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[personal profile] angelofthenorth asked about Drama - where be llamas?. This is prompt I've been thinking about quite a lot in the intervening weeks, partly because I'm scared that writing a post could itself be a source of drama. But also partly because I think it's an interesting question.

I can very much see the temptation to drama. On an emotional level I love gossip, and I have to work really quite hard (and not always successfully) not to indulge in it to a point where it's harmful and inappropriate. And I love feelling like I and my friends are important, making a big emotional deal out of something that in the grand scheme of things doesn't matter. But actually drama for the sake of drama makes everything worse, it's much better avoided.

Where are the llamas, then? (PS [personal profile] jack told me this post would not be improved by including the llama song while I'm on the subject of metaphorical llamas.) I do try to distance myself from people who like the emotional hit of making a huge great deal of every little thing more than they hate the annoying social consequences. I think one big red flag is people who have a really strong need for love and validation from everybody. Because putting lots of effort into making yourself appealing to the people around you is one thing, but it's commonly correlated with getting really unmanageably upset if anyone ever crosses you in any way. Another is over-sharing, people who fall over themselves to tell you really personal things like their medical or trauma history on first acquaintance, it's not always consciously manipulative but it does suggest seeking a kind of emotional bond in a way that's not really negotiated or consensual.

Oh, and I really dislike some mostly internet habits, though the equivalents exist in person too like saying mean things about someone in a place where they can see it, but not naming them. Subtweeting, cryptic posts or status updates about "the kind of people who" when that kind includes people who may recognize themselves. Talking about people behind their back, or under lock, can be done intentionally and carefully as a way to vent while avoiding drama, but it can also be more or less deliberate drama spreading.

As soon as I started to think about this, though, I also started to worry about the problems associated with being massively negative about drama. Even using the mocking term drama-llama can be part of the problem. Partly I think because there's a lot of sexism in what kinds of communication are assumed to be valid factual information exchange and which are "just" gossip or drama. And there's the potential for ableism too, if people have fairly easy straightforward lives and an intuitive grasp of social conventions, it's easy enough for them to stick to appropriate small-talk until they know people well. Whereas oversharing may just come from people literally finding it hard to judge what's appropriate, or from the fact that if you have non-standard needs sometimes the only way for them to be met is to tell people about them and it's far too easy and too common to dismiss that as just attention seeking and making drama.

And being all self-righteous about not wanting drama is a really common way that social groups end up protecting predators and abusers at the expense of their victims. It's all very well to expect people to be able to be socially civil with people they've had bad fights with, especially romantic break-ups. But sometimes the fight or break-up has happened because one person was abusing the other, and it's traumatizing or actively unsafe for the survivor to be around their abuser. And telling everybody what went on can be "drama" because it's oversharing, most people don't want to know the detail about somebody's experiences of abuse, let alone that the survivor might well not want to have to keep on reliving the story all the time in order to be "allowed" to avoid the person who hurt them. Whereas not saying anything can be mistaken for "drama" too, because it seems like the person is being immature and causing a load of social awkwardness for no good reason.

So I suppose I try not to act in ways that cause drama, and I try to avoid getting sucked in to drama, even though it can be emotionally rewarding in some ways. But I also try to take people seriously and not leap to the conclusion that a serious problem that needs help and support is "just" drama. It's a very difficult line to walk and I know I get it wrong more often than I'd like.

[December Days masterpost]
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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