(Originally published February 22, 2011)
I’m feeling annoyed with a friend of mine who inadvertently hooked me on one of my more agitating pet peeves over the weekend.
I’m also feeling annoyed with myself because another one of my pet peeves is people who try to control other people instead of just letting them be who they are. Like I’m doing by thinking my friend should behave differently than she does.
What did my friend do to set me off? She was imploring a group of us to have more appreciation for school teachers because, “Somewhere in your neighborhood tonight a teacher is grading and preparing lessons to teach your children while you are watching television.” Couldn’t she make the same plea on behalf of teachers and just leave out the part about the parents watching T.V.? Why does she have to imply that parents are “bad, lazy, t.v. watchers” for the teachers to be “good, hard-working, heroes”?
Then, I make matters worse by relegating my friend, in my imagination, to the role of spiritual dilettante for her faux pas in expressing gratitude and subsequent lack of personal reflection when I questioned her about it. That makes me “one-up” from her, right? Because my communication skills are so sophisticated compared with hers — my ego thinks so!
Now, I’m laughing because this morning I stumbled on this website:
The Web’s Largest List of Pet Peeves
Here are a couple examples from a list of over 500 things that annoy the author:
People who don’t know the difference between its/it’s and they’re /their/there.
People that interrupt you when your telling a story and then they continue to tell you their story and then ask you in an uninterested tone to continue on with your story when they are finished talking.
How about people who don’t know the difference between your/you’re after complaining about people who don’t know the difference between its/it’s? haha!
Anyway, that long list of complaints and negativity was over the top! I wondered who would take the time to write all those down? Who would sit there and read them all? I only made it through, maybe, the first twenty before I was exhausted.
Why do we constantly feel compelled to play the one-up game? Why do we think putting someone else down will make us feel better about ourselves? How many insidious ways can we find to put one person down to raise someone else up (usually ourselves) while camouflaging our comparisons — couching them as expressions of gratitude, concern or even back-handed compliments?
Does one-upmanship ever make us feel better? I think this game actually contributes to a sort of free floating, pervasive feeling of guilt and fear in all players.
In a way, reading The World’s Largest List of Pet Peeves brought my simmering tea kettle of anxiety to a full, rolling, boil. The pressure builds … wheeEEEEEE!! And like a puff of steam my anxiety dissipates into the air.
Now, I’m ready to enjoy a nice, hot cup of tea and watch Gene Kelly singing and splashing around in the rain at the Magic Movie Clips library …
Ah, that feels seriously better!