Art courtesy

Given the debacles of the last week or so, and the ways I’ve seen back-and-forth going on several issues, it is past time for me to voice a gripe I have with certain behaviors people exhibit here in the wilds of the Internet. I will avoid naming names, but since without context I may as well be pissing in the wind, here’s an example of what I’m on about.

In the process of a competition, someone said something that, intentional or no, could be misconstrued as insulting, belittling, perhaps even bullying. Hindsight being what it is, and seeing as the source was representing a group directly linked to the competition, the source went about finding a way to make amends. The recipient, on the other hand, took umbrage. While this is a reasonable response, what followed was a very public tirade, a multi-tiered response that looks from the outside to be a very vehement and unwarranted counter-attack, and a great deal of self-victimization, blowing the initial incident far out of proportion.

Now, what was initially said probably should not have been said. That is a point agreed upon all around. But this was like responding to the accidental shooting of a civilian with an all-out, nationwide nuclear assault. “Kill one of my people, will you? Well, how about I kill a billion of yours!” Not exactly an appropriate means of conflict resolution.

What irks me is the passive-aggressive way this and several other conflicts have evolved. If someone is causing you grief, or you take issue with what they said, why not confront the person directly? It wasn’t myself personally who was involved with this, so I really have no stake or cause in naming names, but come on. Didn’t Malcolm Reynolds say “The next time you stab me in the back, have the courage to do it to my face”? Where’s the courage, here? Where’s the balls?

If all you do in response to an insult, perceived or actual, is make yourself out to be the wounded party in public, rather than confronting the source and ensuring intent and communication were clear, you come off as whiny. Needy. You don’t take responsibility for what’s going on, simply letting others either take the blame or come to your rescue. Sure, you might get a few new Twitter followers out of the deal, but is a bunch of half-cocked white-knight anonymous types really the kind of people you want being aware of your every move? Think about that.

It’s the same thing that bugs me about people who post on forums with the clever closing line “I’ll just leave this here”. No. Don’t just leave it there. Explain yourself. Make your case. Don’t hide behind a gif image or someone else’s rhetoric. I hate that shit. Yeah, sure, I thought it was cute and clever a while back, but you know what? It isn’t. It’s too easy. It’s cowardly. And it needs to stop.

I know it may seem hypocritical to not name names or cite any other specific instances, but this is not an instance of going after person A or sticking up for person B. This is just general, well-intentioned outrage at a mode of behavior that is becoming way too prevalent. Coded messages on Facebook, rhetorical questions asked over Twitter, stonewalling actual inroads for discussion… it’s like this sort of passive-aggressive baiting is becoming the lingua fraca of the Internet.

Remember the whole “Be polite, be efficient, be prepared to kill everyone you meet” thing from the Iraq invasion some time ago? Or, if you prefer, the SOP of the Sniper from Team Fortress 2? That still applies. Be polite when you approach someone you feel has offended you. You never know, they might have spoken out of turn or did not think their words could be hurtful. Is it so difficult to give someone the benefit of the doubt? Also, don’t mince words. Get to the point, and make your case. You’ll be much more broadly and well received if you behave like an adult instead of a petulant, whiny child. And as for the last? It goes with not mincing words. Say what you mean, and if something pisses you off, say so. Stand by your feelings, but don’t let them run the conversation. It’s like the aging man with the shitty tattoos at the top of this post says:

“Either have your phasers set on KILL, or motherfucker, don’t show up.”

Passive-aggressive bullshit is the STUN setting. It’s lightweight, kindergarten playground bullshit. It’s not constructive communication. It isn’t mature. It’s getting fucking disgusting.

Knock it off.

Thank you.