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The Douchey DM » Opinion » Why Are You Being Rude?

Why Are You Being Rude?

I don’t understand something. Maybe someone can explain it to me (I’m not really looking or an explanation — it’s rhetorical, really).

I’ve seen dozens of instances of it, but two very recently. Both Kimi (Happy Jacks host) and Mac Beauvais (Strange Like That) have received snarky comments from self appointed steampunk critics or experts (I’m not sure which, and it doesn’t really matter) about their DC steampunk costumes.

Essentially, what they’re saying is, “I don’t like what you’re doing and I’m going to criticize it.”

While I don’t pretend to understand the rage about the inconsequential, it’s not uncommon. I know a guy who hates Sketchers. That’s right, the shoes. He can go off on a tirade about why he hates Sketchers.

But you know what he doesn’t do? He doesn’t post comments on their web page or write them angry letters. You know why? He isn’t crazy.

And that’s what I’m getting to. I understand not liking something. It’s a matter of taste, preference or whatever. I’m right there with you. There are many things I do not like, but  from where does this compulsion to constantly criticize the inconsequential come?

It’s rude. You understand that, right? Didn’t anyone tell you, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” Have you diagnosed yourself with Asperger’s, so you think it’s okay to be rude?

It isn’t.

Now, if these people were (for example) telling you to buy their indie film on DVD, and you did, and you watched it and it sucked, that’s different. It cost you money, and your opinion, properly voiced, can save people from spending money on something that sucks. But that’s not what’s going on here.

I realize this isn’t going to change, and a lame blog post isn’t likely to turn a rude person polite. But just in case these people do have some disorder that causes them to miss social cues and cross the line between rude and polite, I figured I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and spell it out.

Here’s a quick flowchart for the self-diagnosed Asperger’s sufferer:

I think that’ll help.

For the rest of us, I honestly think we need to start deleting such comments. I know that goes against the concepts of free expression and the exchange of ideas, but we’re not talking about opinions with any worth.

Written by

Stu Venable is the producer of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast and writer and editor of He is founder and director of the Poxy Boggards and a member of Celtic Squall. He holds a degree in Journalism and Public Relations from California State University, Long Beach. He is a husband and a father. He hates puppies.

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15 Responses to "Why Are You Being Rude?"

  1. RobertNo Gravatar says:

    Sadly complete freedom of speech and anonymity creates a higher percentage of jackasses. They feel their opinions become so important that the thought of it hurting another person means nothing. I get the feeling that if there was an internet operated hunting rifle pointing at a large crowd, there would be a line of people waiting to gain control to shoot.

  2. Mike RichardsNo Gravatar says:

    I have to say I have never understood it either. There is a lot of shit in life that I don’t like, and I don’t feel the need to go to those companies or people and tell them…

  3. Corrosive RabbitNo Gravatar says:

    Sadly, a lot of people see being negative as a way to show how tough and independent-minded they are. They seem to forget that while speaking truth to power is a laudable act, there’s nothing brave about whining and griping from behind a cloud of internet anonymity.

  4. KimiNo Gravatar says:

    It’s really simple. People want to “belong” and the easiest way to prove that you belong to something is to loudly exclude others. I’ve made it a policy to never reply to negative comments. They just want to leech off my work and get attention.

    Thanks for this Stu. Love the flow map!

  5. Mac BeauvaisNo Gravatar says:

    Wanted to pop in and also give my praise for this post and the fantastic flow chart!

    As to the topic, I will generally ignore those who post rude and insulting things, but sometimes my nerd rage gets the better of me and I will respond with all possible sarcasm at the ready. Also, I sometimes just want them to know that people are watching, and that their audience might possibly include someone that is going to hit back. If I can get at least one person to think twice, I’ll be satisfied.

  6. James DugganNo Gravatar says:

    As someone who is professionally diagnosed with Asperger’s, I do not like how you incorporated Asperger’s into the article. We do not suffer from it. Sure, it has given us extra hurdles in life, but to equate Asperger’s with suffering is ignorant. And while I understand you prefaced your usage of Asperger’s with the phrase “self-diagnosed”, you are still making a generalization about Asperger’s and rudeness that’s not entirely accurate. We don’t try to be rude, we just have a problem understanding tact (which I have worked on a lot, though I can’t speak for others)

    And why are you assuming these rude people are automatically self-diagnosed with Asperger’s? Did it come up? I didn’t see it in Mac’s case. Unfortunately I haven’t found the issue Kimi was having with it, but even if that person was self-diagnosed, it’s, quite frankly, rude to paint them all with the same brush. Also, you didn’t have to keep using the term when you got to the flowchart.

  7. shortymonsterNo Gravatar says:

    I have laid out in my ‘about’ page exactly what i think about mean and rude comments. haven’t had any yet, but we shall see…

  8. JackNo Gravatar says:

    I haven’t seen the posts or the comments you’re talking about, so I can’t really say if there’s a line that was crossed or whether these opinions have worth or not, but to be a dissenting voice I’m not sure I agree either (1) the only comments should be positive comments, or (2) deleting offensive comments is a noble thing to do. I guess it’s maybe a philosophical thing and your mileage may vary, but…

    To point (1), and reiterating that I haven’t seen the conversations in question, if all you get are negative comments that can be detrimental to your art (whatever that art happens to be). People who offer criticism show you places where you could improve, or at least variant ideas on what your art is or could be. I’m sure there’s a critic out there to find flaws in any work, no matter how perfect, and sometimes you smile and politely ignore them. And sometimes they’re a bit crass or narrow-minded in their criticism, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something of value to be learned there. Negative comments aren’t always fun, and negative commenters aren’t always noble or altruistic, but my point is that saying “never leave a negative comment” is potentially problematic.

