Goaded by Youngster

I just had an exchange that got my dander up and have decided to deal with it here. Consider me goaded.

Someone I follow posted a screenshot of some teenage drama they are engaging in. In it, she and her friend were trashing someone they’re beefing with. The poster added a note to the picture in which she asked another user if she is, “being mean or just honest.”

I’m not so sure why I felt the need to respond to this, but I thought I would send some food for thought the poster’s way. So I sent her a private ask with the following message:

“Unsolicited question, I know, so I’m not replying to your post directly. That said: Why do you assume that being honest isn’t also being mean? They are not mutually exclusive. The greatest cruelties are always honest.”

Now, I don’t know anyone in the exchange and am not the slightest bit invested in their drama. I just saw her using this false dichotomy that so many do these days to justify shitty, reality-TV type behavior. It’s the kind of thinking that helps make the world a shittier place to live in; a noxious element in the “Mean Girls” atmosphere permeating Western civilization. It’s not just that we’re going to embrace being shitty: we’re going to tart our shittiness up in the guise of virtue.

(“God! I’m just being honest!”)

I really have no idea to what degree the poster was invested in the trope they were using, but I thought she might be smart enough to benefit from considering her assumptions a little. However, given the juvenile nature of the slut and looks shaming she was engaged in, I may have been expecting too much.

Be that as it may, she immediately replied (unpublished) with: “Was it not obvious that I was being facetious?”

Now, to answer the surface layer of her reply: No. No it wasn’t. Not even a little bit. The query very much was an earnest one (although not directed to me).

On a deeper level: Okay, I get it, my input is unwanted and irrelevant. In order to communicate this, she has engaged in a classic rhetorical strategy of youngsters and the simpleminded. The, “I wasn’t even being serious, and you are a total out-of-touch shithead for not picking up on that.”

Some would be tempted to go off on a tangent about millennials at this point, but I’m not going to fall into that trap. This tactic is not unique to millennials; it’s as old as dirt. The playground taunt of, “I could have beaten you if I really wanted, but I didn’t care enough to try.” If you can’t beat them, at least make sure you piss them off.

That’s fine. I was an uninvited participant to begin with, I’ll show myself out.

However, imagine my surprise then, when I returned to my newsfeed to see that she had written a text post in which she states: “it’s true, being mean and honest aren’t mutually exclusive. This is an interesting thing to reflect on because (blah, blah, blah)…”

All without any sign of my question to her anywhere on the post or her blog.

Oh no you didn’t. You did not just smack me down like my question was the most obtuse of irrelevancies, only to immediately answer the substance of it publicly on your blog like you came up with the notion to explore it by yourself. Posting your answer straight to your blog without any indication that this turn to a deeper thought was not derived from you.

You didn’t even have the class (as someone who lays claim to the mantle of “writer,” no less) to alter my turn of phrase. You just yoinked it for yourself. An expression, I might add, that was the most dynamic prose of your whole post.

Yeah, consider me goaded.

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