Friday, April 22, 2011

Shit That's Really Starting to Get on My Nerves, Part VI: Trollin' for Pity on the Interwebz

Something's getting a little out of hand on Facebook and Twitter.

...Okay, lots of things are getting out of hand on there, including Facebook and Twitter themselves, but today I would like to focus on one particular thing, most commonly known as pity-baiting.

This is not a new phenomenon; pity-baiting, or the act of lamenting one's misery and life situation in order to court another's sympathy, has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. I'm pretty sure Jesus said something along the lines of, "I sure feel alone right now..." at the last supper so that one of the disciples would respond, "Hunnie, what's wrong?" It's in the book of Matthew, I think. Somewhere. Anyway, the point is that pity baiting, though it pre-dates social networking sites, has reached an unprecedented level of obnoxiousness. Because pity-baiters post more than everyone else, and because they're usually the "friends" you like the least, their posts seem to litter your news feed far more than anyone you'd really want to be reading about.

The other thing about pity-baiters is that, the fewer responses they get to their statuses, the more they seem to post them. If I may speculate on the inner-workings of the pity-baiting mind, I imagine that the thought process goes something like this:

I can't believe that no one responded to my post. It's as if they don't care that I'm going through a bitter divorce at the same time I get diagnosed with eczema. Perhaps I was too subtle. I'll post again. I'll say, "I wish someone would just understand," and that will make them wonder what's going on, and whoever really cares about me will take the time to ask. Then I'll know who my friends really are.

Here is a sampling of some tweets written by a former co-worker, just in the last three weeks or so, listed in reverse chronological order:

Tired of the games its time to cut some people off.
Guess I'll get ready for bed #solame [Note: "solame" translates to "only me" or "me alone"].
Every time I open up, people give me a reason to shut down.
So much on my mind I wish I had an outlet but instead I'll sleep.
I'm bored.
My life is consumed by pain.
I am at church four days a week and still need serious saving.
I'm feeling a certain kind of way, and its not a good thing.
I wish I could just disappear.

Of course, she tweets these things, which are automatically uploaded onto Facebook as well, so they appear twice. Typically, no one takes the bait, but when they do, their "what's wrong?" questions either receive a vague response or none at all.

For me, the above mentioned is perhaps the most maddening part of the pity-baiting process. These people state their problems, sometimes taking the time to describe even complex emotions, knowing full well that this is all public information, but don't bother to answer when they get exactly what they want: someone to ask "what?" or "why?". Perhaps they feel self-conscious because they set up an expectation of something like a cancer diagnosis when they're really just behind on credit card payments. Perhaps they realize that, in fact, they don't really want their co-workers, former third grade classmates, and eleventh cousins to know that their significant other cheated or that they were demoted at work.

Perhaps letting people know what's actually wrong is beside the point; just alerting them to your suffering and possibly making the right ones feel guilty for it is enough.

Update: Literally one day after posting about my annoying, pity-baiting Facebook friend, I logged on to find this:

Pity-Baiting Friend: I am not very hapy right now
Friend of PBF: Why?
PBF: Ppl are frustrating
[end of conversation]

Ladies and gentlemen, case and point.


  1. Very true. I have a few of "those" types on my friends list on Facebook. I don't cut them off because it is funny to watch them wallow in the pity and I make fun of them.

  2. Oh, man. As a teenager, pity-baiting is SO common, it pisses me off. Either someone is posting really depressing lyrics or writing their own "emo" form of poetry, which not only freaks me out in the "shit, are you thinking of SUICIDE" way, but also makes me want to knee some gonads when I hear a "oh, nothing."

  3. @OT: Indeed. I love to laugh at them.

    @Lemons: Hehe, knee some gonads. (Oh, and welcome to PT, by the way.)


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