August 22nd, 2005


On Manufactured Drama :P

93, all!

What with all the genuinely bad things which happen in the world, I confess to a prejudice against manufactured drama which amounts to an almost physical revulsion: with few exceptions, those who aren't, say, patrolling Baghdad or getting chemo today are having a pretty goddamned good day, considering. With that in mind, I present (off the top of my head, feel free to expand or revise in comments):


When someone close to you does something which offends you:

1. Motive is more important than effect. "I'm really furious" is a statement about you, not about what the other person did; if you're going to be fair in judging them, you need to consider their intention more than your reaction. This probably ought to be rule two, since the next one logically precedes it, but I'm making it rule one because, if followed, it would end at least 93% of the manufactured drama in the world. ;)

2. This one is obvious to anyone within a bazillion miles of being a Thelemite, but I still think it's a good idea for everyone: allow people a very broad latitude to say and think what they will -- hell, even to do what they will. They are entitled not to please you in every respect, just as you are, not to please them.

3. Now that you've given them as broad a latitude as you can, and considered their motive as best you can, you have two choices: either (a) give them a chance to explain and/or make up for it, or (b) cut them out of your life AND FORGET ABOUT IT. Every conflict on earth is either subject to resolution, or it isn't: if it can be resolved, resolve it, if not, LET IT GO. I don't mean that you have to be the one to go to them for an explanation; if it's bad enough, they may have to come to you for forgiveness, which you are then free to grant or withhold. But to cut someone out of your life on the theory that they've done something unforgivable, and then continue to go on and on about it, is a problem in itself, unrelated to what they've done: at best a sign of immaturity, at worst of real pathology.

By the way, one of the best things about (a) is that it in itself minimizes unnecessary drama. Sometimes people really didn't mean to hurt us, and will say so, perhaps even be able to prove it, if asked.

4. Online interaction is, IMO, an unbelievably foolish way to manufacture, feed, nurture, or otherwise engage in drama. We don't know, and never will know, the majority of the people we "see" online, and if we DO know them, we should be trying to resolve conflicts OFFline. Text is a lousy way to resolve drama, and text DISPLAYED IN FRONT OF THIRD PARTIES only MAGNIFIES drama, not resolves it. This one has a corollary:

5. LJ is one of those online forums which provides endless labyrinths of enjoyment for the manufacture of drama, chief among its appeals the ability to lock, filter, and delete both posts and comments. I realize that not everyone follows my own policy -- every single one of my posts is ALWAYS public and ALWAYS enables comments -- and I can see value in some of the filters people use (though see #6 below)...but those who find that these LJ features prompt them to engage in ever more byzantine games of posting and locking and deleting and filtering might need to take a step back and consider why they're doing all this -- particularly since:

6. DELETED, LOCKED AND FILTERED LJ POSTS ALMOST INVARIABLY LEAK TO THE PEOPLE THEY WERE MEANT TO EXCLUDE. This is because some of the bestest buddies of the dramatically-inclined enjoy manufactured drama at least as much as they do, and do what they can to share the love...or because others feel, with some justification, that people shouldn't be discussed publicly behind their backs. Either way, as saith the Prophet, Duh. :/

7. These rules will prove no help at all to those who wish to manufacture drama, as they will tend to thwart such people's purposes; I bear no grudge against such folks, except for the aforementioned bias toward revulsion, as they too must behave as they will. I post these rules here for the people who find themselves trapped in drama -- their own, or someone else's -- that they'd just as soon avoid. For those latter (in my personal view, healthier) people, hope this helps.

93 93/93 -- AJ