Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The size of your arse and the size of your ego

Why does the bully in human beings round so mercilessly on characteristics that individuals have no control over? I mean really, really - what's the reason? In case you think I'm just churning out one of the the most basic, zeitgeisty concepts of the decade, I'm actually considering the reasons why. I'm not debating the rights and wrongs of it as they're obvious. I'm not going all Jeremy Kyle on you and am not about to ask you if you even think you should care what others think, like yeah? You and me, we're on another level to that. We're philosophers...in a sort of bloggish way...we're blogosphers. But it's a genuine curiosity that I have seeing as humans are so very capable of understanding the most complex of ideas and yet fail miserably on some of the most basic ones.

The way we look in particular seems to attract ridicule, condemnation even, as if it were in any way changeable or the subject (object?) of our scorn could be somehow responsible. It's particularly baffling in view of the fact that, socially speaking, we're well versed on how to think - don't judge a book by its cover, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, all that glitters (pedants - that's glisters to you) is not gold. We love trotting out clich├ęs yet demonstrably hate allowing them to restrict our sanctimonious and judgmental sides. I guess wisdom is only word deep.

Typical example: I know it's not exactly current anymore but the Susan Boyle saga clearly illustrated how ingrained our knee-jerk, superficial jeering can be. Was it really such a great revelation to discover that she was more talented than she looked? I know the whole thing felt incredibly scripted but the fuss made about it was still largely made by the public and thereby exposed the fact that we haven't moved on one iota. What was presented to us as some kind of a moral lesson showed that we are incapable of learning it however many times it's drummed into us. If we felt patronised, consider that maybe we deserved it.

So back to my question - why? To what end do we act in such a nonsensical manner? My first guess, when it comes to looks at any rate, is that it's because there is a much louder message being rammed down our throats day and night. The beauty industry has adeptly scratched the surface to feed off our deeper insecurities. "Because we're worth it," it tells us with a sultry wink. You can look better, feel better and be better. With a little effort you have earnt your place at the top of the pile and the esteemed beauty industry gives you the green light to look down on others.

But it's not just a lack of good looks that encourages people to bestow privileges upon themselves. I would argue this behaviour can be found in other types of prejudices too - skin colour, gender and sexuality to name a few. Picking spurious features of a person and then demeaning them because of it is a fantastic way to trap someone within themselves and from there to gain control. Their exterior is the symbol of their "inferiority" I suppose? Not that I'm suggesting it's the cause of the prejudices in the first place, there are myriad complicated, historical factors involved. But I'm just pulling together the examples where the same method is employed to attack and demean others because I'm not sure I find it comparable to the judgements made on people for their actions or views.

Is this because we start to humanise people the deeper in we go? Views and actions give us an insight to the inner workings of the mind. This is the first step to seeing them as more than a shell but also it means that our responses and arguments need to start being cleverer too. We start to worry about how we'll measure up and points are not so easy to score.

So, what do you think? Why on earth do we make fools of others in such a way that makes total fools of ourselves? Is the human soul really no more than Nelson from the Simpsons?

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