OP is behaving cruelly. No one should brag about treating another person like this. The third reblogger is spot on that conversations aren’t battlefields – you don’t “win” by shaming or rebuking your interlocutor into silence. 

That said, I’m really not fond of statements like “kindness is free”, or “it costs zero dollars to be nice”, or any other permutation. Kindness isn’t free. No person has a limitless capacity for patience and understanding. To ignore that is to ignore the huge amount of work – yes, work – that humans put into cultivating compassion for others. And it not-so-implicitly shames people for whom that work isn’t easy. 

Listening to someone infodump is not effortless. As an avid infodumper myself, I am always mindful that people willing to listen to me ramble are doing me a kindness. Hanging onto a topic that doesn’t interest you in the slightest, especially when the infodumper is speaking quickly or making leaps that don’t make sense to you, takes effort. That doesn’t make it ~emotional labor~, and it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to rudeness or to bragging about making someone “visibly uncomfortable”, but it’s not free. It’s a competing access need.

Responding with eye rolls or stony silence when I ramble about historical clothing is disrespectful, but so is expecting limitless attention. “Just listen! It’s not hard!” elides that. And it ignores the fact that the neurodivergences that make people prone to infodumping are often the same ones that make it hard to listen intently. 

I’m confused by the assertion that feigning interest in boring infodumps isn’t emotional labor. What is emotional labor if it doesn’t include making an effort to fake emotions you aren’t feeling in order to spare someone else’s feelings?

OP (in linked post) is not behaving cruelly. They are exerting boundaries. 

Trying to move the conversation back, over and over again, to a topic someone expresses no interest in is demonstrating a need to be validated for their interests, without validating others in return. 

In the American South, young women are explicitly trained they need to humor, validate, listen, and ask leading questions on whatever topic a man they speak to chooses to converse about. 

Given that context, not expressing interest in a man’s uninteresting conversation is a way of reclaiming ownership over one’s own mind-space.

@funereal-disease, perhaps this dynamic doesn’t happen to you, but the people speaking out about it have a point.

@valiantfoxdinosaur you are exactly right, that is what emotional labor is.

It is possible to establish boundaries while also being unnecessarily cruel. You could respond to someone talking about their band with “I have no interest in your self-important mediocrity,” you’re being a dick, even if you’re perfectly at liberty not to listen to someone’s shitty band.

(Besides, the privileged infodump plenty and just don’t know it, whence the resentment, and hence the occasionally obnoxious ribbing about “sportsball and celebrities.”

indeed it is possible to maintain boundaries without being a jerk, which is what was being posted in the first place. Let’s examine the source material:

“Some guy today mentioned he was in a band to me and I watched him get visibly uncomfortable when I didn’t ask him anything about it. He kept trying to bring the conversation around to his band and I wasn’t budging.”

“POWER MOVE: Complete and utter disinterest in men’s obsession with their own mediocrity”

Nowhere does the poster do anything rude. They don’t call the boy mediocre, merely have that opinion, and later post about it stripped of ID’ing information.

Why, then, a huge thread bashing people who behave this way? Could it be… that not performing for mens’ amusement like a trained dog is often called “cruel”, even in the absence of cruelty? What social factors could lead to such a state of affairs? Why are so many posters invested in making up reasons why this particular boundary is objectionable? 

The cruelty is in the posting, not in the original action, for the same reason that, say, Something Awful was cruel to post a bad artists’ original work for the purpose of visciously mocking it, even if the original artist never sees the mocking.

Why, then, are defending bullying? Could it be that… cruelty is enjoyable, and some have an interest in ensuring the milder forms of it are sociallly acceptable?

does it count as cruelty or bullying if no one is hurt?

There’s nothing immoral about posting it. Indeed, posting it is laudable, for the same reason that I appreciate the bright colors on poisonous snakes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s