Why are people grudgeful?

I have a sneaking suspicion that people with kids who wake you up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday or Sunday aren’t really sorry to have done so. They just think that if they have to wake up at an ungodly hour because one of the little blighters wants to watch cartoons, the rest of the world should suffer too. They just pretend it hadn’t occurred to them you might still be in bed. ‘Oh sorry, did I get you up?’

It’s a bit like people who switch channels with the remote, then say ‘Oh sorry, were you watching that?’ They know you were.

In both cases of course the correct British response is, “oh no, it’s fine, go ahead, don’t mind me, it was just on in the background, I was just getting up anyway” etc. Which I think it’s what described as ‘passive aggressive’, though  I also think that’s a rather misused phrase.

Is blogging about someone’s behaviour without raising it with them directly being passive aggressive? Or is being a bit of a martyr (“don’t mind me”)? I think the latter is, but I’ve heard the phrase used in respect of the former, when really it’s just people being a bit cowardly, isn’t it?

Perhaps in some circumstances the tendency of the blogosphere to slag off people behind their backs, but not really behind their backs – i.e. in a forum where they might well find out what is being said – could be seen as a display of passive aggressive behaviour. I don’t mean overtly hostile online attacks, which are obviously just aggressive-aggressive, but those which could perhaps be excused with “I’m not having a direct go at you, I’m just expressing my opinion, in the interests of debate, etc, etc?” Whereas if they actually wanted a debate, they’d address their comments directly to you, rather than doing their own blog posts and drawing the attention of their friends to it, but not the person criticised. 


1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive%E2%80%93aggressive_behavior.

2. I’m not really blogging about the issues raised in the first paragraph behind anyone’s back. Bristolwestpaul and Ed Balls have both been told! The councillor who texts me with bright ideas at 7.30am doesn’t have kids, doesn’t read my blog, and is probably incapable of mending his ways.

Back to my theory…. I see it a lot on Twitter, someone talking about someone else without directly talking to them. For example, a Lib Dem MP who lost her seat at the election (Sandra Gidley) once tweeted something along the lines of “complete tosh from @KerryMP” in relation to a blog post. And then ignored me when I tweeted back. Actually I think I was saying Lib Dems would put power before principle if they had a chance of getting into Government. I was, of course, right. 

So what’s better/ worse out of the following scenarios?

a) to tweet “Complete tosh from Kerry McCarthy”

b to tweet “Complete tosh from @KerryMP”

c) to tweet “@KerryMP you are talking complete tosh” 

The last course is of course the most honest, and in a warped way, the best-mannered. The first is either rather cowardly, or perhaps they just can’t remember your twitter name. And the second just seems very rude to me.

Oh, and no prizes for anyone thinking of responding to this by saying something about the lines of “KerryMP talking complete tosh? Not passive-aggressive, just true!”

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  • John H  On June 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Blogging without passive aggression? About as likely to be achieved as politics without off-the-record briefings to journalists. 😉

    Love the title to this post, though. Not enough Fall references in modern politics: hope the leadership candidates follow your example on this. 🙂

  • kerrymccarthy  On June 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I think that’s extremely unlikely! The Fall refs I mean… I will try to coach Ed B to sing his karaoke favourite, Endless Love, in the style of Mark E Smith. Endless -uh Love -uh!

  • jtsmyth  On June 6, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    On the Twitter part of the blog a) annoys me the most. I have seen it used a lot when people criticise someone from ‘their own side,’ i.e a Labour tweeter disagreeing with a Labour MP. This smacks of cowardness in my eyes. At least with b) they are willing to stand by their views and beliefs, letting you know what they think. C) of course is the most honest and should be the one used. Unfortunatly one thing I have noticed on Twitter is many people caring more about their ‘status’ than actually what they think, Trying to keep in with the right people than standing on their own two feet. At times its like a giant school playground.

  • @genji2000  On June 7, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    a) is fine if the tweeter is only commenting to his or her followers.
    b) is fine if the tweeter wants to comment to his or her followers and gain the attention of the subject of his or her tweet
    c) is fine if the tweeter wants to directly address the subject of his or her tweet

    As you know, Kerry, no one is under obligation to respond to any tweet addressed to him or her.

  • Praguetory  On June 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I use twitter but haven’t a clue what you’re talking about in this post. On the theme of ‘grudgeful’ have you managed unambiguous condemnation of John McDonnell’s comments about killing a political rival?

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