Siberian Tigers Fighting (c/o Google Images)

Siberian Tigers Fighting (c/o Google Images)

2016-01-22 @ 11:00 CST

My apologies for the length of this post—I hope it will make the content more useful to the reader, not less.

The online Urban Dictionary is one of my “resources of last resort” in searching out information on our popular culture. I don’t recommend using that resource except as such a “last resort”. Its content reflects the increasingly vulgar, antisocial, and unspiritual nature of modern American society. That said: the fact that people “on the street”—sometimes, as it appears, with rather impressive credentials and/or positive life experiences—contribute anonymously to its definitions can make the resource unexpectedly useful at times.

At this writing, what “drama” means in our society, and how one should respond to it, has been the focus of conversation in some corners of Facebook. Ironically, Facebook is one of the best tools there is for breeding and transmitting “drama” such as the Urban Dictionary defines it. Not for nothing does a pastor I know, citing direct experience, call Facebook “Two-Facebook”. Users of Facebook acting one way In Real Life and another on Facebook, or two different ways on different parts of Facebook, pose one of Facebook’s most common problems.

At any rate, in hopes of lending clarity to the discussion of “drama”, I give the Urban Dictionary’s best “take” on the word. Now please understand: the following definition, useful as it is for understanding “drama” and related words in popular culture, is not to be applied to anyone who has genuine, deep problems—either by the person with such problems or by any onlookers.

A way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events.
Typically “drama” is used [that is, applied by or engaged in] by people who are chronically bored or those who seek attention.
People who engage in “drama” will usually attempt to drag other people into their dramatic state, as a way of gaining attention or making their own lives more exciting.
Common warning signs/risk factors of drama or a dramatic person are:

1. Having one supposedly serious problem after another.
2. Constantly telling other people about one’s problems.
3. Extreme emotionality or frequently shifting, intense emotions.
4. Claiming to have experienced negative events that are highly implausible.
5. A boring job or mundane life.
6. Making claims without sufficient evidence or a lack of detail about supposedly serious events.
7. A pattern of irrational behavior and reactions to everyday problems.

[Examples of use of the word “drama”, or of what that word represents, as given by the contributor:]

Sarah had a slight fever and mild cough. She decided to use drama, in order to receive sympathy and attention, so she told everyone she was deathly ill.
Debra lost her keys then spent four hours crying and yelling at her husband.
Mary did not answer her cell phone for an hour, so John feared that she had died in a horrible car accident.
Someone stole Steve’s can of Coke from the break room fridge, now he believes that someone at work is trying to destroy him.

by AgActual December 23, 2009

Others on Urban Dictionary, trying to explain what “drama” means in popular culture, note that 1) backstabbing, gossip, blackmail, and related negative social actions are very frequently involved with what our society calls “drama”; 2) women and teenage girls in our society increasingly thrive on that kind of “drama”; 3) there is a strong element in such severe “drama” of trying to get someone else involved in whatever argument is going on, and to get that other person to take one’s side against the other person in the argument, with partiality; 4) some contributors say sarcastically that one should “seek professional help” for an addiction to causing such “drama”, or “if all else fails”, one should “grow up”. (Radical immaturity certainly is associated with “drama” as our popular culture defines it—hence both the pieces of advice in point 4).)

There is a strong bias in the contributions as nobody singles out men as being “dramatic” in this way. But far too many men are. (Some of them are running for President this year.)

Nobody giving input to the Urban Dictionary calls trying to help others in a legitimate way, dealing with real crises in one’s life or the lives of others, telling others about a long chain of legitimate problems, or anything else which a Christian should do with or to other people, “drama”. Such edifying actions are not part of the popular definition of the word—that much needs to be made crystal clear! And while there are warnings in the Bible against getting involved—at least improperly—with that kind of “drama” in others, there are also examples and forms of encouragement for those who can make peace in such situations. I want to study those various passages to get a fuller picture before saying anything more about the biblical teaching and example.

But going beyond what the Urban Dictionary talks about, there is such a thing as denigrating the real problems of others—as if the problems were “all in their head”, being exaggerated for the sake of attention, and so on. Unfortunately, these days I hear plenty about that sort of denigration, especially by people who don’t understand anything about those who suffer from depression, PTSD, or other psychological problems. Such people often mistake the symptoms of some or all of these problems for the symptoms of immature, self-serving “drama”.

But let’s stop and think, using both “head sense” and with “heart sense”. People who are “dramatic”, in the way the Urban Dictionary would describe the problem, are so because they want to be—but nobody wants to struggle all their lives against the effects of a trauma. But to struggle against the effects of trauma is not immaturity—it is courage of the first rank. It is the human mind using its God-given capacity to seek internal balance against all opposition.

In particular, speaking of those who are traumatized through bad family relationships, the way they understand and interpret parent-child relationships especially is compromised. (I speak as a student of personality type models—this is the consistent observation I’ve made to date, about people who suffer from PTSD of this sort.) Frequently this compromises how such people deal with God on the one hand and legitimate human authority on the other, unless God intervenes. This is not immaturity—it is normal reaction to abnormal conditions.

I think that one of the ongoing crises among the faithful will be telling the difference between people with deep, legitimate problems and people who are addicted to immature, self-serving “drama”—and knowing what to do with each class of people.

(יוחנן רכב)

Categories: Culture, Daily Life, Google, Internet, Urban Dictionary | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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  1. I hope the Siberian tigers – and those who love Siberian tigers, as I do (especially the white ones) – don’t mind my using them as an example of a needless quarrel: what popular culture calls “drama”. Better in my mind to put up a radiant and beautiful (if still ferocious) image of fighting than a dark and ugly one. Maybe one could take this as a symbol of the so-called “Beautiful People” of this world causing needless “drama” – they are some of the worst offenders in this area.

  2. Dap Gene Parker

    [Johanan Rakkav], strange you have brought this up. I have been studying about “Integrity”, how we lose it and how we build it. I see you used many of the negative points of how we lose integrity. I’ve been trying to focus on the ways we build it. I looked at Christ’s life and saw that he is [the greatest biblical example] of true integrity. Everything He did while on this earth built His integrity. We need go no father than Jesus Christ in our search for what we need to do to build integrity. He has given us in His word the right habits, actions, characteristics, and attributes we all need in order to grow to be like Him and like God in God’s Family.

    • For every positive attribute of Godly character, of course, there is a negative attribute. Here I sought to define some of the negative ones. If this present evil world still sees some biblically negative attributes as shameful, then we as Christians need to pay attention all the more.

      It occurred to me, after writing this post, that some things Paul and Peter described as happening from house to house and in the public squares, are now being done on the social media (such as Facebook). But that is for another post at another time…maybe more than one.

  3. That was clearly well written and I thank you for stating that those of us who live daily in some world of our PTSD, aren’t there because we want to be. Our lives are drama, but the main actors are our abusers past and present.
    Thank you for writing this.
    PS as far as the Siberian Tigers go, I’d surely hate to think of them as the “beautiful people,” only because God created them with a specific purpose in mind. And would hate to see them put in a class they don’t belong.
    But that is just my heart felt feeling. I appreciate your heartfelt effort to bring clarity to a sad situation.
    ❤ Yisraela

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