Do you know what I am absolutely sick of seeing online? Replies that say ‘just ignore it’.
Replies to someone who has a problem that feels really big to them.Replies to someone who has turned to the internet with their problem. Replies to someone who is asking for help.
And, do not get me wrong, I know that this is certainly not a phrase that began on or is only used on the internet. It has been around for much longer than that. But I feel like there is a slight difference between it being used by a family member/friend who actually knows you, and you being bombarded with it on the internet from a few random strangers.
For example, I had a situation that I was really really really upset about earlier this year. I tweeted a few things about it (but didn’t go into massive detail) simply just to air my frustration and concern. I was not asking for pity or advice, sometimes I just like to use twitter like a little, ambiguous diary just for myself and genuinely forget anyone else can read it.
So how did I feel when random strangers took it upon themselves to tell me to ‘just ignore it’? Well, I felt invalidated.
I knew deep down that these people did not do this on purpose to hurt or upset me, they were actually saying it out of kindness because my issue seemed small to them. But to me, my issue was very big, and it was something that I was going to have to overcome rather than ignore.
See, telling someone to ignore something makes it seem like you do not think that their problem is a big deal. And that’s kinda mean. It’s completely impossible to know how a person is going to react and feel about a situation, and chances are that if they are tweeting/posting about it, then it is affecting them quite a lot.
I think this kind of attitude, in general, is problematic. Growing up, when I had an issue with someone or thought I was being treated unfairly and asked the adults around me for advice, I was often told to ‘just ignore it’ or that the person was ‘just jealous’. I feel like every girl in the UK can relate to those phrases, because it’s the kinda phrase that adults used in an attempt to make us feel better.
But those phrases do not actually solve anything. They do not even actually mean anything. What is ignoring it going to achieve? Answer: absolutely nothing.
To an extent, I understand that sometimes small issues do not need to be blown up out of proportion, and I think that this is what that phrase is getting at. But, equally, if you are justifiably upset or concerned about a situation, I do not think that you should be expected to ignore it.
As a person, I absolutely hate confrontation. It fills me with a dread like non-other, and it makes me shiver to my core. I genuinely hate it. So pair this dread with being told to ignore it and what happens? I do not get anywhere.
This is something that I am coming to realise. The combination of these two is meaning that I am not actually facing up to my problems, and am instead just letting them go. But this does not bring me peace of mind in the slightest, instead it makes me more anxious because ignoring the situation momentarily does not stop me thinking about the alternatives for months to come.
And who does that longitudinal grudge help?
Absolutely no one. And certainly not myself.
I feel like, as we progress as a society, we try to speed up everything. I have talked about this quite a lot on my blog before, but I feel like modern life in general just gets quicker and quicker. And, part of that speed manifests itself in sayings like ‘just ignore it’, because ignoring a problem is literally the quickest possible way to ‘solve’ it (and by ‘solve’ I mean stop talking about it, not actually solving it). But we are human beings with more complexity than that. We are not efficient robots, and should not be expected to be.
I like to live by the 5 by 5 rule. This is, if it won’t affect your life in 5 years time, do not spend longer than 5 minutes thinking about it. Although at first I thought this was another of those modern ‘just ignore it’ phrases, I actually realised that what this does is give you 4 minutes and 59 seconds of dwelling first. So, if you are upset about something that won’t affect you at all in 5 years time, you still have 4 minutes and 59 seconds to think about it. And you can use that (brief) amount of time to dwell and consider and weigh up and decide, and then if by minute 5 you have decided that you probably wont care in 5 years, you can simply let this feeling go.
Some people call the phrase ‘just ignore it’ a sign of maturity. As though a life without confrontation is a mature, peaceful one. But I think that really, truly knowing yourself and taking 4 minutes and 59 seconds out to decide whether you need to rise to something or whether it will not matter to you in 5 years time is a much more mature way to go. It’s the way that gives validation to your feelings, and does not just suppress them, but that also moves your life along if the problem does not really need to be dealt with.
So, please, do not ever ‘just ignore’ a problem. Take your 4 minutes and 59 seconds to decide if it is worth worrying/being upset about, and if not then move on, and if so then confront it. Please do not feel like your problem is invalidated just because someone else tells you to ignore it.