Why Live Anonymously?

I hate it when someone flips me off. I can't flip back because that's not the kind of person I am, so I'm forced to do something totally lame like smile and wave. I'd love the emotional release of flipping them off back or ramming into their car with mine, but instead I just feel my blood pressure rise proportionately with my frustration at having no good comeback.

That's how I feel when someone sends a mean-spirited anonymous letter. I've had a few of those. I received one when I was a Primary President informing me that the irreverent behavior of the primary children in Sacrament Meeting was a direct reflection on me and that if I were teaching them reverence in Primary, Sacrament Meeting would be much more spiritual. The letter pointed out that there were way too many children getting up to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water during Sacrament Meeting. I hadn't realized that it was my job to patrol the pews telling children to stay put. I was selfishly fixated on keeping my own children quiet and in their seats.

I received another one when I was Young Women's president. This one let me know that the issue of modesty that a few of our girls were struggling with wouldn't be happening if I were doing my job right. Whoever wrote it must not have been there when I taught about modesty, read and re-read the entire For The Strength of Youth booklet and had a standards night devoted entirely to modesty. Of course the girls' parents had nothing to do with the problem.

Many years ago, I sat at swimming lessons with a young mother from my ward. Our children had been in lessons for a few days before she was able to come sit with me during the class. She'd spent the first few days forcing her crying, screaming child into the water. Every day I felt bad for her. She looked tired, sweaty, and embarrassed as she struggled with him. She usually ended up soaked as she knelt at the side of the pool. On the fourth or fifth day, we sat watching our children. Her son had finally entered the water without a raging freak-out. She looked around at the other mothers and said, "I wonder who sent me the letter."

I asked what she meant and she pulled out one of the meanest, most hateful letters I'd ever seen. It told her she was a terrible mother and should wait until her child is ready for swimming lessons before forcing him into the water. It even called her abusive. I was stunned. She started to cry and then told me how her son had nearly drowned a few months earlier and how she'd been afraid to start swimming lessons so soon, but that the doctor told her it was critical or the little boy would spend his life with a crippling fear of the water. She was following doctor's orders but some meddling busybody had terribly misjudged her.

What is so wrong with sending an anonymous letter (or comment)? Absolutely nothing if it builds up and brings happiness to the recipient.

But if it's mean or judgmental, keep it to yourself. If you don't have the courage to say what you want to say, you probably shouldn't be saying it all. You're probably just a mean and petty person.

How is an anonymous letter like being flipped off? You can't respond to it. You can't explain the circumstances. You feel helpless and disliked and judged. And if you're like me, they just give you high blood pressure.


Tawnie said...

wow. Why on earth are you facing this issue over and over? That is so interesting. I HATE anonymous mean people. I think it is totally COWARDLY. If you know you are RIGHT on an issue, you won't feel ashamed to let yourself be known. So so weird.
I'm sorry you had those experiences. I didn't know that. Amazing where the blame is placed, isn't it!

missy said...

I'm with Tawnie. That is so cowardly! I had to read this twice because I just kept thinking, "Seriously?" I mean, what makes someone actually write AND SEND a letter like that? Is it jealousy? Is it complete disgust with their own faults that it makes them feel better to point out the perceived faults of others? Wow. That is so sad.

Leslie said...

over the last few years, i have received several 'anonymous' comments from someone or someone(s) who have been less than kind. telling me what i am doing wrong in my grieving process and even once what i was doing wrong as a mother. of course, it was 'anonymously'... and it makes my blood boil. i have never responded to them because i didn't want them to know that they affected me at all...

but what a blessing when some of my readers have come to my defense and jumped down their throats for me. :) those readers are great.

anyhow, it makes me upset that anyone would blame the church leader of a group for what their parents are lacking in discipline. what a joke.

and that poor lady at swim lessons. i say it often and i will say it again, none of us know what another person is going through or has gone through to bring them to the point in their life where you can either judge them kindly or judge them harshly...

we are not capable of seeing the whole picture, so we should choose the kind way.

love you.

p.s. when they flip you off, just flash a water gun at them and they will get nervous. (of course i am kidding)

Anonymous said...

I found a beautiful quote from our beloved Gordon B. Hinckley. Replace man with woman/his with her. "Happy is the man (woman) who can brush aside offending remarks of another and go on his (her) way." Really, who do you think is happier, the person who can do this and go on or the person who goes around being rude and hurtful to others. I, too, have had others ruin my day with their rude and thoughtless remarks. I just pray I am never guilty of ruining someone elses day this way. Sad to say, but those people probably have a very unhappy life and we should all count our blessings. Have a good day. LMH (anonymous) ;)

Clover Autrey said...

That's just ridiculous to be a busybody like that. How about a little help instead of sending a hateful anonymous letter? Geez, some people.

Melissa said...

What nonsense! You shouldn't be responsible for children when they're with their parents. It's the parents' job to keep their kids reverent and seated in Sacrament meeting.

That's what parenting is all about ... teaching and enforcing your house rules at home and in public. If they can't do that, they shouldn't be parents!!