Is Envy A Big Problem For You?

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?

I have noticed that my wife will attribute other peoples actions to envy or jealousy in instances where it would have never occured to me. Now, she herself has an envious nature, whereas envy is not a problem for me at all. Scorn, on the other hand, I have some issues with.

Instead of choice ©, I think perhaps they are projecting their own feelings to some extent.

As for hip-hop, I don’t get exposed to a whole lot of it, but I remember back in the day (late 80’s) commenting (half-jokingly) to a coworker who did listen to a lot of rap that all the song lyrics were about the same thing: “I’m the best rapper”, etc. I’ve noticed that this seems to have “evolved” into “I’m the best rapper and here is a list of everyone else who sucks compared to me”. I’d love to know why this theme is so prevalant too.

I do agree there seems to be a zero-sum attitude behind the phenomenon: “Only one of us can be really successful, so he’s mad because it’s me; and if I don’t assert my superiority to him loudly enough, it’ll be me looking up envying his success.” Of course, it also helps to have an audience who takes seriously either: (a) bald assertions of superiority; or (b) blaming all of your rivals’ disagreements with you on envy. Even if I often thought my rivals were motivated by envy (I don’t), I’d think twice before blurting out the “they’re just jealous”/“they hate me because I’m so good” lines because I’d fear sounding lame/weak/self-pitying; but it must work with someone.

Well, the big prick of Envy was a little uncomfortable the first time.

In hip-hop’s early days, rapping mostly took the form of a ‘battle,’ one or a group of MCs competing against another group of MCs, often from a different region. Hence, in such a situation, it is only natural to rap about how you are the best rapper, and the other guy isn’t as good as you, since you are competing against him.

I don’t perceive it in people in general, but my sister sure has had a big problem with it since childhood, up to now. Anyone she perceived as being happier, better off, admired, etc. is on her shit list and she wants to see them fail. (And it’s not directed only against me.) So I guess my point is that yes, some people do have a problem with it, irrational though it may be.

I’ll buy that. But that still doesn’t get you all the way to the insistent positing that not only is your opponent less skilled than you are (athletes and other competitors have always had a tendency to motivate themselves that way) but that he’s very envious of you and hates you for your success. I guess another way of putting it is, if he’s your opponent, and you’re convinced you’ve triumphed over him, why would it even matter to you what his state of mind was? If your superiority is that self-evident, why would you have to invoke his “jealousy” as a further homage to it – unless you thought that your superiority/skills weren’t really that clearly superior and were casting about for additional “proof” in the form of your opponent’s “envy” of you. Apart from this kind of insecurity, harping on the opponent’s state of mind seems a little unadmirable because you’re either (a) reveling in his (supposed) humiliation and secret wish to be like you; or (b) sanctimoniously ‘regretting’ his inability to get over your superiority. Why not just enjoy your superiority and let him go on his mediocre way?