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  • Archive for August, 2012

    Tattletales, Ratfinks, and Snitches

    2012 - 08.21

    “She pushed me in the lunch line!” “He called me a bad name!” “Jim broke curfew last night.” “Bill came back from lunch late.” “Elaine was five minutes late for work.”

    Do any of these five statements sound familiar to you? It should because they’re all tattles coming from five different ages. When I was a kid, there was always, without fail, a kid in the class who felt the need to tattle on everything the others did simply because it annoyed them. The tattler in our class soon found themselves shunned by the other children because everyone grew tired of the constant snitching to the teacher, especially when he or she didn’t get their way.

    We preach to our kids both at home and in the classroom about the evils of tattling. We try to teach our children at young ages that it is unacceptable to waste a listener’s time by complaining of the harmless actions of another individual simply because it annoys or bothers them. And in turn we tell our children that ‘no one likes a tattler’ and try to encourage them to honestly work out the problem with that person on their own.

    Unfortunately, there are simply some individuals who are completely incapable of leaving such childish behavior at that stage of their lives. They infiltrate our workplaces and become colleagues, managers, and even administrators who are always lying in wait for the perfect occasion to make someone else miserable. They pounce on the most infinitesimal infraction and run it by the guy who wears the tie in the hopes that they will bask in glory for their ingenuity.

    The truth is that there is nothing ingenious or honorable about tattling, and doing it as an adult still makes you a snitch, stool pigeon, canary, double-crosser, fink, informant, weasel, turncoat, whistle-blower, blabbermouth, betrayer, squealer, nark, and most of all a rat.

    If you are late for work, the tattler knows. If you take a paper clip from the supply room, the tattler will see it. If you post even the most minor of complaints on social networking sites, the tattler will find a way to misconstrue it. They collect information on their target through the guise of friendly behavior, and when the time is right, they run to the nearest authority figure and divulge the details of what they perceive as unacceptable behavior. They are power-hungry attention mongers who enjoy manipulating others for the sake of getting them in trouble or even fired. They chronically complain about the people around them, yet they never seem to acknowledge their own faults. In thier minds, they believe they are being helpful. The reality is that they are untrustworthy pests who need to fix the faults in their own lives rather than finding faults with everyone else. The tattler can do no wrong.

    Here’s a reality check for the adult tattler: grow up. Better yet, mind your own business. For those of us who have to endure the tattler, the best way to cope is simply not to give them anything to gripe about. Don’t be late for work. Save e-mails and other correspondence so that if the time comes where Tattletale decides to strike, you can defend yourself. And never make the tattler privy to personal information.

    We didn’t like the tattletale as children, and we sure as hell don’t like them as adults.