We’ve seen it all before. The star shoots to the top so very quickly. It doesn’t matter who the star is, for what they excel (or simply are famous for), or how they got there, they are pushed to the front of the line of American (and worldwide) adoration. It just kind of happens all at once. It happens to sports figures, actors, pop culture icons, musicians, child prodigies, and everyone in between. It even happens in our social circles. They can do no wrong and are given the benefit of the doubt at every turn. Some are pushed further to the top, some do have a modicum of talent and credibility, but all receive the benefit of the invisible hand of public sentiment and adoration. Then, something happens.
It may be related to something they have done or failed to do. Very often it is simply something they’ve said that doesn’t fit the mold of what is “socially and/or morally” popular or acceptable. Too often the recipient of the adoration has mistakenly taken this push for a true belief in and unconditional following of who they are. Whatever the bottom falling out case it is, the momentum shifts and it doesn’t shift slowly. They are now public enemy #1. As quickly as they shot up they are hunted down. The helping hand is replaced by a disrespectful slap. The popularity push is now replaced by a severing yank to the bottom.
This is nothing new. I’m sure that you can find examples of this in pop culture all the way back to those amazing golden voiced McGuire Sisters who became lascivious lushes (not really) as fast as they had become America’s favorite singing sister sensation. Everyone loved Gen. Patton until they deemed him crazy. Jesus himself was lauded King of kings and was adored on Palm Sunday as he strode into town. We all know how long THAT lasted.
Yet, something is becoming more and more prevalent, and it is quite alarming. In the good old days people became jealous. The object of their affection had something that they didn’t. They wanted something that they didn’t have, saw someone with it, and decided they needed to have it all the more. They were jealous. They then did all that they could to get where they wanted to be or what they wanted to have. Jealousy, though dangerous and at times quite petty at least had a motivating component. Today, something worse, more insidious, has creeped in.
Envy. You see, it is no longer, “Man, I wish I could be loved by so many.” or “It would be awesome to have THAT much money.” It is now, “They don’t deserve that, no one should get to have that, it’s not fair that they get to be that way.” Thus, the collective effort is to shred the person of all that they have and are. It’s not about reaching in and working harder. It’s about reaching up and tearing down all that they (an individual or the collective) deem unworthy.
It is far too easy today to sit at your computer/tablet/phone and blindly and anonymously throw electronic (and yet real) hurt in constant and collective fashion. It is more and more evident in the younger generations with “cyberbullying” and the myriad of internet mediums to lash out at a friend who didn’t step in line with the purposefully vague status quo. For the older crowd we have graduated from the accountability of the water cooler to heavily worded yet ambiguous facebook status’ and tweets about “you know who.” We hide in the social mob of internet invisibility and gladly cast the first stone, despite our sin.
Worse yet, those guilty of this then revel at the objects demise. They…we celebrate the fall from grace, the descending from the very perch of popularity where we have placed them in the first place. Their reputations are feasted upon by and devoured by the ravenous dogs that are their nameless and faceless accusers. Far too often the target did nothing wrong, they just fell out of the flavor of the month crowd. More often, they may have mistepped a bit but are dealt a crushing and debilitating blow far beyond the severity of their sin. Either way, those tearing down dance and revel in the misery of others. Envy, it is human kinds most ugly wart.
Ironically, the one who takes the greatest hit in this ugly offense is (as so often is the case) the one who tears down. The keeper of the envy is the true loser (in more ways than one) in this ugly equation. Yes, those who are toppled from a righteous or manufactured place of status are injured and at times debilitated, they can recover. However, those who harbor envy will be enveloped (as in wrapped up, not “stick a letter in me”) by it and shrivel to an angry bitter shell of what was once a human being.
You would think that I have been the victim of this inasmuch that I’m writing about it today. Not at all. The “C Card” protects me from that…for now. No, it’s just something I heard Dr. Drew talk about on both his podcast and the one he does with Adam Carolla. Thinking about it I was saddened and angered at where unresolved hurts lead. I am motivated to continue to teach how to process hurts so as not to see so many go down this dark road. Thanks for being a vital part of this. We have our work cut out for us.