The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

This Is Not a Passive-Aggressive Post January 31, 2012

Filed under: Psychology,Rants — lizardesque @ 6:18 pm
Tags: , ,

Odd things annoy me. It’s my own fault. I let them get to me. Then again, I have started to think of all of life’s little mishaps and annoyances as potential blog fodder, which I can hopefully use to amuse and entertain.

One of my odd annoyances came to the forefront of my mind last night while I was listening to the radio. A McDonald’s commercial played. In it, a woman asks a man what he wanted to do for dinner that evening. The man responded that he wanted fruit and oatmeal from McDonald’s. The woman got annoyed and said that she admitted she was wrong when she said that you could only get said oatmeal concoction during breakfast hours, and did he have to keep passive-aggressively throwing it in her face?

Now THAT is passivity

The writing in most advertisements makes me want to bang my head against something unyielding, and this was no exception. This commercial might not faze most people because, as I hear the term misused so often, it seems to me that most people do not know what passive-aggressive actually means. Many times when people say “passive-aggressive,” what they really mean is snide, manipulative, underhanded, or just plain douchey.  In fact, a lot of people might think that this post is passive-aggressive, that I’m actually trying to get the message about the misuse of passive-aggressive out to a specific person or people without confronting him/her/them directly. Nope. Even if I were secretly directing this post at someone or some people, it would not be passive-aggression. Passive-aggression is not simply being nonconfrontational. Passive-aggression is aggression through passivity (that is, not doing something).

For example, badmouthing a coworker you dislike but never directly confronting him/her about the issues between you is NOT passive-aggression. It’s not directly confrontational, but it’s not passive, and it’s not even particularly subtle. On the other hand, giving your husband the silent treatment because he did not take out the garbage is a form of passive-aggression. Here are a few other examples of what is and is not passive-aggression.

  • When one of my former housemates did not do her share of household chores, that could have been construed as passive-aggression on her part (although, in truth, I do believe it was just laziness and slovenliness). My other housemate and I placing the vacuum cleaner in the center of her bed was definitely not passive-aggression.
  • When I correct restaurant chalkboard signs that have errors in grammar and punctuation, this is not passive-aggression. If I avoid eating at establishments with errors on their signs in hopes that I will drive them out of business, that is passive-aggression.
  • “Forgetting” your deadline and not completing your project because you feel under-appreciated at work is passive-aggressive. Anonymously posting pictures of your boss on the Internet and labeling them “Chronic Bed-wetter” in large, red letters is not passive-aggressive.
  • None of these or these are passive-aggressive. I’m also pretty sure that no one posting on actually knows that passive-aggression is.
  • Not reading my blog because you think I can be a preachy know-it-all and don’t want to encourage that is passive-aggression. 🙂

One Response to “This Is Not a Passive-Aggressive Post”

  1. rondi Says:

    Yes, but passive aggressiveness can be as subtle as wearing pajamas with flying sheep or cupcakes, and between the happy images, “you’re not mom’s favorite,” or “I didn’t know Satan had a sister,” in small print. It’s not said, but it’s what you’re thinking.

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