Has “Petty Culture” Taken Over?

“Oh the shade!” “I can’t stand her…she’s a toxic piece of trash.” “Girl, I can’t believe he said that! He is cancelled!” “I’m about to be real petty.”

 via GIPHY

I heard phrases like this all through 2018, and they don’t show any promise of disappearing from the 2019 lexicon. I’ll admit, I love watching shows like Love & Hip Hop (in all of the cities), and the Housewives franchise just as much as anyone else. But I have noticed that much of the lingo and catch phrases deployed by the women of reality TV have worked their way into the everyday conversations of women who are NOT being paid to stir up drama and create a pop culture moment. As Carrie Bradshaw would put it, I can’t help but to wonder if society is at a precipice: Can we turn back from embracing “cancel & shade culture” where cattiness and the ability to turn a quick phrase is rewarded, or will we embrace empathy, brother & sisterhood, and deeper relationships?

Shady Shady

I get it. Shade throwing can be fun, and highly satisfying. You don’t need to know how to fight or throw blows; you just need a quick wit. Although throwing shade is an art, it can be mastered, and you’ll have a ready weapon in your arsenal of defense mechanisms. But is it needed? Shade throwing will warrant you a bunch of “ooooh’s” and “lol’s” from those in hearing distance, but is it worth it when you see the face of the person you just ripped to shreds? I’ve hit a few people with a clever turn of a phrase, and I felt vindicated in the moment, but utterly convicted afterward, to the point where I had to apologize to the individuals for my actions. I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit will call me out on my mess, but I’m worried that the current trends are becoming cold and heartless, and that society is condoning it. On the other hand, I get that shade culture is non-violent, and that a lot of people have developed their shade throwing skills out of necessity due to being walked over, or mistreated in life. It can be kind of hard to shame anyone who realizes their quick wit is a source of protection.  I just think that shadiness is best used for strategic defense, and should not be a frequent offensive tactic used to get a few retweets or a shout out on TSR. I also think that as a general rule, shade should never be thrown about sensitive subjects such as illnesses, death, disabilities, and should be limited in the corporate setting.

Petty Petty

A few years ago, I stumbled across a Facebook video of the children’s cartoon character Pepa Pig engaging in behavior that many people felt was “petty.” This video was shared, viewed, and retweeted by millions of people (myself included).  One of my favorite female comediennes, Jasmine Luv, gets tons of views and subscribers from her videos, in many of which she depicts characters engaging in petty behavior. I laugh at these videos just as much as the next person, but at its core, petty behavior is not pretty. Back in my day, being called petty was a scathing insult, but today it is a badge of honor. The thing about pettiness is that it is devoid of empathy: You do or say what you feel without regard for anyone’s feelings but your own. It is a very “I’m going to get you before you get me” passive aggressive communication style.   I’m not here to condemn anyone who enjoys being petty, but I do think pettiness should not be a default mode. If your initial response could be deemed petty, it’s OK to reevaluate how you handle a situation.

Funny, but can be hurtful.

So What’s Next?

I hope that as 2019 progresses, we get back to developing deeper, authentic connections and relationships with others. Social Media has allowed petty and shade culture to thrive, because comments that effectively use either usually go viral, or at a minimum can be worth a couple hundred followers. One shady comment can hurt or embarrass someone tremendously, so is it worth it? I’m embracing the ideals of kindness and sisterhood this year, and being mindful of comments that I post, share, or retweet. Let me know your take on petty and shady behavior! Add your voice to the discussion in the comments below.


See you next time!

*Photos from collage credited to VH1/Viacom*


Fashion, Lifestyle, and Travel blogger, based in NC.

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