I was thinking about former XFL star (if that’s not an oxymoron) Rod Smart – infamous for placing on his jersey, instead of his name, the slogan “He Hate Me” – apparently Rod’s perception of how his opponents viewed him: “You know, you go out and you’re so good, and you hurt your opponent, and it’s like, ‘They hate me. He hate me.’”
Now, putting to the side the question of how anyone who’s best option was playing in the XFL can speak with such complacency about being “so good” – what’s with the automatic assumption that your opponent hates you or is envious of you because of your greatness? Can’t he just . . . admire you, or fear you, or not care one way or the other about you as a person rather than an opponent?
You notice the same thing in hip-hop culture; reference after reference to critics who attack the rapper because “they’re just jealous;” accusing your rivals and detractors of “hating” you because you’re such a “player.” Can’t they just criticize (or even hate) you because they don’t like you, or disagree with you?
I ask because though I run into a lot of unpleasant or difficult people in the course of affairs, I rarely find myself thinking that the explanation for their difficult nature, or for our disagreement, is specifically envy, or envy of me. Maybe I’m not picking up on it, but I seem to perceive selfishness, yes; wrath, yes; ambition, yes; ego, yes; even cruelty, sometimes; but not the jealousy/envy that the rappers seem to encounter all so often. (Of course, one explanation is that my lifestyle is so utterly debased that no one would envy it, but I prefer to discount that one).
So what does anyone think? How often, when faced with interpersonal unpleasantness, do you attribute it to someone else’s envy, rather than one of the other deadly sins? Do you perceive people in general as having a huge amount of envy? If not, is the theme of envy/“player hating” that pops into the mind of the Rod Smarts just a result of: (a) in the underclass, envy really is more prevalent because the few who succeed are a reminder to the impoverished remainder of their poor circumstances; (b) juvenile thinking (I seem to remember “You’re just jealous” being a pretty common playground argument-settler); © egomania (i.e., attributing your problems to envy implies you’re pretty darn enviable, and it’s only natural for people to want what you have and hate you for having it)? Something else?