Recently while cruising Facebook this post pops up. Seller states “television for sale for $ 25.00”. Respondent replies “I would like to buy this for $20.00”. A third person enters the conversation “Drama I’m out of this group.” Seriously, this person considers a negotiation as drama. More and more the word drama is being thrown around in all kinds of contexts.
As a therapist this is concerning. It seems as if any conversation involving feelings, difference of opinion and emotional content is labeled drama. The term drama is being used as a shaming label to control conversations.
What??? You may ask. How does saying something is drama control a conversation? Let’s walk through a few conversations in which drama was used to control a conversation to see how it works.
The first situation is between two people, who used to be in a relationship. They have a child together. This child spends equal amounts of time between both parents. On this particular spring day the parents are attending a school recital together. As much as possible these parents interact with each other with minimal conflict. Today, it was different. The father strolls into the auditorium, glances at his ex-wife, and turns away ignoring her greeting. His ex-wife had saved him a seat next to her because they have always done it this way. Knowing she would have time later to discuss her hurt feelings with her ex-husband she puts on her happy face for her children. After the school recital she walks to see her child, who is standing by her ex-husband. She greets him kindly while telling her child what a good job he did. Her ex-husband turns his back to her. Confused and feeling hurt by this strange turn of events she walks in tears. The next day she calls her ex-husband to tell him how hurt she was by his behavior. Previously they had agreed to be civil to each other when they had to interact in public with their child. She says to her husband “my feelings were hurt when you ignored me when I waved to you, and walked up to say hello”. Instead of talking about how this experience could be different in the future he accuses her of being full of drama. The conversation completely breaks down.
Did you notice what happened when the word drama was introduced into the conversation? The ex-husband avoided discussing the situation. He, also, escaped acknowledging her feelings and acknowledging his behavior might have been out of line.
Ideally in this situation the ex-husband would have said I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. Then, he would explain to his ex-wife why his behavior was different than before. By using the word drama he escaped having to reveal anything about himself to her. This is controlling the conversation.
In the post from Facebook it was clear the third person who commented on the post was unable to handle healthy conflict. Conflict is necessary in relationships. It is not drama. Conflict can deepen a relationship for compromise and allowing oneself to be vulnerable to another is necessary for intimacy.
When the word “drama” is used in your next conversation ask yourself “why is the person trying to control this conversation?” Are they afraid to be vulnerable or afraid of feelings? In this way the word drama becomes more about the other’s inability to engage in a health conversation than you.