Friday, September 14, 2007

So gay, so retarded: a memorandum

Only recently, I discovered, through a link at Amanda's blog, the odd and irreverent, often disturbing world of the website The point of this site is to post those notes found in workplaces, apartment buildings and other shared spaces, directing others on how to behave in a more civil manner. Often the notes are things that really do need to be said, but being aimed toward specific persons, might best be said more directly. Commenters rate the notes for originality and scrutinize them for grammar, style and spelling errors. Whether or not a note fits even the site's very generous definition of passive aggression is a frequent topic of debate; often the person who contributes the PA note to the site is deemed more PA than the note's writer.
My fascination with Passive Aggressive Notes has much to do with my own, admittedly often indirect, style of communication. Much of what I say in this blog might better be directed at the individuals who have offended. Sometimes I do that; sometimes I don't. Sometimes I rationalize that the message is needed by many people beyond just the one who has recently said or done something prejudiced or otherwise offensive. The likelihood that I am correct in this belief does not negate the fact that I have also rationalized, especially if I have not directly confronted the person who said for example, "that is so retarded!" And at times I have not.
As a person who communicates far better in writing than through the more popular spoken word, I often give myself a pass on this one. Whether or not this is an accommodation I truly need or a passive aggressive act varies from one situation to another, depending on factors only I can adequately judge.
In the style and spirit of, then, a communication to my fellow students:
(Click to enlarge)
I've included a few favorite PAN themes here--underlining, excessive punctuation, etc. to get things started.


  1. "Forthwith" is always appropriate.

  2. Bev, you are wonderful. And I am going to have to check out passiveaggressivenotes!

  3. In my son's school they have an anti-homophobia sign that has "That's so gay" in one of those red circles with the line through it. Sounds like you could use one.

  4. Too funny! I will check out that site, too. I have noticed that my aspie mother always communicates touchy things via email, and then last week my 7 y.o. ASD daughter asked me to please go to my laptop. Then she went to the computer in the other room and typed me an email about something she felt "was not fair!!!" It completely cracked me up that she needed to communicate with me that way. It filled me with such love for her sweet autistic little soul.

  5. bink,
    Awesome story. I love it.

    I wonder if I can get that on a t-shirt?

    Thanks, you are pretty terrific yourself.

    Where is my overcoat? Please send it forthwith!

  6. I think the PS This Means You!! definitely takes the note to passive-aggressive land.

    I showed this site to my daughter last year when she had suite-mates who were not very nice and left the notes everywhere. For everyone, they didn't talk with people they didn't like.

    I wish she had taken some pictures of some the notes. mean, rude girls!!

  7. Hey! That [click to enlarge] does NOT work - talk about inconsiderate!!

    Yes, that's MY nose print on the screen.

    You can keep your psychobabble missy!!!

  8. I'm so sorry Ms. McEwen. I have no idea why some of my jpeg images don't do the tricks they are supposed to do. Believe me, I am seriously, seriously disappointed in myself for this transgression.

  9. This is by far the best PA note I've seen...cracked me up AND serves an important purpose. I get SO frustrated by how many times I hear both these words from students in a graduate psychology program!!! I swear I think it should be grounds for expulsion!

  10. it would be great if our community took words on more agressively. this is a great post!

  11. "That's so gay" <-- has gone from offensive to being simply annoying. At this point I realuse that it mostly comes out of the mouthes of those who are very ignorant about what "gay" is. I'm almost at the point of beyond being annoyed to the point of compassion. Feeling a bit sorry for those who use that expression. I have noticed that they are mostly uneducated. I hate to seem elitist. It just seems to be the evolution of my perception of the term. Almost as though it has lost what might have been its original intent.

    So, now, when I hear it, it almost translate to: "Look at me. See what an utter clueless fool I am."


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