09 January 2009


Since I've been here, I've had what I would consider to be a notable number of encounters with a particular type of person.  This person - or, in this case, these people - seem to devote themselves to, and take a fierce kind of pleasure in, charting the negative occurrences in the careers of those they dislike, or who they feel have somehow injured them (actively, or in some cases just by being better known, or having achieved more).  Now, I can understand hoping for something bad to happen to someone you think has done you wrong - or even, although I understand it less, someone you just dislike - and I can understand feeling cheerful, or even downright happy, when you hear that it has.  But I can't understand keeping your ear to the ground for just such happenings, or poring over such things and gloating when they do.  That's a lot of time to invest in someone you don't like.  Plus, something about such determined schadenfreude-seeking seems odd to me. Surely the way to deal with your sense that someone has cheated you out of your just desserts is to do even more to get those just desserts, not to (as it were) nega-stalk the person (that is, stalk after negative information about them) and use up your time in rejoicing when they fail? (since this rejoicing doesn't seem to be the "HA ha" of a moment that it would be with me, but rather an activity that takes up considerable time, or at least involves considerable preoccupation - by which I mean more than three minutes.)  One of the people I know who does this even nega-stalks for me by proxy, delighting in bringing me negative information about people they think I dislike.  Usually, I don't dislike these people, but even when I do, I look upon this information as news ("So and so got a lousy job"), rather than as an opportunity to gloat ("Nyah nyah; you got a lousy job!").  As my last post makes plain, I'm not above a gloat at someone else's misery every now and again, but the person in the last post really hurt me - it wasn't just someone that people like better than me or something.

The people I've encountered here who perform this behaviour are, not surprisingly given where I am, all English.  This leads me to wonder, are there such people in the States?  Britain has a smaller population, and I think this makes it more likely that one will encounter one or more of every type of person; in the States that person could live in Dakota, and you might never meet them.  But perhaps this peculiar type of stingy spite is limited to the British, to those British whose tendency toward suppression has resulted in this kind of para-hatred?  Hmm...

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