As the Ancient Mayans might have once said,
“Talk shit, get hit.”
Did Jenn get cheated on (again) after you told her that this guy wasn’t any good for her?
Did that girl at the bar totally diss your friend Dan, even after you told him he was being way too cocky?
Is it just super annoying how Sara is always talking about herself and doesn’t think about others and is seriously the biggest bitch you know and you don’t know why you’re even friends with her?
Oh. Uh… Ok.
You’ve probably questioned yourself about things like these before, to your friends or to strangers, and have classified it as “venting”, but the truth of the matter is, the line between venting and just plain shit talking is getting so blurry that everyone is going to need to see their optometrists real soon.
We have started to play off the idea of talking badly about our friends as “venting”, using the word as a euphemism when in reality, the things we are saying are pretty brutal.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with honesty and brutality. The truth hurts. If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen, etc. However, if you’re going to talk shit, then own up to it. If you’re hiding behind the concept of “venting” though, you are not worthy of having friends (your mom and your dog do not count as ‘friends’).
You may be thinking that what I’m talking about is so high school, that mature adults don’t need to read posts like this because adults don’t talk shit or vent! But as a wise and Clueless Cher once said,
Everyone does it. Whether you’re letting out a passive aggressive rant about your boyfriend or talking about how incompetent your best friend is, it happens. Unless you are perfect. To which I ask that you please email me privately and teach me your ways of life.
Now I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, nor am telling you not to vent about your friends if they do something vent-worthy. Venting in itself can be really therapeutic in any given situation. If your girlfriend cheated on you, you may feel better by calling her a filthy wench to your friends! If your friend is late picking you up, per usual, you may feel better by shaking your fist and making a sarcastic and passive aggressive comment on how he has a few things in common with your girlfriend’s period. What. Oops. Just kidding.
However, this is where I draw the line:
When you say something about your friend that changes how others feel about your friend, you’ve gone too far.
What do I mean by that? Well, if you’re upset that John is late picking you up for something, you have every right to be. But if your anger turns into a conversation about how he is so unreliable, that he could never get the assistant job he’s been applying to because he lacks punctuality, how he is overall just slow and dumb, well, I think we can all agree that you’ve gone too far. When the person you’re venting to hears what you’re saying about John and realizes that John is not really a good person to be around because he’s so disorganized, that’s when you have gone too far. Venting is supposed to be something cathartic, a crime of passion (in a sense) and something harmless. Venting is NOT supposed to be a massive shit talking session, followed by a large sigh and a, “Sorry I’m just venting.”
An easy way to detect whether or not you’re venting or shit talking is simple: could you see yourself saying the things you just said to that person’s face without he or she getting really upset? And no, you’re not allowed to give yourself the benefit of the doubt like, “No she wouldn’t get upset because she would know I’m just venting,” because that is not a viable explanation. Think long and hard, and if you come to realize that the things that you’re saying are more hurtful than helpful, my job here is done.
Partially. From there, you probably need to think before you speak, and also think how hurtful this could be if the roles were reversed, like a Freaky Friday moment, except no one gets to end up with Chad Michael Murray. Not so fun, huh?
Another approach in detecting whether or not you’re venting or talking shit is to analyze your word choice, especially among the words “frustrating” and “annoying.” In my years on this planet, I don’t think I’ve ever not been offended when called “annoying.” Annoying is something about you, a judgement of your surface level character traits that bother another person. It’s like a direct insult at how you talk, walk, or behave. I can handle “frustrating” though, for at least frustrating takes a bit of depth. You can’t be frustrated with the way someone laughs, but you can be frustrated with actions that he makes that require thought and feelings. In order to be frustrated, it is necessary to think about the situation, the person, and yourself; at least there’s thought. With annoyance, not so much. I can meet you, hear you laugh, and think it’s annoying. So when you call someone or a situation annoying rather than frustrating, I find that to be a factor of shit talking versus venting.
Also, when I hear myself say something is annoying, I can’t help but imagine a Kardashian saying it in my head and I shudder.
Venting is to give yourself a little relief when you gave your friend advice and she didn’t take it (again).
Venting is when you’re upset that your friend keeps dating that girl and gets hurt each time, and you’re frustrated because you just want him to be happy.
Venting is NOT calling your friend a bad person and talking about all of the stupid life decisions she makes.
This topic may seem trivial compared to other things in life that are actually important, like the state of our nations and Ebola and the fight for equality, but think about it. If we respected each other a little more, starting from our friendships with people who have been our friends for years, maybe, just maybe, we can work on better communication within our nations. As Mary Wollstonecraft once said (loosely guys, I’m talking a super loose interpretation), good communication is necessary in understanding equality, and equality in larger scales can only start from equality in closer settings. If we stop talking shit about our own friends, whose stopping the great leaders of the world from doing the same thing and respecting each other on an international level?
That was a bit of a stretch.
The moral of the story is stop talking shit and be a better friend.