Being an asshole

We all know that one person: the one who always has a negative word or 10 about someone or something; who can’t let someones mistake slide without cutting them down to size with a timely jab; whose behavior is off-putting in most social situations; who has to be the center of attention based on a need born out of selfish mixed with insecurity.

This person is an asshole, and not only are they growing in number, they are encouraged to multiply.

There are many ways to describe the type of person who can be called an asshole: jerk; ninny; jackass; nincompoop (heh… “poop”…). But the definition of this slang word is comparable: a stupid, mean, or contemptible person.

Assholes come from different gender, social, economic and racial backgrounds. Their cultivation knows no color or creed. However, they do not know certain boundaries of etiquette or respect.

Take, for instance, an average day in your life: you wake up to the radio (that old-timey thing that noises come out of), a shock jock whose personality and ratings are based on making fun of people — including those on their staff or their employer; the drivers who cut you off or ride your bumper on the highway; the co-worker who loudly makes fun of someone’s verbal error in a meeting; the angry customer at Burger King who makes an employee’s mistake a personal matter; the customer service person on the phone that curtly deals with your request before shuffling you to the next worker. There are reasons, motivations, and reactions for, of and to this behavior, and they are all derived from and an answer to selfish motives.

Speaking of assholes…

We can’t see what came before your encounter with this person, their life that led to that point. Their upbringing and subsequent family lives, their jobs, economic, social status may hamper their reactions to the outside world and their interpersonal interactions as a result. And a lack of accountability for their behavior and positive reactions only encourage continued and broader examples of those responses.

There is a common belief that cultures glorify what is the ideal. And though people are generally good in nature, there are those properties of being human — anger, greed, jealousy, lust — that cloud judgment and behavior, particularly in the company of others and/or with anonymity, and I am as guilty as anyone else. Does the phrase “angry mob” ring a bell? Check out the comment section of YouTube or AICN.com for delightful remarks towards articles, videos and other people.

We have role models in society whose wealth and celebrity are based on their greed and manipulation of others. There are forms of entertainment geared towards engaging in crass and rude behavior. Pop culture has a Thunderdome of mean-spirited expression: Schadenfreude, satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune. Perez Hilton. Jezebel.com. Dlisted.com. What Would Tyler Durden Do. These are only a few examples of those who make money through cutting down others with comments and imagery that would make Jesus facepalm.

Jesus just saw another one of Perez Hilton’s penis doodles.

Much of this is done for a laugh. Some are a temporary remedy to boost ones self-esteem. Some feel remorse after a few minutes; others revel in the behavior like a pig in muck.

But why? Why are we worshiping behavior that flies in the face of what we (or some) are taught is harmful and mean? Perhaps there is the need to shore up one’s insecurities by preying on weaker people. Maybe there is a level of jealousy that is relieved when celebrating the mistakes of the more wealthy, powerful, intelligent or capable.

The thing is, the person on the other end does not know what provokes that assholish behavior; they only interpret the gossip or activity — behind their back, within earshot or to their face. Someone with healthy self-esteem can brush off the assaults and move on, but how many people do you know that can be identified as having a good sense of self (not to be mistaken with arrogance)? And whether you are delivering or receiving the brunt of the attack, can you say that you honestly feel good about yourself in the heat of the moment.

I would point to the idea of treating people the way they want to be treated, but I would be called an old fart or a fag. Too bad, as it would put a damper on this problem. And with a growing magnification of the rich, social elite and famous (no matter how or why) by our culture, this problem will continue to exist. And while an occasional outburst of cheeky behavior is human, a constant barrage is just being an asshole. And we all know what comes out of that: poop.

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