Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Discourteous Hippies and The Four Agreements

This past Sunday, I hosted an event as part of a group in Akron called Akron Cooking Coalition. The group has been around for a while and the purpose of the group is to educate people about being veggie or vegan. One of the ways the group educates people is by hosting potlucks at the homes of members of the group, sometimes with a theme, to encourage everyone to come eat delicious veggie and vegan food. I've been participating for a few years and try to host one potluck a year. Prior to the move to our current home, I didn't feel I had the space to host more often than once a year. Also, I just don't have the energy to open my home to strangers more than once a year. It's a big undertaking for me.

Last year, I hosted a vegan chili cook off. Because I'm not a vegan, I wasn't always inspired to cook for the potlucks. I came across a chili recipe three or four years ago and started taking it with me to the potlucks. It was super easy and also delicious and if there were leftovers, I had no issues eating them. Because of this, I thought it would be fun to host a vegan chili cook off. Last year, it was pretty successful. My previous attempts at hosting a potluck generally saw only a handful of people...none of the attendees were administrators of the group. I always felt like I hadn't gained enough popularity for anyone to really care about coming to my one event, so I usually had friends and a few newcomers and one or two friends within the group. But the chili cook off was hosted with a ton of success, and I thought maybe my years of participating in the event had finally gained the notice of the central clique of the group.

This year, I decided to host again. About two weeks ago, I created the event on Facebook and began promoting through the group. Since there hadn't been a potluck since April, I felt it was high time the group started getting together again. Prior to my event, the group's posts were really just advertising for one of the administrator's personal business and political ideals. The group had started to fall apart, and I was hoping that my event might spur renewed participation from various members. As I promoted the event, all seemed to be going well. I had 28 confirmed attendees on Facebook as well as a handful of confirmed attendees via Instagram and text. I was pretty excited and figured I'd end up with 10-12 visitors. I was hoping the administrators would show so we could talk about what was going on with the group.

On Sunday, I had a morning shift at a food show in Cleveland, where I ran into one of the administrators. His business was represented at the show. He was the one who had been regularly posting to the group, via scheduled posts, all about his business and his politics. He informed me he wouldn't be coming because he had scheduled to work. He asked me to take the group over because he knew it needed more activity. I found his comments disheartening and disingenuous. Here was one of the administrators, admitting that he wasn't going to participate in any way.

I went home, cooked for several hours, set up my house and waited. The start time for my event was 5p. I knew it was a little early, but it was important for me to have an early start time because I didn't want my house open into the wee hours of the morning. I had hoped an early start time would let people know that I also wanted a fairly early end time. I didn't explicitly write this in the event details, though maybe I should have. I waited and waited and waited until 7p when not one person had shown up. No one had contacted me to let me know they were coming late. The wall for the event was empty. So, I cleaned up, cancelled the event, and closed my house down. I also wrote a note in the group letting everyone know that the one administrator had asked me to take over and that they were all assholes. I told them to fuck off.

At 8p and then again at 8:45p, one person showed up. I sent them home. I explained that no one else had bothered coming and I was not entertaining any more guests. (Neither of these people had confirmed attendance and they were both surprised at the lack of attendance.)

The next day, I went back to the group to see that my "fuck off" post had over a thousand views and over 50 comments. I received one message that was somewhat apologetic, telling me it was a misunderstanding and they cared about me...from someone I don't know at all. I received another message thanking me for the posting because it was clear that the group had been very rude. The remaining comments were all along the lines of excusing their own poor behavior by asserting that the group was always loose and casual and never did have a start time and people not showing up for hours after the posted start time was normal. And of course, one person making fun of me, saying the early bird start time was clearly for senior citizens. And there was one particularly memorable comment. It contained the Four Agreements:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Obviously, this was posted to make me feel as if I wasn't living up to these Agreements...which are absolute bullshit. Seriously, "What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. What a convenient way to explain away all war, all rape, all violence, and all abuse. Let's be entirely neglectful of everyone else because we are now immune to their bad behavior which is really just a projection of their own reality.

You have got to be kidding me!

What happened within this group was entirely disrespectful and uncalled for. There is no apology for collectively ignoring a published timeline. Back peddling with excuses about how the event is meant to be casual is another way to excuse a self-centered mindset. Shaming me for telling the group to fuck off is simply trying to use my choice of language to turn the tables on me.

I'm not standing for it. I'm burning the group down. I already removed all the administrators on Sunday and I spent last night deleting all the posts and pictures associated with the group. Since they only seem to care when someone has noticed how shitty and ill-behaved they are, they can suffer the consequences of their combined disrespect.

Maybe this isn't a lesson in anything more than the fragility of social media and being quick to promote someone to administrator might end up with unwanted consequences. But I hope this is also a lesson in being respectful to everyone. Facebook events have a wall where anyone who has confirmed attendance can also give a heads up about arrival time. If even 5 of the people who had confirmed attendance had bothered to tell me they were showing up hours after the start time, I might've been less hurt and angry. Instead, everyone in the group acted selfishly and decided to ignore common courtesy in lieu of whatever the hell they wanted to do. That's not ok.

Seriously, we're all better than this. Being too busy or falling ill or deciding you don't want to come after you've confirmed attendance or running on your own clock...none of it is ok. What is ok is saying you'll do something and then doing it. If you can't do it, then letting those involved know what's going on. That is how you behave and treat other humans. If you're not doing that, then just fuck off...because you're a self-involved asshole.

***note*** Sunday evening, they created another group that already has 100 members and is going strong as if nothing ever happened. The wall is full of sentimental crap about how happy the group makes them feel and how bonded they are. So you know, people do what they want and nothing matters.


  1. You're right, what happened was definitely not okay. 28 confirmed, only two showed up and they arrived over two hours late? I feel like people just don't give a shit anymore when it comes to invites. Cupcakes and Cashmere even addressed this (http://cupcakesandcashmere.com/series-stories/ask-emily-etiquette-questions) and suggested that mailed invitations are taken more seriously, but then again, if it's for an organization such as this with tons of people, it's hard to get all those addresses. I really don't think there's any excuse, though. People need to RSVP, and if anything changes, they need to let the host know.

    1. What do you think of The Four Agreements? Have you ever heard of them before? I think they are a really convenient way to be completely unsupportive of anyone, ever. if I were asking a friend for advice and s/he suggested I don't take anything personally, I'd want to kick that friend in the teeth!

  2. That's a bit ridiculous. I've never heard of these "Four Agreements" before, and I'm not entirely sure what to think. I think they're good, but I don't see how they apply in this situation...where people thought it was okay to show up THAT late. That's simply rude and inconsiderate.

    1. I think that if you take them to the extreme, it means, "Don't ever think about anything anyone else does ever because it's about THEIR reality and has nothing to do with anyone else." But also means, "Therefore, don't worry about how you treat others because everything is a perception of your own reality." But they shouldn't be taken so literally and they're not about ignoring everyone else and absolving yourself of all responsibility.

      But I agree, nothing about this situation was anything other than rude! Thanks for your support!


  3. Those ppl were entirely disrespectful to you. You went to all that trouble for them, and they did not even show, did not even contact you. Good for you in telling them off, big time. I sympathise.

    Those "Four Agreements"...Well...what total psycho-babble!! "don't take anything personally...what BS. I had cancer and a "friend" told me that she read that a "prestigious European researcher wrote that "eating excr***nt" cures cancer!!!! She was seriousl She argued with me ...I decided to take what she said personally...and I weeded my friendship garden. She's history to me now. She "personally" wanted to hurt me, so I did take it "personally"...otherwise I'd have been a chump, and idiot to keep HER as a friend.

    1. Exactly! That's a good way to put it, "weeding" out of the friendship garden. I love that!

  4. This Four Agreements is psycho-babble. Oh yeah, it sounds so "look at me.I know EVERYTHING. I am so uppity" type of message! But it's really nonsense.
    It says "Don't Take Anything Personally" So if someone spread a huge lie about me at work , or if someone insults me in front of a group....believe me, I WILL defend myself and my position. If I don't defend myself, I would be an easy mark for MORE insults. A soft target, an easy mark.

    I see ppl at work who walk away from an insult or a personal slight, and the ppl who insult them just laugh and ...guess what ...do it again to them.

    I also noticed that the ppl who stand up to bullies who diss them and insult them, look stronger and the bullies are not so likely to insult them again. Then the bullies look for a softer target.

    We are hard wired to defend and protect ourselves, and that means showing strength and standing up to bullies, verbal bullies and insults and so on. If we don't show strength, we will continue to be bullied, hurt , victims etc.

    Hey someone tells you in front of a group that you are stupid, you have bad judgement, you are no good....What ! Why should we do what the 4 agreements say "Oh, Don't take it personally,,it's just a reflection of them." Reflection or not, you have to stand up for yourself, and you have to defend yourself against this attack, and against any future attacks.

    We feel anger for a reason. It's part of our self preservation makeup. We need to use it wisely, NOT by lying down and saying
    "oh its alright I don't take it personally". No way. If they can dish it out, they will have to learn to take it.

    For every action in the universe, there is a reaction of equal or greater force. If you don't fight back, you will eventually be destroyed (ie your self esteem , your happiness, your strength etc.

    Stand up , speak up and fight back. Defend yourself, even if it is only verbally. Be strong, and show strength. That's how this world works. Not this psycho-babble 4 agreements.