Why Be Petty?
- Making things, events, or actions normal people dismiss as trivial or insignificant into excuses to be upset, uncooperative, childish, or stubborn.
- A person who habitually overreacts.
- A person who is purposefully childish with the intent of illiciting [eliciting] a reaction (sometimes funny).
- An immature over-reaction in retaliation of an undesired outcome.
from Urban dictionary
Why? Why? Why? All my life, I’ve asked why — about everything. Right now, I’m wondering why people have to be so petty?
It’s not like I haven’t lived with people who are petty. It’s not like I haven’t been petty myself sometimes. I can have a wicked tongue when sparked into anger. And, it’s not like I haven’t seen it all over the television & social media — who can really say that since the dotard Trump came onto the U.S. political scene?
It’s that word that appears in numbers one & three in the above definition — “childish“. I’ve hit 60 years & have, as pretty well all of us must, been through many changes — almost ‘mini-lives’. Of course, there was childhood when there is childish pettiness. And, yeah, some people carry it on in their 20s, maybe even 30s.
But that’s the thing — as we age in years, we grow emotionally & mature. We learn to be considerate of others, to try to understand their viewpoint, to discuss the problem not belittle the person, to realize name-calling only brings division, & that sometimes we must come to a peaceful agreement “to agree to disagree”. We learn that maturity means to accept criticism, self-reflect, & adjust what we decide is needed. In any manner, maturity means losing pettiness.
Phrases in the definition that strike a chord are “Making .. insignificant into excuses” [#1], “habitually over-reacts” [#2], “purposefully … intent of
illiciting [eliciting] a reaction” [#3], & “retaliation of an undesired outcome” [#4].
There’s a sense of control — making, habitually, purposefully, intent, retaliation — all words indicating the individual is choosing these behaviours. With that control comes a sense of power — too easily abused. There’s a sense of blame — excuses, over-reaction, retaliation. Still, in all that bluster, there’s also a sense of low-esteem — the undesired outcome that brings about the retaliation signifies losing. To keep the mask of self-confidence the petty person wears, they must win at all costs or bring you down with them.
So, yeah, I can see the ‘why’ in all that — gotta have that belief of being the greatest. But finding real greatness as a truly humane being is where maturity comes in. You learn to put aside childish selfishness & aggrandizement. Unfortunately, if there’s no self-reflection to examine actions or their consequences, pettiness can’t be changed.
Too often, when trying to deal with a person who is constantly petty, I will give them the over-reaction they are looking for. There’s a frustration that builds up over time — you’ve tried speaking to them logically, you’ve tried staying silent, you’ve tried keeping your distance as much as possible — the volcano finally erupts. I do end up sinking to their level — pettiness comes out as a weapon against pettiness with name-calling that cuts — no-one is happy, nothing gets resolved & the division grows wider.
I wonder what the other person thinks they won — is it that I end up hating myself & feeling stupid for falling into the trap again? It only makes me more guarded, more distant — less likely to open a conversation.
This is the ‘why’ I don’t understand. Don’t these people have problems in many of their other relationships? Don’t they feel unhappy & unsatisfied with their life in general? Don’t they find fewer people want to be around them? Don’t they find that they never really achieve the adoration they are seeking?
I simply don’t understand: Why be petty?
Simply a Dawne Thought