One moment a person is advising others to give themselves time off and ignore voicemail, the next he's saying they should burn their house down. Things can go from 0 to 100 in a heartbeat. And when they do, they end up on the subreddit r/ThatEscalatedQuickly.
Inspired by a classic meme, this online community might not be the biggest (it has 16K members) but 9 years after its creation, these folks are still active and constantly share new, surprising content. Below you will find some of their all-time most upvoted posts. Enjoy!
According to the famous internet culture catalog Know Your Meme, the quote "That escalated quickly" was originally heard in a scene from the 2004 comedy film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, in which the main character and his colleagues discuss their previous encounter of a violent midday brawl with the rival KQHS Channel 9 evening news team.
Along with many other memorable lines from the movie, Ron Burgundy's afterthought quickly spread to various comedy and movie forums, as well as comment sections under news articles and other places as a general notion that something has gone out of control quickly.
We reached out to the subreddit's moderators and one of them, u/zzcolby, was kind enough to have a friendly chat. They said that what makes a 'quick escalation' captivating are "mainly something wholesome or innocent becoming the complete opposite within a very short amount of time."
"Usually, said twist is morbid or sexual in nature," u/zzcolby told Bored Panda. "One example I remember is a post about bread hamsters that starts off focusing on how cute the designs are, before quickly devolving into graphic detail about eating them. Another popular post type are situations that start off completely normal, then instantly turn chaotic."
That Took A Turn... Masks Required
Psychologist and relationship consultant James Creighton, Ph. D., agrees that people tend to blow things out of proportion, and said there is even a predictable pattern to this phenomenon in our interaction.
"Escalation is triggered when someone feels poked, threatened, or put down," Creighton wrote in Psychology Today, adding this may be something very small when you look back at it.
"Almost immediately people go to the first escalating behavior: blaming and accusing," he continued. "One thing that starts escalation is a lot of 'you messages' — 'you did this,' 'you did that.'"
Blaming and accusing usually don't solve the conflict but leads to the second stage of escalation, which is name-calling. "In addition to calling her lazy for leaving the cap off the toothpaste, Dennis may say that Theresa is irresponsible. Theresa may call Dennis a 'bastard,' a 'jerk,' and [so on.]"
As I mentioned before, r/ThatEscalatedQuickly isn't the biggest of subreddits. However, its members revisit it regularly. "I think people like to come back because it's such a small community that's generally free of off-topic reposts," u/zzcolby explained. "The reason it's small is that it's very similar to much bigger subs like r/WhatCouldGoWrong. Strange considering the sub's name is directly taken from a famous Anchorman quote."
The moderator said that "due to it being such a small sub, the community is pretty serene and doesn't get into much in-fighting." So if that sounds like a fun setting to click around (honestly, why wouldn't it?), consider joining r/ThatEscalatedQuickly yourself!