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(I typically don’t use vulgarity in my writing, but at times, there are few words that provide the same impact. Indulge me for just a minute.)
I’ve had this theory for a while now – that our society is becoming increasingly overwhelmed by a**holes because we have far less in-person communication than ever before, therefore requiring less dependency on, and empathy for, one another. Simultaneously, this causes some to find it harder to be noticed and have their narcissistic egos stroked regularly, requiring them to do whatever it takes to get the attention they crave.
It turns out lots of people have this theory, or at least opinion. A Google search produces over 70 million results when querying, “why are there more a**holes?”
So why, then?
The long and short of it is that I guess it doesn’t really matter why. Social media, smart phones, blah blah blah… Lots of nice people use Twitter and iPhones. What matters is what turns some people into a**holes?
It’s true that narcissists are incredibly insecure. They have a real fear of not being noticed, not being talked about, not being the most interesting person in the room. Of becoming irrelevant. This is why they’re often excessive in how they live, dress, behave.
But not everyone who acts like an a**hole is a narcissist.
Sometimes, it’s just plain old fear that turns people into a**holes. The fear of rejection, of being hurt, or of being disappointed.
There are some who have been hurt so badly in their past that they vow to never again let another person control their happiness. They become someone who will never again put another person before themselves. This is commonly the serial dater, “player” type of a**hole.
Other a**holes are those who have found that life has become a competition, one that’s really, really hard to win. But they’re determined to come out ahead. Wherever “ahead” might be.
These are folks who may have been “nice guys” or “team players” in the past, but what was really going on is that they were “walked all over” and put up with too much crap for far too long and they finally snapped.
There is likely an a**hole instinct we’ve carried in our genetic make-up for thousands of years. One that ensures our survival by helping us understand when real danger is present. I suppose an aggressive person’s chances of survival are probably higher when out in the wild, versus someone who would cower by the nearest tree and worry.
Today, however, the a**holes we’re encountering are people like the jealous colleague who hates the fact that you’ve lost 25 pounds, the prick who cuts in front of the line, and the jerk who won’t get off of his phone in the movie theater.
We could try to be empathetic.
The jealous woman hates that she struggles with her weight. The line cutter fears not being seen as “the most important person”. The movie theater guy knows he’s pompous but he wants to challenge you to disrespect him, because respect is what he craves the most.
There are myriad books written on the topic of dealing with these folks. Drawing boundaries, coping skills, confrontational skills, understanding them, engaging them, not engaging them, getting away from them, firing them, hiring them, getting them help, recognizing their demons for what they are, and so on.
My only advice is, don’t become one of them.
Don’t open the door for fear to worm its way in and claim your address. No one likes an a**hole.