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: