It feels like every conversation I have with another adult ends in a competition to see whose life is worse. If I have to do five things today, they have to do six. If I got hit with a $500 bill for car repairs, I am hearing a story about how they had to pay $1000. It’s a game I happily play as well. I have complained as much or more as the next person.
But why? What is it about having a worse day then everyone else that we all seek out to win the shit sweepstakes?
For one I think that we’ve so fallen in love with the narrative of an individual heroically overcoming victimization that we have mistaken victimization for heroism. They are now synonymous. You can’t be a hero without being a victim and now you don’t even have to be a hero. Just a victim.
Look at the most recent crop of Academy Award winning films: Spotlight, The Revenant, and Room. (Best Movie, Director, Actor and Actress) All of them stories about victims as heroes. The church, or psychopaths or nature all brutalizing and violating our heroes.
Now I am not saying there is not some heroism in overcoming victimization but it’s not the only kind of heroism. It is certainly not the type of heroism we should try to emulate. You do not have to be a victim to be strong and to stand up for what’s right.
This desire for victimization has taken on an addictive quality creating an epidemic of low grade Munchausen Syndrome; a disorder where people embellish physical and mental pain to meet needs of getting sympathy and attention. We all want to have the worst day so we can get the most attention.
Everyone else’s complaining is making me complain. I am officially having the worst day and therefore should get all the attention.