to me. I didn't hear him over the sound of the music, so went through the labourious process of getting my ipod out of my pocket, hitting the pause button and taking my headphones out, thinking all the while, if you've interrupted the Thin White Duke to ask me for sixty pence so you can get "home", home being a codeword for drugs and/or booze, then we're gonna have a problem. Turns out, it was worse.
"Pardon?" I said.
"Cheer up. It might never happen." came the response.
I paused, looked this person up and down before rolling my eyes, shaking my head and walking on. Why do complete and utter strangers, people who have absolutely no idea who you are, what you've done or what you're thinking, believe that they even have the right to speak to you, let alone tell you to cheer up? I just left it alone, but what I wanted to do was start shouting at this guy, to tell him "Never happen? Fuck you, never happen! It's already happened, you insufferable prick! I'm dealing with it, I'm doing okay, but I haven't had the best day. And you know what? You've just made it worse. Thanks." Well, actually, what I really wanted to do was set him on fire, an act which is a bit of a theme with me lately, so much so it's been labelled "the Paddy Prescription" by a close friend, but still.
I honestly don't understand the mentality of people who do this. Do they honestly think that by telling a random stranger "it might never happen" they're improving things? Imagine you're walking down the street and you see someone who looks a little bit grumpy or sad. Do you think "I've never met that person, have no idea what their problem is, but I'm going to get involved!" like a crazy person, or do you just walk on and leave them to it, like a normal person? Sure, if someone's in real distress, then I might see if there's anything I can do to help, but saying to someone who's that bad "it might never happen" isn't really going to cut it.
People are judgmental. It's a fact, and we can't help it. You see someone, or hear them say something, or read a comment, you form an opinion of them based upon it. It's only natural. But the people who feel the need to impose their judgments on others, those are the ones we should round up and shoot (this week. Next weeks shooting is for the people who talk at the cinema). Another recent example happened to me on my formspring account. For those unaware, formspring is a website where you set up an account, and people ask you questions. Any questions they like. Your answers are then published on formspring for all to see. You can even link it to your twitter and your facebook accounts so people can see the answers there as well.
I was asked a question by a friend on formspring which I thought was badly worded. I mentioned as such in my answer, simply as a way of pointing out that I wasn't sure I was actually answering the question which the questioner has intended. Someone else read this, a total stranger (albeit one who must follow me on either formspring or twitter), and decided to ask me "Are you always critical of others?"
I'm sorry, what? I point out that I thought a question was badly worded, and suddenly I’m always critical of others? As it happens, I am critical of others. They suck. Are you another? You suck. But I'm also pretty critical of me. And I generally keep my criticisms to myself, or if I do point them out, I do so without causing offense. And even then, that's only for friends. If I don't know you, the worst you'll get is a slight scowl as I walk by you and the street. From the wording of the question, I'm pretty sure the same person then asked me another question at a time when I was feeling pretty down, but had good reason to (see above). I'd been pretty angry and depressing on both twitter and facebook, and was asked a question which can only be the online equivalent of "it might never happen". It just annoyed me more that a total stranger was trying to worm their way into my life and thought they knew how to fix it without knowing what the problem was!
Some may say "then why be on a website where people can ask you anything?" In fact, one did after making similar judgments about my good friend, Nicki. Probably the same one, again judging from the phrasing, though tellingly, this person remains anonymous when asking questions. Nicki put together a well written and thought through answer. My own thoughts? I'm asking for questions, I'm not asking for judgements. Don't think you know me when you've never even met me.
If you don't know someone, then don't think for a second that you're allowed to speak to them about their problems. The next stranger to tell me it might never happen is getting the Paddy Prescription, and as they burn, I'll tell them "It might never happen to me, but it's sure as fuck happening to you now, eh?"