It’s Not You, It’s Me

…but it’s really You.

Ruth Roman in Bitter Victory (1957) #1

"Ruth Roman in Bitter Victory (1957) #1" by Classic_Movie_Gals is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

From There to Here

Warning!  Gratuitously and unusually UN-funny blog ahead!  Read at your own laughter’s peril!

Here goes…

Reconciliation is a long road.  It starts with an offense and ends with an apology, or, at the very least, a lame half-ass offer to buy someone a beer.  For this reason, I love being offended, because it means I will usually end up with an apology and a beer.

But that’s just the rub: we love being offended these days.  In this society, it’s become the de facto response of so many to experience that kneejerk response: to ride that offense train all the way to Kingdom Come and back.  It affords us the opportunity to play the victim, appealing for public sympathy with outraged Facebook complaint posts laden with ALL CAPS and lots of exclamation marks.

For me, I don’t need sympathy.  Just give me the alcohol.  Sorry…was that last part not clear?  Alcohol = forgiveness, always.  Fill me up with alcohol, and we will be BFF’s until Jesus returns.  I trust He’ll fill me in on which financial possessions I signed over to you in my drunken stupor.

On a personal note, I was recently offended.  What?!?  No, Josh, say it isn’t so!  Indeed, ‘tis the sad truth.  I was going about my merry way of encouragement and posting things meant to inspire, and someone took offense at what I posted.  THREE people, in fact!  It was a crowded room of the bleeding wounded.  And when I found out that they were offended – wait for it – I was offended.

It was a Glorious Offense-a-ganza, full of epic Grinch-like proportions, ladling out blobs of bitterness and irritation.  They hurled gravy-like frustration over me, and I spouted frothy venom-like frustration back, well-concealed in clever silver-tongued etiquette and passive-aggressive polish.  Sure, behind our forked tongues we meant well, but we really wanted to bite, because we were all offended.  Am I exaggerating a bit?  Sure.  But the truth is that we all chose to be offended, meaning no offense to them.

It truly is always a choice.  Events themselves are inherently neutral: we are the ones who choose what meaning to assign to them, and whether or not to be offended.  But lately, we choose to be so much more often than not.  How did we get from there to here?  How did we all become so easily offended?  Were our spines removed in our sleep?  Why do we as a civilization actively engage Presume and React mode instead of, as my wife encourages, “assume they’re for you”?  Why is someone’s entire tenure of good behavior, integrity and solid principles immediately thrown out and discredited through what we choose to be offended by?  One of the offended parties told me “I really believed better of you. MUCH.”

Were her words surprising?  Not really. Because, in the end, you can’t please everyone, nor should you try.  Ed Sheeran once said, “I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”

It’s not me…it’s you.  Actually, it’s not you…it’s me.  But really…it’s all of us.

At one point or another, we’re all going to assume the worst, and then we’ll:

  • get bent out of shape
  • be rubbed the wrong way
  • become hot under the collar
  • have our teeth set on edge
  • get worn down, incensed
  • get stuck in a paddy
  • see red
  • foam at the mouth
  • turn blue in the face
  • get hacked off, and
  • have something stuck in our craw at some point.

The point herein is, let’s take stock of why we’re choosing to be offended.

NYC - Greenwich Village: The Bitter End

"NYC - Greenwich Village: The Bitter End" by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

Santa’s Clause

I’m sure if Santa followed suit, he’d make us all sign contracts loaded with enough indemnity clauses to make Johnny Cochran choke.  He’d cover his velvet red fanny with clauses and protections to ensure that we couldn’t sue him for wrongful delivery, damage to property, breaking and entering, stalking, insider trading, trespassing, invasion of privacy, and any other offended claim we could make under this red and green tinsel sun.  Because that’s the way of it – we’re ready to sue at a moment’s notice.

Just look at some of the lawsuits that ascended the court chain from 2010 to 2020, riding the coattails of precedent all the way up to nine sitting justices who decided their fate.  Some might argue that some of these were needed for societal change; others sue because they’re opportunistic or emotional.  As XInsurance says, “Litigation can spring from your own mistakes, or the opportunism of a sue-happy society.”  There is sad psychology behind this.

Look.  2020 sucked, and offended nearly everyone on the planet.  Unless of course we’re talking about Mr. and Mrs. Mouth-Click-Whistle-Snap-Click-Click-Whistle-Glottal-Stop-Click and their children Glottal-Click-Whistle, Whistle-Click-Glottal and Click-Glottal-Click, who live on that remote island in the bush and are interested in killing you with spears.  Most everyone has been offended in one way or another by the coronavirus. Or murder hornets. Or Sean Connery dying. For us voice talent, it’s that persistent neighbor always running his leaf-blower.

We:

  • Hit send and then regret it
  • Put that letter in the mail and then anxiously bite our nails wondering when the mailman will come so that we can run out and wave our arms wildly and shout “Stop! Stop!” and hope we were in time to retract that letter
  • Fire off the angry talk, and once we see the expression of how it lands, backpedal with the ol’ “Wait- wait- I didn’t mean that.”
  • Post the angry note to our roommate for unwanted behavior, only to run and crumple it up as you hear them coming home up the stairs.

When did we forget to stop, take a deep breath, and just do it the Daniel Tiger way?

 

Give ‘em hell for me

Nelson Mandela, 'As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison

"Nelson Mandela, 'As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison" by symphony of love is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

Marc Broussard has an excellent song that just makes me smile.  It goes as follows:

Give em hell for me
Dry your stupid eyes, you big baby
Just give em hell for me
Don't you ever take it too seriously

We are so easily offended, we humans.  It’s like the ol’ SNL skit, “You Mock Me” with John Malkovich.  Go ahead, watch that now.  You’ll see what I mean.  Only now we do it with lawsuits instead of harsh rebukes.

Merry Christmas.  D’oh!  Sorry about that.  Happy Hanukkah.  Oh, my bad!  Happy Holidays.  Too innocuous you say?  My sincerest apologies!!!  Merry Christmahannakwanzikah.  After all, that’s what we’ve become: praying we won’t offend, walking on eggshells that we might; becoming so vanilla and innocuous to the point of neutrality and diluted inclusivity at all costs, until the potency of our original message is rinsed out.

As voiceover artists, fortunately, we usually get to present a message that is not our own words: we’re just the messenger, so don’t shoot us.  But in terms of community, we need to remember it’s OK to feel a certain way that might be politically incorrect.  We need to have our own ideas and perceptions heard, no matter how narrow-minded they might be.  After all, Jesus didn’t come to bring peace; He came “to bring a sword” (his own words).  We can choose to be offended at a script.  We can become jealous of another voice talent’s success.  We can misinterpret the message and kill the messenger.  We’re all messengers, us voice talent.  Let’s not kill each other.

It's a foregone conclusion that someone out there is going to be offended that this blog was not all sunshine and rainbows, gits and shiggles, as I usually strive for.  But for this new year, resolve to not be so easily offended.  Strengthen your spine.  Go out and be strong, no matter what happens around you.  Know yourself.  Give ‘em hell for me.  Dry your stupid eyes, you big baby.  Stand your ground.  Hold the fort.  Dig in that foxhole.  Realize your inherent strength and fortitude.  On the coattails of this “Season of Giving”, give others the benefit of the doubt.

Did I intentionally set out to write a depressing and overlong blog on the destructive power of bitterness?  Yes, because it feeds my soul when I get to be a Debbie Downer.  The truth is that in this world -  and after this year in particular - it’s sorely needed.  I’ve been battling COVID-19 all year with comedy and lightheartedness: that’s my calling. But I felt the need to end a serious year on a serious note and treat it soberly.

Buddha said “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  Ease-of-offense will kill us.  What I propose, going into this new year of a hopefully receding pandemic wave: let’s choose to believe in each other.  Drop the lawsuit-ready posture, eh?  Let’s assume that the other person is actually for us.  Let’s practice the golden rule and choose trust for once.  As voice talent, we voice these kinds of scripts all the time from companies putting their best foot forward and declaring their super-ethical behavior through self-promotion: "We're the brand you can trust."

20/20 was supposed to be the year of “vision”.  I pray we have clear vision for 2021.

In the end, I apologized to those who took offense at what I posted, removing it and instead posting a watered-down version.  But mostly I apologized because none of them drink beer.  I know.  I offered.

For those of you celebrating Christmas this week as we do, MERRY CHRISTMAS.  I hope this holiday you're reminded of Gifts that are Real, and that you're utterly blessed.

- Josh

A Gift for You

"A Gift for You" by Ron Guest is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

Whoops.  Definitely got someone's goat with that one.

 

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NOTE: This blog is purely for commentary / educational / entertainment purposes.  I make no money from these blogs; though I do not refuse large cash gifts if it means I can pretend I'm a church.

