Social media breeds passive aggressive cattiness

Would you agree? I can’t go one day without someone posting a passive aggressive remark to a coworker, friend, lover or whoever on social media. I’m not sure if they’re venting or looking for validation or what. Do they assume that everyone but the object of disdain will notice it, or is that the point?

NPR’s “When Social Sharing Goes Wrong: Regretting the Facebook Post,” is about more than just a drunken bitchy moment or passive aggressive comment about someone’s boss (…ie. one new mom inadvertently posted a love-making video that was spliced at the end of her daughter’s first steps. Funny, but really, who hasn’t done that?). But the article included a great deal of research into the mix that may explain this behavior of acting out on social media:

…the nature of online and offline regret is also quite different. Evidence from real-world-regret literature (yes, there are many studies in this area) show that what we regret in real life tends to be what we don’t do [emphasis mine] — we regret inaction because of the fear of negative outcomes. For example, when we regret not telling people how we really feel about them.

But research indicates that Facebook users regret their action instead of inaction, “in which the impulsiveness of sharing or posting on Facebook may blind users to the negative outcomes of posts even if the outcome is immediate,” the Carnegie Mellon researchers wrote.

It may be that in real life, we bite our tongue or just can’t come up with that witty catty comment until the moment passes us by. But when it comes to our online personas, the time of response is extended. And when you do come up with the perfectly cutting comment, you post it for everyone to revel in. The regret comes later.

When you’re behind a computer screen somewhere, doling out insults when the person is out in cyberland, it may make you a little less inhibited. It’s almost as if the Internet serves as a shield of protection, when in most circumstances, you would employ some type of filter in a normal social setting, be it your target person or someone else. The regret only comes when you actually have to answer for your  actions or get called out by someone involved. Plus, you know… the whole, “Internet is forever.” Once posted (or emailed), you lose control of where the content is shared and who sees it.


facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

And on the receiving end, how long do you stew about a burn or snarky comment directed at you? Do you replay it over and over in your head? When someone puts those thoughts in print where the recipient can read and reread said comment creates even more stewing and resentment versus it having been said in a one-time event. And your audience is multiplied, reaching those who are second-degree  acquaintances and beyond.

It might be best just to count to 10, take a walk or imagine those “worst possible scenario” responses to your post before hitting that submit button. Or if it makes you feel better, post that snarky comment, just mark it for your eyes only.

I would loooove to hear your example of a Facebook snark gone bad (because misery loves company, right?) – what’s your take?



2 responses to “Social media breeds passive aggressive cattiness

  1. Pingback: Most people don’t know what Passive Aggressive means… | Madeline Scribes

  2. Pingback: Internship Week 5: Identifying Parameters | Greg Bem's Cambodian Library Reflections

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