by Jack Zukin
People are mean. I’m not forgetting that people can be nice as well, but unfortunately, being a jerk is just so much easier.
I like to associate meanness with a lack of empathy, and I like to associate a lack of empathy with one’s proclivity to make humorous remarks at others’ expense. Therein lies the advantage to meanness: getting other people to laugh. I believe another advantage is that it makes the joke-maker look powerful, intelligent, cool, etc. in relation to the victim. However, I want to focus on the sociopathic aspect of meanness. In other words, certain people’s complete apathy, and their lack of a filter.
Most of us have probably been in social situations where validation is fully dependent on your crowd’s response to a joke or story or what have you. So let’s say that you tell a joke or a story that wasn’t as funny as you thought it was going to be and you can tell that it might fall flat, but then your friend comes to the rescue and saves the situation and makes you feel less like a loser. On the other hand, you will have the person with schadenfreudian tendencies who will revel in the fact that your moment of attention crashed and burned. That is a mean person. I would not be friends with that person. Let me be clear, there is a big difference between throwing someone under the bus and just messing around with friends. The latter is acceptable, the former, not so much.
Another example of the mean person is one without the filter. This person will make you look bad at every single turn. It might be from pure amusement, or it might be because they are insecure. Anyway, everyone has insecurities and most people are cognizant of other people’s insecurities. Most people recognize these insecurities and leave it at that. Mean people exploit these weakness with pleasure. I don’t know why, but they do. Do not be friends with these people.
P.S. Most people do all of these things, so either choose your friends wisely or live by yourself for the rest of your life.