This is a time that calls for kindness, but it’s also a time that calls for blowing off steam by talking shit about people. But with the hot new trend of empathy and understanding for others, it’s harder than ever to get some good-old-fashioned snark out of your system without looking like a total asshole. Luckily, there are a few neat little perfunctory phrases you can toss out there to demonstrate that you’re a kind, caring individual…right before venomously judging others behind their backs.
“You KNOW I love her, but…”
Simple. Elegant. A lie, but unprovable. This qualification casts you as an ally to the person you’re about to verbally ream beyond recognition. You can also claim to “adore her,” “think the world of her,” or even that you “would die for her”— whatever it takes to give yourself permission to comment on how weird Jessica’s energy has been lately. It’s a WEIRD energy, right?
“Clearly she’s going through a lot right now, but…”
When someone has recently endured tragedy or hardship, it is absolutely essential to put yourself in their shoes and give them leeway. Short of that, it’s at least essential to act like you’re putting yourself in their shoes and give off the vibe of leeway. Then you can transition straight to commiserating about what a human dumpster fire Jessica has become. Sorry, but someone has to say it.
“Obviously we’re all struggling with everything going on, but…”
This one serves a convenient double purpose. On top of performing sympathy for the shit-talkee, you’re also subtly saying: “listen, nobody is thriving right now—what’s her excuse?” Plus, by referring to the combination of the pandemic, white supremacist uprisings, and general ongoing suffering as “everything going on,” you’re ensuring your fellow shit-talker won’t get distracted by those subjects, and instead can dive head-first into commenting on how much of a fucking mess Jessica is right now. A total fucking mess and everyone knows it but her!
“Of course capitalism is bullshit and our worth shouldn’t be judged by our ability to be productive, but…”
Bonus points here for the casual reminder that you’re a socialist—apropos of nothing—just seconds before wondering aloud why Jessica can’t get her shit together long enough to complete even the most basic fucking tasks. Like, her job is literally just sending emails, how hard could it be?
“Listen, at the end of the day, it’s impossible to truly know how many of our actions are based upon free will, and how many are simply uncontrollable consequences of our brain chemistry. That being said…”
Once you’ve agreed that the upcoming conversation is underscored by a deterministic worldview ascribing little-to-no agency not just to Jessica, but to any human being—that’s when you can really feel free to shit all over Jessica for straight-up dropping the ball on life. But we love her, she’s going through a lot, and we’re all struggling with everything going on.
Remember: The last thing you want is for other people to talk shit about you just because you wanted to talk shit about other people. That just wouldn’t be fair! Now get out there and be kind, sort of!