September 23rd, 2006

Postbox Fairy

(no subject)

[Usual disclaimer/reassurance applies: This is a general comment and not related to anything in particular that anyone has said to me recently]

There's something I've been pondering/observing for a few months, and that's the tendency for people to say things like "everyone sometimes feels x" or "no-one gets through that without doing y" or even "anyone who says they've never z is lying" when their intention is merely to reassure someone that x, y, or z is an acceptable/appropriate/understandable reaction to a given situation.

It bugs me partly just because I don't believe such generalisations can ever be true*, and more specifically because it makes me feel like it's denying the experience of those to whom it doesn't apply. I happen to be someone with good self-esteem, whose life to date has been perhaps unusually easy and contented; I recognise that this makes me very lucky, but I also resent encountering statements like those in the first paragraph when they imply that people like me don't exist.

But it also bugs me because of the implication that 'universal' (or at least 'very common') is equivalent to 'acceptable/appropriate/understandable'. Just because someone's reaction is atypical doesn't mean that it is a problem (and just because a reaction is common doesn't necessarily mean that it's not one).

*except in the most trivial of examples e.g. 'everyone sometimes feels a bit down'