Earlier today I was verbally abused for daring to be fat in public by a group of teenagers on a school bus.
Now, I have to admit that the comments by teenagers don’t really bother me. I mean – they are teenagers; their whole goal in life is to alienate others in an effort to strengthen the bonds with their “group.” So what if a sixteen year old thinks I’m fat – I can buy liquor, so I’m already one up on them. I’m just way too old to be bothered by their nonsense.
It does bother me when adults do it though. Usually adults – sober adults, at least – aren’t as brazen about their criticism of strangers as the teenagers on the bus. We tend to talk about people only when we think they are out of range to hear (or maybe, just close enough to hear, but far enough away that we can deny it). [Yes, I said “we.” I’ve been known to criticize perfect strangers for no good reason. As humans, we tend to do pretty stupid things like that on a daily basis. I try to be aware of and ignore the impulse though.]
Why do we do this to each other? The nastiness – sometimes even anger – just doesn’t make sense to me. Does it make us feel better? Do we think we’ve made an impression on our victim? And if so, why do we want to do that?