I am skimming through the cacophonous thread of a Whatsapp group. Everyone seems to be trying to assuage somebody’s feelings or giving long explanations. I scroll upwards to get to the genesis of this acrimonious parley of words. Beneath all this nastiness is the weird reaction of one member. And this when that person wasn’t even being discussed remotely. Why that extreme reaction, I wonder. Days later, it happens again. And I’ve had enough of the group banter and steer clear of any conversations.
Cut to the next scenario. A harmless joke is flung in jest among people who were once friends. Except that one friend now occupies a position of power. And suddenly a silly remark is taken seriously. The curt reaction shows you your place. You are a subordinate. You’d better stay there. The air is now heavy with awkwardness. And you know one will never again care to be informal with the person who has developed such a sensitive demeanour.
What makes usually normal people develop such prickly behaviour? Perhaps they face resistance from so many quarters for so long that they grow to believe that everyone is out to attack them. And then, they can’t distinguish between friend or foe. Conversations with them go nowhere, as these people always feel challenged by innocuous statements. Their behaviour manifests as sheer arrogance, much to the chagrin of people around them. But isn’t their behaviour actually a manifestation of their vulnerability?
To me they appear as wound up characters. Any casual statement causes them to recoil and lash out. It makes them feel in control — on top of things. It is often followed by the constant refrain of telling people how righteous they are. You will usually find such people compelled to surround themselves by people who praise them to the skies. They need constant affirmation of their greatness. Unfortunately such behaviour does not make others look up to them. It doesn’t quite work that way.
Fragile egos are brittle. The more rigid and inflexible you get with those who wish you well, the more people you lose in your life. As for putting another down, it is the worst way to climb your way up. It just speaks volumes about your own insecurity. Each one of us is just another specimen in this vast sea of people. An inflated sense of self-worth isn’t pleasant to cope with, and you will have people avoiding you. Distances will creep in for permanence.