It’s SO unfair! I’ve just had yet another comment left on my blog accusing me of “whining”. Me? Whine? How could anyone write such a thing? That is just MEAN and WRONG and I’m NOT going to talk to ANYONE EVER AGAIN.
<stomps off to listen to Joy Division in darkened room for, like, ten million years>
[ten million years later]
Right, okay, I’m back now. I hope everyone’s sorry. As you can see, I just don’t do whining – passive-aggression’s much more my thing.
On a more serious note – :( – I do feel that lately I’ve been getting increasingly embroiled in discussions about tone and mood rather than “real” stuff. This could be for several reasons:
- I’m a woman and hence any words which I write – whatever they are – might “sound” shrill / hysterical / whingey. Like, this very sentence that I’m writing right now – does it sound irritatingly feminine to you? Does it, does it? Go on, you can say! (Although in actual fact, unbeknown to you, I’m hammering big booming WORDS down on the keyboard in a manly fashion. Bet you didn’t even notice!)
- I am annoying. Which, to be honest, I already know. But it doesn’t mean what I’m writing is, literally, whiny . ..
- … except that perhaps sometimes it is. But I don’t know how you’d measure that, and how much it’s not a subjective judgement based on how much a person just disagrees with what I’m writing (mind you, that last part of the previous sentence – that even sounded whiny to me, and I sodding well wrote it).
- It’s part of the “fun” of internet debate. You can’t hear someone’s voice when they’re typing, so why not make something up based on how you think it might sound, in line with how far you like or dislike their ideas? Whingey, whiny, moany, shouty – it’s all there for the taking. And to be fair, I make these accusations too. Usually to piss off people who’ve called me whiny (I call them whiny back. It’s not original but hey, I think lacking the motivation to be original is in keeping with the overall spirit of “whininess”).
This morning I read what I thought was a perfectly reasonable piece about Paralympian achievements being exploited in order to make people with disabilities feel bad. Some of the comments that followed it surprised me – “this article made me cringe due to its whiny peevishness”, “what an extraordinarily bitter article” – and I couldn’t help thinking (in my own whiny way) “how mean! They’re not proper responses – they’re just insults intended to make the author feel that whatever he writes will be exaggerated and misinterpreted”. Indeed, I felt quite outraged by this. So outraged, in fact, that it took me a while to calm down enough to respond to a comment on my own blog by telling someone that his response was “over-emotional” (in my defence, he started it by calling me “whiny” yet again. And I feel that if you respond on content, you’ve got to also respond on tone, otherwise it might look like you agree with the tone-based accusations against you. But if I’m honest his comment wasn’t over-emotional; it was just morally flawed and a bit rubbish, really. In my humble opinion, obvs).
Tone is partly about the words people choose. But it’s also a reflection of the ingrained responses you have to other people’s ideas and how much right you feel they have to express them to begin with. And yes, the tone I achieved right there was “pompous yet simultaneously a bit facile”. I don’t think for a minute that that’s subjective, either.* But I do wonder – again, in my whiny way – whether snide comments about tone really reveal an abject failure to engage in debate. I wonder it, but I’ve no intention of discussing it.
* Sometimes I seriously think I could save everyone else the bother and just be my own troll.