Why would a person rather have an enemy than a conversation?

In another example from other people’s lives, sometimes angry, supremacist, or traumatized people send emails commanding, “Do not contact me.” I want to state here, for the record, that no one is obligated to obey a unidirectional order that has not been discussed. Negotiation is a human responsibility. Little children order their parents around: “Mommy, sit there!” When adults give orders while hiding behind technology, they are behaving illegitimately. These unilateral orders do not have to be obeyed. They need to be discussed. Two people in a situation means two experiences, two points of view, two sources of information, two voices. And talking through conflict saves time, because having email/text-produced enmity with someone with whom one’s life could be enriched, wastes years if not lifetimes. So sending a person an email that says, “I don’t want to talk to you” and then refusing to discuss the problem at hand, or even to interact at all, resolves nothing. In fact, it creates anxieties, fears, antagonisms, and pain that can be long-lasting.

The performative conceit at the root of this kind of assaultive action is the melodrama that email orders are a “last resort” in response to some horrible transgression. But the opposite is more likely true. Often a real conversation would illuminate nuances and correct misunderstandings. The real question is: Why would a person rather have an enemy than a conversation? Why would they rather see themselves as harassed and transgressed instead of have a conversation that could reveal them as an equal participant in creating conflict? There should be a relief in discovering that one is not being persecuted, but actually, in the way we have misconstrued these responsibilities, sadly the relief is in confirming that one has been “victimized.” It comes with the relieving abdication of responsibility. There is something in the person who hides behind email that wants these offenses to be true. They want to feel victimized. Then they don’t have to look at themselves critically or think about the other person with complexity. There is no guilt or responsibility if one is an email victim.

Excerpt From: Sarah Schulman. “Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair.”

"Why would a person rather have an enem…