    To point (2), yeah, sometimes people can be nasty, and we don’t want to encourage or cultivate a community where that becomes the norm. But I’m generally of the opinion that the best response to offensive speech is more speech — if they’ve said something wrong, they should be corrected, not silenced. and yeah, you’re not likely to change their mind no matter how much effort you put in to it — at some point you smile and politely ignore them — but this counter-speech shouldn’t be directed in such a way as to change the offensive speaker’s mind so much as to show *the audience* that this guy is wrong and here’s why. If one person says something, ten others are thinking it, and the best way to deal with the issue, I think, is to engage it directly.

    1. JackNo Gravatar says:

      *”if all you get are positive comments that can be detrimental to your art (whatever that art happens to be).”

  9. StuNo Gravatar says:

    I can’t link the one instance because it’s on facebook, and who knows what facebook will decide to show you when you click the link. But here’s the exchange.

    A picture of Kimi’s costume was posted w/ this caption: “Have you seen Kimi’s amazing costumes from Comic-Con? Check them out at Golden Lasso Cosplay. She also pimped our show, so WELCOME NEW LISTENERS!”

    The response: “Gives steampunk a very bad name.”

    You can read the other interchange here:

    Maybe it’s because nearly every CMS has a comment system built into it, I don’t know, but many people assume that EVERYTHING posted to the web is there to receive criticism, but I don’t think that’s the case, and offering *unsolicited* criticism is rude.

    For instance, I know a little about songwriting, and I know several other songwriters, so I occasionally get asked to critique peoples’ songs. The ONLY time I offer unsolicited feedback is if it’s in one of my bands — and that’s because I’m going to have to perform the song.

    But even when I *do* get asked to provide a critique, I do so carefully. Some people are just looking for some praise and a pat on the head. Any real criticism I give them will be carefully phrased. Other people will say, “tear it apart, I can take it.” They get the unvarnished truth.

    But in these instances, no critique was solicited. These are people who are just proud of their work and post pictures up.

  10. Mac BeauvaisNo Gravatar says:

    To elaborate on my case; I wasn’t even the person who put my image online. I found the image because another individual had placed it on Tumblr. I reposted it, but it was already out there without my doing.

    Regarding negative/constructive criticism, that’s absolutely fine. I think everyone should be open to receiving either. However, there is a distinct line between criticism and downright rude and nasty responses. “This is s***” is not anywhere near “I don’t like this” or “this would have been better if…”. It’s silly to think everyone will like the same thing, but if they don’t the least they can do is be a civilized person about it.

    1. JackNo Gravatar says:

      To you and Stu both, I agree it’s rude to give unsolicited advice, that unhelpful comments like “this is shit” and “gives steampunk a bad name” are, on their own, not good for anyone. My stance is a much easier one to hold if everyone’s civil and constructive. But I was mostly reacting to Stu’s flowchart which, if followed by everyone, would preclude anything except positive comments on things we like. It might be a comforting rule for unhelpful jerks to follow, but I don’t think it should be applied broadly (I’m not sure I think it should be applied at all).

      I think there is an argument to be made that if you’re posting something on the Internet you’re essentially requesting feedback by that act alone — especially if you’re posting it somewhere that has a comment mechanism. I think the argument is weaker with something like Facebook, unless it was posted to a public group or Page or something — and if it wasn’t, now you’re talking about so-called-friends being jerks, and that’s a different issue altogether.

      Some people are just proud of their stuff, and that’s great and I definitely don’t want them to get discouraged. But I still feel like the right way to handle negative comments is to either engage them (“why do you think it’s shit?”) or ignore them.

      1. JackNo Gravatar says:

        FWIW, if you’re the Poison Ivy one (strangelikethat?), it looks like that’s exactly what you did.

        1. StuNo Gravatar says:

          There are so many examples I can think of re: “if you’re posting something, you’re soliciting feedback” that I don’t think I’d attempt to make that argument.

          I’ve posted scans of pictures my 5-year-old drew for me. If someone starts playing amateur art critic, they’re going to piss me off, you know what I mean? A very specific, extreme, example, to be sure, but I can think of dozens more.

          I know many people who try their hands at new hobbies and post their progress on the net. Some of them *are* looking for feedback, but some are just documenting their progress. Don’t you think it’d be polite to at least ask first?

          I can think of all kinds of real world examples where “post on the net” does not equal “soliciting criticism.” Especially if you’re commenting to someone you don’t know.

  11. Mac BeauvaisNo Gravatar says:

    Yep, that’s me. I don’t often rise to the occasion when someone is negative because it’s usually not worth my time, and with some comments it’s an obvious trolling attempt. But there are times where I feel something needs to be said. I believe a lot of people assume that on a site like Tumblr, the person on whose image they’re responding to isn’t watching. Sometimes I want to give them a reminder that they might be making wrong assumptions about that.

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