Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Grievance is Golden

I amuse myself by trying to observe post-Covid psychological skews. Most existed pre-Covid, as well, but have mushroomed into far greater prevalence. Here are previous postings tagged "Post-covid narcissism".

A few years ago, I bumped into a friend and his lavishly neurotic wife.

I don't remember the prelude, but I'd offered some observation she happened not to agree with, and she gave me a right proper chewing out, tying this latest Wrong Thinking into a succession of my previous transgressions. Having found me resolutely "guilty" at trial-by-mouth, she grasped the very idea of me - the notional proposition of my life project - and firmly stubbed it out on the rough concrete floor like a Pall Mall beneath her heel. I had been viciously put to death via the unusually cruel punishment of unbridled mouthy pique.

Once the tirade died down, and I'd offered my sardonic "bravo", she explained that her mother had died the previous month (vulnerable for a moment!) and that she's simply not able to handle any shit - ANY SHIT - at all, and (oh, no; it reignites!) here I come, with my shit, yet again, always my shit, my god-damned shit, and....

Before the fit could fully re-percolate, I cut her off.

Very quietly and calmly, I informed her that my mom had died the previous month, as well.

No. No. Bad. No.

There is no redemption. This is a redemption-free land. Never count on redemption. The evidence that I could be in comparable pain without lashing out was not just dismissed; it had further inflamed her. I'd committed the most loathsome offense: undercutting her grievance. Oh, good lord, you must never do that. It's unforgivable.

Her husband somehow pulled her away, like a pitbull from a burglar. Thank goodness the leash held, or I might have had chunks scraped off my face. How could I be so callously insensitive as to pull some judo move about how my mother died with SOMEONE WHOSE MOTHER DIED???

Allow me to sum up the framing:
My pain is the worst pain. My pain is the only pain. I don't want to hear about your pain. You CHALLENGE me by citing your pain. How DARE you cite your pain, when you can plainly see I'm in pain! You are rudely INTERRUPTING THE FUCKING PERFORMANCE!!!!!!
People flamboyantly displaying their pain and victimhood are putting on a show, and it's their show - their time to shine! - not yours. You are audience. You are a non-player character. Stay in your lane!

Coming around to my point, I used to see this periodically from people who, in a previous generation, might have been termed "emotionally disturbed." Later, such folks became mainstreamed, and eventually perhaps even admired for their spleeny excess. But, post-Covid, I see this behavior almost daily. Horrid behavior pugnaciously justified (explicitly or implicitly - you can easily smell it even if they don't verbally announce it) by "I have problems!" What was once a euphemism (for being a little cuckoo for cocoa puffs) has become an entitlement.

It's notable that "I have problems" people would never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever consider - much less inquire about - your problems. If they cared one bit about your problems - or even recognized you as a full-out fellow life form - they wouldn't behave this way. That would be an entirely different world. A world where other people have actual problems might compel some consideration and self-restraint. And that is, quite evidently, not the world we're presently in.

Everyone with flamboyant problems is the only person with problems. Everyone in flamboyant pain is the only person in pain. And they won't hesitate to create problems and generate pain for others because not having to worry about, or respect, or even fully register other people is the entitlement of having problems and being in pain. That's the perq! In the inimitable words of the great Rod Blagojevich, “I've got this thing, and it's golden!”

That Blagojevich quote encapsulated our era. I've got this thing, and it's golden. Make the "thing" any sort of grievance, and...well, it's golden!

Postscript: I think what I'm describing here is actual narcisissm ("I register your point of view, but mine totally supercedes") rather than egocentricity ("I can't even see your point of view"), per the distinction I've been musing.

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