The Passive-Aggressive Society

Good to note these things. The entitlement people get from their very small “purpose” in life is interesting to observe. Especially those frickin’ bicyclists!

passive aggressive

The Passive-Aggressive Society

by Severian

I’ve always hated brown-nosers, apple-polishers, call them what you will. Their constant whine — “Will this be on the test?” “Will this be on the test?” “Will THIS be on the test?” — is like a dental drill in my brain. Back when The Simpsons was still kinda funny, Lisa was one of those kids — in one episode, the teachers go on strike, and she ends up begging her Mom for a grade on something, anything:

Grade me…look at me…evaluate and rank me! Oh, I’m good, good, good, and oh so smart! Grade me!

Now, I don’t want to make any false representations. I was no teenage rebel. The only reason I know what those kids are like is because I was in all the same classes  — draw your own conclusions as to my likely behavior from that. I jumped through all the hoops, same as they did… but I never could shake the feeling that hoop-jumping was all it was. I got no thrill of victory from scoring the highest out of all my classmates on the English Lit AP exam; nor was I crushed when they all went off to take the Calculus AP and I had to go hang out in the library for a few hours. I’m sure that shit impressed the early decision committee at Berkeley, but… who cares? I mean, obviously they cared, but why?

Superiority at ass-kissing and rule-following is a petty, sour kind of superiority, but apparently lots of people disagree.

What got me thinking about this is my search for a new term to cover a pervasive behavioral pattern. I put “passive-aggressive” in the title, and that’s what I’ve been using in lieu of a better term, but that doesn’t really cut it. Here’s the “official” definition of “passive-aggressive:”

Passive-aggressive behavior is characterized by a pattern of passive hostility and an avoidance of direct communication. Inaction, where some action is socially customary, is a typical passive-aggressive strategy (showing up late for functions, staying silent when a response is expected). Such behavior is sometimes protested by associates, evoking exasperation or confusion. People who are recipients of passive-aggressive behavior may experience anxiety due to the discordance between what they perceive and what the perpetrator is saying.

There’s definitely a lot of that going around, but it doesn’t describe the behavior of the apple polishers, or the people who have issued themselves the Asshole License. You know the ones I mean: SJWs, of course, but also CrossFitters, vegans, cyclists… basically, anyone who takes up a certain cause or lifestyle seemingly for the sole purpose of being an enormous douchebag about it in every possible social situation. Neither I nor anyone else would have a problem with vegans, say, if they really were doing it for their health, as they so often claim, because if they really were doing it for their health, they’d bring it up once, and then forever shut the fuck up about it.

But they don’t. Similarly, nobody would have a problem with bike riders if they’d just follow the goddamn rules of the road. But they don’t, and the more “cyclist” shit they own — the racing bikes made out of space station parts, the lycra bodysuits, the helmets that look like cranial jockstraps — the less the rules of the road apply to them. Spot one of those fuckers in full kit, and you’re guaranteed to see him weaving in and out of four lanes, turning abruptly without signaling, and blowing through stop signs at full speed, with nary a glance at cross traffic. They’re possessors of the Asshole License First Class, you see, so obviously the rules don’t apply when they’re doing their Official Asshole Thing.

See what I mean? That’s not “passive-aggressive.” But it’s not “active-aggressive” either. They’re not trying to pick a fight. It’s like virtue-signaling, in that you, the audience, are absolutely necessary, but unlike the standard virtue-signal, which is strictly an intra-Leftist competition, this one entails hostility towards the rest of the world, not just toward fellow Leftists…

I don’t think that’s very clear, so maybe a counterexample will help. Serious weightlifting, for the most part, doesn’t come with an Asshole License, even though a serious weightlifter is far more likely than a serious vegan to be able to back it up should his assholery ever get called. I’m not denying that gym bros exist, but “gym bro” is a tightly contained subculture; they only pull that shit with other gym bros. They’re almost entirely absent from the workplace, and if they try to pull it, they get shunned in a way vegans, cyclists, etc. just… don’t, despite the fact that the latter are way more obnoxious to far more people (anyone who doesn’t get to the office before the crack of dawn now has to park six blocks over, or on the garage roof in the baking heat, because all the ground floor spaces got taken out to put in a zillion fucking bike racks. Thanks, dickheads).

Nor is it confined to fitness or diet, this “passive-aggressive” thing I’m trying to name. Consider the middle-aged SWPL lady who puts one of those “my broomstick is in the shop” bumper stickers on her SUV. Or the wall-adjacent SWPL mom who runs around in a neon-lettered t-shirt that reads “neurodivergent,” and lets her kids wear t-shirts that say things like “you suck!” (over the Nike swoosh, natch, for the boys) or “don’t even bother” (in princess pink, for the girls). Wiki suggests this could best be labelled “catty” — “deliberate, active, but carefully veiled hostile acts which are distinctively different in character from the non-assertive style of passive resistance” — but I’m not sure that covers it….

…but I know it’s growing increasingly prevalent. Any thoughts?

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