Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Okay, Fine, You Win

Something is terribly wrong in our culture. Competition is rampant, with everyone intent on beating "the others." The terrifying number of TV shows based on this human need is proof: losing weight, singing, dancing, designing clothing, baking cakes, making business deals and cooking have been turned into competitive sports with winners and losers. Then of course there are the old-fashioned quiz shows where you just have to be smarter, or these days stupider, to win. And after you win, then what? You might get a cash prize, or your own show, or just gloating rights among your peers.

Gloating, almost often accompanied by smugness, is surely the least attractive human activity, and one with which I deal daily. I play Scrabble online with a fervent gloater, and he's a downright pain in the ass. Even if he wins by just one point, still he must make sure I noticed that HE WON!!!!!!!!! Naturally one can infer that I lost, but still he often points that out too, in case I did not do the math.

It's not just games and sports and such; people also gloat over how much better their lives are than yours. One of my neighbors has three children and many siblings living nearby. She delights in delivering unsolicited information like, "We had 22 people at the dinner table last night," even though she knows that I am usually home alone eating a solitary meal, or maybe Mitch is in town and it's just the two of us, or maybe our only child is here too and then there are three. Still, she keeps me apprised on her busy family's activities and how many there are of them attending this or that exciting happening or event, for which she is often scurrying off to prepare for the descending hordes. I once liked this woman, but her tiresome and transparent gloating has given me direct access into her well of insecurity, and it's deep and bubbling. I hate that in a friend.

Please don't use what you perceive to be my pathetic life to feel better about your own. And just because you were successful in something, somewhere, don't feel compelled to share the news with me. Just savor it yourself, bask in your own glory, and grow from the experience.

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