Friday, February 1, 2019

Why Are People Assholes? (A Mostly Rhetorical Question)

One of my friends is grieving.  She's going through a major loss, and although she is very guarded with her emotions, I can see that she is hurting deeply.  I wish there were something I could do to take the pain away, but as is usually the case, all I can offer is a sympathetic ear, words of compassion, and an endless supply of hugs.  Nothing, and everything.

I hate when people suffer.  I've dedicated my working life to doing what I can to minimize suffering, and I try in all my interactions with people to be kind.  To not add anything further to the burdens that people already carry.  So when I see people acting cruelly, I am overwhelmed by the question "why?".  Why do billionaires underpay their employees and not allow them bathroom breaks?  Why do teenagers beat up homeless people?  Why do jerks go onto Twitter and attack perfectly wonderful personal finance bloggers about their decisions to buy new cars?

Is it just a failure of empathy?  A failure to see the humanity of the other person and give a shit about what they're going through?  And, if it is, how do people get so broken that they don't care about the pain they cause others?


  1. I have often found it is an effort to make themselves feel better about themselves in totally bass ackwards way. I have never understood jealousy or the need to tear someone down so that one can feel better. If I want a new car, I need to work for a new car. In the meantime, I'm happy for my friend to have a new car and get rides in it as often as I can. It is a sick world we live in.

  2. I am totally with you again. I try to be kind and understanding and a good friend to those who need it, but there always seems to be one asshole that does their best to ruin everything. While we can all do without them, there is no legal way to get rid of them. I don't know if they can be shamed because they seem to have none and other than ignoring them what else can we do?

  3. I hate that it seems to be such a constant in human nature, surely we can grow to stop being such horrible people, can't we?

  4. I suspect the vast majority of people don't act like assholes intentionally. But there is that minority who does! Both degrade the quality of human existence though.

  5. Honestly, I think a decent percentage of it is driven by mental disorders: ones that are either wholly undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or poorly controlled.

    I also think that a lot of it comes from people who believe the worst of others and who perceive their own actions as justified reactions to whatever offense they think has been committed against them. Or who think that if they're in a bad mood for whatever reasons, they're justified in spreading the negativity.

    I don't think it's that they can't see the humanity in others. It's that they've put themselves into a mental place where they believe that they're in the right.

  6. Sociopaths gonna sociopath.

    As a result they often climb the corporate latter or start their own businesses where they can ultimately get lots of power. And surprise, they continue to be sociopaths.

    I remember reading an article not too long ago about bullies and sociopaths, etc. And the researcher talked about how they saw in their experimental research on these types of people, that part of their brain lights up when they see their target suffer. They get some perverse pleasure in harming people.

    Until we find a magic way to fix these assholes, we're unfortunately stuck with them.