Are You Really Fighting the Power or Just Being Stroppy?

I learned the word “stroppy” when I lived in England. Great word.

The word is often used in the phrase “stroppy teenager,” to denote a bad-tempered, grumbly kid who doesn’t like anything. We all know the type.

Some stroppy teenagers turn into stroppy adults. We all know the type: touchy, belligerent, easily annoyed, and difficult to deal with. It’s a common personality type, and if some corners of the social media sphere are to be believed, a lifestyle choice.

From social media to three-dimensional life, stroppy people are common.  We are all stroppy at times; life happens. But being stroppy isn’t helpful; it isn’t constructive. Being annoyed and snarking at people may get us some temporary attention, but it doesn’t change anything. That’s why it’s so easy for stroppy people to stay stroppy and wallow in their bad-tempered attitude toward the world.

It’s being stroppy as a lifestyle choice that is the subject of my thoughts today, specifically those people who think they are somehow being revolutionary, when they are instead being bad-tempered, grumbly kids. Being stroppy is different from having righteous anger. There are injustices in the world, and there are some serious problems in society. If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention.

If you care about justice and other people, you develop a healthy righteous anger. Righteous anger motivates positive, constructive (and deconstructive) actions.

Being stroppy is caring only about your own complaints, and feeling your own complaints trump other people and their perspectives, experiences, and rights. Stroppiness does not motivate positive, constructive actions. At best, it motivates only destructive actions.

Why am I going on about this? Because too many people are mistaking being stroppy for righteous anger. I wrote earlier about the Fake Left, and they are examples of this. More broadly, being stroppy, especially online, is what passes for activism. Keyboard warriors taking offense at so much, posting their belligerence at others, and upvoting each others’ stroppy annoyances may feel they are doing something. They aren’t. They aren’t even making themselves feel better. They just stay stroppy.

You don’t fight the power by being stroppy. You overcome injustice by building up people and working to deconstruct unjust structures. You can’t grumble away or even shout away those structures. Change takes hard work, and stroppiness is just laziness. Don’t pretend otherwise.


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