Monday, 7 October 2013

I'm leaving this page, oh wait, no one cares..

The distinctive supercilious flavour of The Alpha Parent is not for everyone, and hey, that’s okay. Not liking something online is not in itself that unusual. It happens to most people at some point. The dignified response is to simply click the red cross in the corner of the screen and walk away without a fuss – no departure announcements, no press conferences. There is no need for town criers.

However such a subtle exit is too risky for insecure folk– it runs the risk of the devastating realisation that nobody gives a shit that they're leaving the Facebook page/forum/Twitter conversation/whatever. Instead these people feel compelled to announce their departure, done with great fanfare, and followed by a quiet return within a week or even within a few minutes. This irritating and widespread passive-aggressive phenomena is known formally as ‘flouncing’. Some of my favourite flounces include:

  • “I’m unliking this page now”.
  • “I thought this blog/forum was for ___________?”
  • “You are all so mean/ignorant/judgemental/rude!”
  • “This is a waste of my time”
  • “Thanks to everyone who was actually nice”.
  • “I feel sorry for your husband/children”.
  • “I’m going over to __________, it’s much more supportive/interesting/open-minded than this place”.
  • “I’ve never had to do this before, but I’m leaving”.
  • “I didn’t come here to get judged”.

Think of flouncing like slamming the proverbial door on your way out - the way a teenager interacts with their parents. In fact, flouncing starts way before teenhood, literally as soon as a child can string a sentence together they can trot out a flounce: “Wah, I'm taking my toys and leaving the sandbox. Hmmph!” Most people grow out of this behaviour once they reach maturity. A minority of people however, will continue ad infinitum. To these people I ask: would you walk into a bar full of people, shout "I'm never coming in this bar again, I hate loads of you" and walk out? Probably not. And why not? Because no one gives a flying toss if you’re leaving. So why how about extending the same courtesy online?

The method behind the madness

Ever pondered why flouncers feel compelled to flouce even when it makes them look like twats? I’ll tell you why: aside from giving their hurt psyche a sense of closure, the act of announcing butthurt attracts external validation. Flouncers are looking for someone to give them a sense of self-importance. They want their 0.5 minutes of fame and to indulge the narcissistic dream that "somebody" cares. Flouncers aim to barter as much attention and sympathy from their computer screen as possible - with minimal effort. Their goal is to extract validation and approval from other people. In this sense, the primary motivation of a flouncer is not so much to announce the fact that they're leaving but to announce why they are leaving. The flounce wants her discontent to be known and she wants the reassurance of knowing she isn’t alone in feeling that way. Yup, flouncing is ultimately a ploy in mindless self-gratification.

Make no mistake about it, flouncing is a form of trolling, an attempt to rally the troops towards some sort of online walk-out. When a flounce drama queen announces she’s leaving, it creates a strategic self-serving win-win scenario entailing no risk with possible reward, all while giving her a stage from which to shake her fist at the heavens.

You see, the timing of these flouncing rituals prevent the target from replying, and indeed this is the flouncer's intention. By announcing her departure, the flounce can give her opinion on the topic of debate whilst also shielding it from any criticism. It’s akin to saying, “Here’s my opinion and now I’m leaving so you can’t debate the validity of it”. Flouncers anticipate that defending their opinions would be too intellectually taxing and so after having the final word, they flee the scene. In other words, they can participate in the argument without actually producing an argument. Bitch, please!

Undeniably, flouncers are lazy game-players. Flouncing can be an effective strategy to stop or derail a conversation, shifting the focus away from the original topic, which may have been uncomfortable. Ordinarily the flounce will list grievances, followed by a promise that they are so outraged they will never return. On very exceptional occasions - they may never return. Almost always however, they do not intend to adhere to their words - the statement is merely for dramatic effect. If they were really, truly and finally "done" with a community, then they would not post a message attempting to communicate with it.

My personal response to flouncing

I believe firmly that it is irrational to care more about the few who dislike your work than the multitude who like it. To echo my opening words to this post: ‘The Alpha Parent is not for everyone, and that’s okay.’ You can please some of the people, some of the time. This site is by its very nature – political. When controversy is a menu staple, butthurt is par for the course. I won’t be losing sleep anytime soon. I may however, call a wambulance to help the flounce on their way.

Certainly, I have no objection to someone obnoxious leaving my blog, forum or Facebook page. Flouncers are, after all, the same reactionary waifs that trawl through every last comment and automatically assume everything revolves around them and is personally directed. In fact, if there are any flounces reading this, I guarantee that each, without exception, will assume this rant is directed personally at them and only them. That kind of paranoia sucks energy from discourse. To put crudely: if your presence can’t add value to this site, your absence will make no difference.

Dear flouncers, I leave you with my official Butthurt Report Form:


YesTequila said...

Just to play devil's advocate, why would an employee who decides to leave a company request an exit interview? It's because they feel compelled to share the reason for their departure with someone who is in a position to do listen and possibly, make changes. Some people invest a lot of themselves into a job and I guess the same can be said of an online discussion. So when a person decides that it's time to leave and they felt it was because of a bad experience, there's a part of them that hopes their departure will serve a purpose. Perhaps make the place they're leaving better for those who stay. Maybe.

Melanie said...

Bah ha-haha!! Love it!! =)

Devon Palmer said...

I love this article so much. It really opens my eyes as to how stupid we all can sound if we announce our leaving a page, or make a huge deal of not agreeing with it. No one would do this in public, and not many realize how bad it makes people look online. I've been guilty of a bit of flouncing, but honestly reading this has made me realize how ridiculous I'm sure I sounded, haha. We all should learn from this!

L Marelli said...

Love the form. Classic!

Sara Keen said...


Anonymous said...

I agree with YesTequila in that perhaps the person is trying to let the page owner know the exact reason that they're leaving so that they might change. I left a page just yesterday and - unlike the list here - didn't hang around to see what was written afterward, nor did I rejoin and I will not rejoin. I told the page owner why I didn't like what happened and I unliked their page. It's doubtful, but maybe the other people who were echoing what I was saying prior to my departure will be treated better than I was. There was no passive aggression with it, again, unlike what you've written here. Maybe I'm just a bad flouncer?

Lorefold said...

Ok, that's it, I'm untweeting this page on my buttbook right now!

...but seriously now: there is a lot of maturity in accepting constructive feedback. Even angry flouncers can give insight into something one was missing. Having said that, usually they will be nothing more than an annoying distraction and in case of Alpha Parent they'd probably be a positive indicator of intended controversy.

Dragonf;ly said...

I get this all the time on my pages! They are like broken records and who actually cares if you are leaving.

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