I have recently observed of mean spirited comments escalating within closed groups. These closed groups could be coworkers, friends in meat space, friends online, or even just acquaintances. The trend is not for everyone to be mean all the time, it kind of slowly builds.

The example I use is that one day Person A makes a joking or biting comment about Person B’s appearance with in a group. Perhaps it is the color of their shirt not meeting the gender stereotype. People laugh knowing it was “meant in fun”. Everyone has a little chuckle and walks away with the feeling of having had a laugh.

In a few days Person A makes a comment about Person B’s choice of shirt again in front of the group. However since last time the comment was a gender comment, this time they move up a little to a sexual preference jab. Everyone laughs again. It is a minor escalation, but it has started a cycle.

A couple of days later Person C calls Person A a slang or derogatory term for genitalia in front of the group. After all Person C sees that as the natural progression from the gender comment. The cycle will build from there typically and people will become desensitized to the fact that they are attacking each other. They also could be using terms that are offensive but since everyone in the Group to part in the escalation people are afraid to say something.

Now here is where the language get’s more specific and R-Rated or Adult.

Let me illustrate this with dialog:

  • “Hey Dave, nice pink shirt. Did you borrow it from your girlfriend?”, Jim said sarcastically causing the group to laugh.
  • “Dave, you know how I know you are gay?” Jim intoned mockingly to the group. “Because you are wearing that pink shirt again.”
  • “Come on Dave, don’t be a pussy. Stop wearing that pink shirt.” Frank intoned demeaningly.

At this point from a small little joke it has escalated, and I can continue. I have seen it work up to be harassing and demeaning to all parties involved.

Don’t feed the cycle. Don’t keep trying to top the outrageousness. Be aware of when you are starting the cycle by thinking such basic things as would you want someone to say that to your family.

Say something when you see it going on or are starting to get uncomfortable. Don’t let the issue fester. Do you really want to hang out with people who are just negative to each other all the time.

-The Benevolent Misanthrope
Reformatted December 24, 2020