After a gap of far too long it’s perhaps a little odd that I have decided to mark my return with an article about nastiness. But then if you didn’t appreciate ‘odd’ you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog anyway.
It was prompted by a reminder of how unnecessarily nasty people can get, often for little or no reason. This got me thinking whether nastiness could ever be justified and whether being nasty says more about the state of mind of the ‘nastor’ than the contents of the nasty comments say about the ‘nastee’. (I know those aren’t real words – but they might be now).
So when do people usually resort to nastiness?
- I guess the most obvious example is because they are simply a nasty person. You know the type – they generalise and exaggerate the truth to make a nasty dig at you, often when you’re at your most vulnerable. They keep you permanently on edge, unsure how they will react and you are always waiting for the nastiness to ooze out and poison the conversation. Quite often they project their views on to you with comments like “I don’t think you like me” or “Why are you always so mean to me?”. So what do you do about these people? Well first, take a look at your own actions and see if you did anything to provoke this behaviour, try to see the situation from their perspective and decide if this is an isolated display of nastiness, a misunderstanding, or if they really are an inherently nasty person – and to be fair there aren’t that many of these around but they are out there! If you think it’s a one-off then speak to them and try to sort things out. If you’re convinced they are just a nasty piece of work then move on my friend, you already have a perfectly good arsehole and life is way too short to surround yourself with any more.
- I think the next most common example is – when the subject of the nastiness (nastee) deserves it and I suppose we have to accept there may be occasions when this is justified. But how often can we truly say a person’s actions or comments are so heinous that they deserve both barrels of nasty vitriol? I suppose the test of this is how you will feel about the event months later. Does it really merit the abuse you dished out? If the answer is ‘yes’ then blast away, don’t let me stop you giving the bas@ard what they seemingly so richly deserve. If the answer is ‘no’ then perhaps you just lowered yourself to their level without just cause and you have learned to hold back a little next time.
- Another occasion is when the nastor thinks it will make them feel better about whatever has happened. They see themselves as the victim and only a rich dose of venom will right the wrong. This is the “I gave them a piece of my mind’ syndrome. Be careful about this, often you don’t have enough mind to be giving it away to every Tom, Dick or Harry especially when it rarely makes any difference to the outcome of the disagreement. And think about when you’ve done this – did you actually feel better or did it leave you more shaken, upset and struggling to convince yourself you feel better for saying what you said?
- Then there is the time when the nastor needs to feel justified in their actions and so is trying to provoke a response from the nastee. If the nastee responds with a similar outburst then the original nastor can feel their attack was eminently justified – in fact mild by comparison and it ‘proves’ what a thoroughly unpleasant person the nastee is and so they merit the nastiness (see point 2). It is incredible how determined some people can be in pursuit of this self-justification, even doggedly continuing as if the nastee is taking issue with them when in fact he/she is not rising to their bait at all. This is very common and stems from the insecurity of the nastor.
- It can also be used to emphasise the severity of an issue, which again is a form of self justification (see point 4). The nastor is attempting to demonstrate just how bad the perceived original offence is, otherwise they would not have reacted in such a nasty manner. Really? Or are they Points 1 or 3?
So what’s the point of all this? Am I going soft or about to confess I’m going to join a religious cult, or devote my life of charitable causes? No, I still believe in calling a spade a shovel, in voicing your opinions and if necessary, voicing them with passion and in forthright language. I think hiding your true feelings, lying, cheating and betrayal are far worse than giving someone your honest opinion.
But I feel the boundary between doing that and being nasty has blurred considerably. I see daily examples in the media, on social media and in everyday life when people are making a valid point, expressing it strongly but fairly and then they go and spoil it all by saying something nasty (to misquote the famous lyric).
It seems we reach for the nasty bucket way too quickly and don’t hesitate to pour the contents over anyone who has been unfortunate enough to have crossed our path. I rarely see an example which is justified.
My experience is that as soon as an argument, discussion or disagreement becomes personal and nasty, it lurches in a completely different direction. It deflects away from the true cause of the problem and creates a new problem which inevitably takes over and dominates the rest of the interchange – I suppose we all care about ourselves more than other issues so we leap at the chance to defend ourselves. People grab at the insult and use it to justify whatever they feel they need to say or do in their defence.
When this happens you can forget about resolution and, depending on the severity of the nastiness, any chance of reconciliation may have flown out of the window too. My advice is stick to the facts, keep emotions in check and don’t be too quick to reach for the vitriol to strengthen your argument – it will dilute it instead.
And if you can’t see what a wonderfully constructed argument I’ve put forward then you can all sod off because you’re clearly too stupid to appreciate my wisdom. 🙂
Good Luck and please share your thoughts.
The Barefoot Bohemian