A big challenge to safe relating is our current crisis of conflation. In our online conflicts and our interpersonal relationships we are suffering from a lack of distinction between words and concepts and it's causing harm.
We conflate fact with feeling.
We conflate fact with opinion, judgment, and assumption (this is a superiority stance).
We conflate truth with accusation.
We conflate believing survivors of abuse with believing all accusations of harm without question.
We conflate accountability (taking responsibility for oneself) with consequences and/or punishment. See my 11/18 post on why we can't actually "make" other people accountable.
We conflate feelings (emotions) with thoughts (stories about our emotions). See my 12/12 post about this.
We conflate hurt (a feeling) with harm (damage).
We conflate hurt with trauma (trauma happens when our safety is actually threatened or compromised).
We conflate reactions to things that evoke big emotion with trauma triggers (specific to people with PTSD).
We conflate triggered trauma with proof of harm (being triggered doesn't mean harm occurred).
We conflate conflict & meanness with abuse (defined by intimate violence advocates as power based violence, or as behavior that violates another person's sovereignty and is inescapable - i.e. online conflict is not abuse until it becomes demanding mob harassment a person can't escape).
We conflate selfishness with narcissism (psychiatric diagnosis that only applies to .5 - 1% of the population).
These conflations heighten our activation in response to people we disagree with or who hurt us. We become intolerant in our heightened emotional state and are more likely to try to coerce toward our way of seeing through verbal and emotional violence. We weaponize these concepts to shame and coerce people into taking excessive or false blame for their actions, which is a facet of accountability abuse online (inescapable harassment for non-factual accusations).
In the next few days I will address the conflations above in more detail with examples.
I said I was going to deep dive on my proposed agreements for safe relating and I will, but we can't get to safe relating if we can't agree on what certain concepts mean, especially the highly charged concepts that activate big emotion and our propensity toward violent action (violence defined as any attempt to violate sovereignty by coercing and controlling ourselves or someone else).