 

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Joshua Alexander
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23 thoughts on “It’s Not You, It’s Me”

  1. Such a good commentary on life today…Facebook has caused a massive pandemic of RKS (Restless Kneejerk Syndrome). I’m going to share this (if I can find someone under 20 to show me how—kids! Come help daddy with the internet again!

    1. RKS strikes again! There oughta be a pill for that, there really oughta. “Suffering from RKS? Don’t suffer in silence! Take one RKS-Gone a day and your problems will be OVER.” *insert customer testimonials of how well it worked here*

  2. Dear Mr. Wonderful!
    Was I mistaken, or did I see a post that
    you were taking a week off???!!!! Well, lucky us we got an end of the year blog which sounds as if your apologizing for an opinion …. really? others can’t accept a simple opinion. You of great and sensitive heart are generosity beyond the pale and a true gift ….
    As we move past 2020 with its pandemic, political upheaval, leaving a lot of us tense, on edge, ready to strike. – feeling out of control …. I hope and pray that it has taught us one thing…….

    LOVE. For ourselves, for one another ….. in this spirit – I send lots to you and your family –

    1. Yes, but you know how it is when you SAY you’ll take a week off, and it’s a staycation, and the office is *right freaking there…* Kinda hard to get away! Oh well. Thank you my friend! Merry Christmas!

  3. Love this post. To be honest I was offended for you last week. It makes me sad that so many spit out unkindness. But to spew it at you? The king of kindness? Just seemed, wrong on so many levels. I actually unfollowed someone else’s page that day. If that makes you feel any better 😉
    I don’t drink beer, but I do love the camaraderie and friendship that can follow after someone is humble and considerate of others, even when they weren’t really in the wrong.
    Bottom line? We Can disagree with respect, and that didn’t happen that day- kudos to you for being the bigger person.

  4. I love that Buddha quote.

    Somebody once told me “You can’t MAKE a person feel a certain way.” At some point we carry responsibility and accountability for our own feelings. Our due diligence as decent people is to at least hear and listen to each other… Finding the common ground is an entirely different endeavor.

    As always, I do love listening to what you have to say. And thanks for always listening to me too, friend. You’ve been a really great part of a really crazy year.

    Stay shiny

  5. This reminds me so much of Ratatouille.
    “…after reading a lot of overheated puffery about your new cook, you know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it! I’d like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective… Could you recommend a good wine with that? Fresh out I see.”

    I loved that movie! I think we could all do with some well-seasoned perspective! haha. So here it is, you don’t have to please everyone. No, if everyone just focused on pleasing me, there wouldn’t be any problems, LOL. Just kidding, hehe.

    I’m glad the issue was resolved and I sincerely hope 2021 is a better year for you!

    Thank you for another great post and it was awesome to meet you online this year! A very merry Christmas to you too!

      1. Hahaha, it is funny!

        Thank you very much!! We visited a little and had a great time. I got to sing something karaoke-style for the LORD privately. Next year, big show! 😉
        Here is a link to the song – it’s Afrikaans, but I’m sure you’ll love it’s cinematic arrangement anyway:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3vWV_G6k7o

        Hope you had a wonderful time too!!

        Have a splendid 2021!! May it break forth with only incredibleness!! 😀

  6. I offended someone on my blog a while back, and they were not backward in coming forward about how inept and amateur I was to write things they thought were crap.

    This was my indirect response:

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/sumarameersvoiceover_kindness-onlinecommunity-haveafabulousday-activity-6721658608817463296-HjI2

    Because WHY make a song and dance about it when you think someone else is wrong? There is just no helpful reason for it. Scroll on by and focus on your own business.

    Maybe it’s the crazy hippie in me, but I think kindness and peace are far more important than being right.

  7. I was so offended by reading this! How dare you write something not consistently humorous! How dare you entertain others perception of your kindness and encouragement as trivial! How dare you minimize others opinions of you!
    How dare I start so many sentences with Dare… without actually daring you to do anything!
    In the spirt of this blog, actually also the very topic of one of those critics podcasts, of things I can control… my respect and thankfulness to have you as a friend! And you have it in abundance!
    Merry Christmas Pal!

  8. Gits and shiggles… love that, and yes, I do live under a rock or in a walk-in closet much of the time. I’d never heard that particular spoonerism full of sugar before! And, like another commenter above, I’ve always loved that Buddha quote.

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