What Your Curiosity About Others’ Lives Say About You

The red flags in the mirror

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Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

Jack’s new girlfriend and Jill’s new job, John’s choice of friends and Jane’s choice of shoes — you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, don’t you? You truly deserve a standing ovation for your enthusiasm in people.

You must be an altruist at heart — always looking out for others. Always there. The first person to know and sympathize when someone’s going through a bad time.

You can’t be found near celebrations much. Nah! Too many people already there. You need the lone prey willing to divulge everything to the charm of your teary eyes and pats on the back. There’s never been a shoulder to cry on that’s more right-place-right-time than yours.

Your peers call you their very own investigative journalist. Why wouldn’t they? Five minutes on Facebook and you can compile any Joe Somebody’s biography from the bits collected from tricky corners of the internet. What a pro!

Your ex’s new romantic interest has got to be a tramp or a fuckboi. Just cause. And this one, a few scrolls down your news feed that’s wearing the same outfit as you must be copying you, cause you’re the trendiest of them all!

Your friend skipped lunch with you so he must be having money problems. And Sally is seeing a therapist cause of course she is! You figured she’s a rotten one way before doctors did. You have all the reasons ready to laugh at anybody behind their back, including the ones you usually laugh with.

What is it about the activities and whereabouts of other people that fascinate you so much? Why does snitching and bitching make you feel sooooooh good?

You turn a blind eye to your own failures

I’m not trying to make you feel terrible, cause let’s face it — you probably feel terrible all the time.

Everybody’s got their own challenges and you know it. Even with all the glam and dazzle you see on their social media you know it deep down that everyone has their own battles to fight and usually only the highlight reel surfaces online for the world to see — often with artificially added shine.

So why are you in denial of your own battles and in celebration of others?

Will that solve your problems?
Nope.
Perpetuate them instead?
Quite likely.

Every time you point and laugh at someone’s problem (often not because it’s there but because you want to see it) your loser score gets a 1-up.

Sorry, today I’m cutting own on tender words and trying to give you a proverbial slap on the face with this write-up just so you can wake the fuck up, for your own good and everyone else’s.

If you've got a problem, see it, fix it. It’s a kazallion times harder than criticizing others to feel some fake high but when you eventually come out a winner from those inner battles, you can appreciate everything around you and that joy it’s incomparable to your sad hits of cheap dopamine.

You crave attention

Your inner creep shouts “Notice me!” and you learned (probably without even consciously realizing) that it’s easiest to get attention when you have a curious story with over-the-top dramatization to tell on someone unfortunate enough to cross your toxic radar.

Maybe you find it hard to get recognized and you’re tired of feeling ignored. And this gossip game has proven to be a surefire way to get a lot of spotlight because there’s always a bunch hungry to listen. You crack the best mean jokes on what others wear and that makes everybody in your gossip club to feel a little better about themselves. What a win!

You could have earned better attention, bigger attention. You could showcase your creative talents, devote your time for a humanitarian cause, use your opportunities to make a better name for yourself. But nope, you’ve chosen the easier route. Cheap attention is king for you. Congratulations on setting your own upper limit. I hope it’s nice down there.

You’re a lazy fuck

You have dreams and ambitions too, but you live in some kind of bubble where it’s nice to believe it’s just gonna come to you. You don’t work a day for it. You spend your day … wishing.

And as you look around to see people reaching travel, career and relationship milestones, you keep telling yourself sad shit like “He must have kissed asses his way to promotion,”, “She travels to show off, why can’t she shut down her phone and enjoy it?” or “Eh, is that a wedding dress? My grandma has a better gown rotting in the attic.”

Pathetic. It’s you who is the problem with yourself.

If you need to get things done in life — get an awesome job, travel, develop friendships and cultivate quality romance in your life you’ll have to work for it, because five years of relentless finger-pointing and gossiping later you’re still binging on Netflix and munching chips and dip on a Tuesday morning and all the people who would rather be the performers than the audience kept hustling their way to their own personal highs.

Your envy comes from your stupid view of life

Everybody’s life is different. Every. Single. One. — Unique. The sooner you tattoo that in your brain, the better.

If you see life as a race against everybody else, you’re playing a lost game. What on earth could be your rationale for everyone having the same trajectory? If you’re following someone else’s standards you’re setting yourself up for failure every damn living day.

At any given point in time (and time is a crucial element here), there will always be people within your own circle who have better jobs, better relationships, more experience and expertise on something, more stories to tell, more money to spend and the list can go on.

Firstly, you need to set up your goals independent of everyone else’s. What, when, how — all these questions must be answered honestly, from your own context, pertaining to your own view of life, not the weighted average of the society’s view or a ridiculously Disney-themed one.

Secondly, even if your goals align a lot with someone else, stop comparing your journey with them because thousands of factors that affect minute details of your life — starting from childhood experiences, upbringing, friends and culture to things like diet, lifestyle, environment and temperament — are bound to be different from anyone else you’re comparing yourself with.

To even consider comparing your journey with anyone else’s is not naive — it’s downright stupid.

You simply haven’t been educated that others’ business are exclusively others’ and not yours to mind

Just because what others are doing is observable doesn’t mean the acts are being performed for you. Yes, people put up their updates on social media for others to see. Like it? Support it. Don’t? Move on. You have no business in passing on unsolicited concern and criticism. If you feel an unstoppable urge to do that, the trouble was your training.

You apparently lack understanding of the obvious — there’s no meaning and purpose of your life if you spend your finite hours in mockery of others’ lives rather than in the making of yours. It’s a severe deficiency of principles, ambitions and self-esteem. A life that leads to a tombstone reading: Here lies The Nosy One: An unheard critic, a waste of opportunities.

I’ve been with a woman who couldn’t go a day without criticizing someone exaggeratingly. The list of people she was jealous of, people who she thought was “below her class” and friends she was too good for was so fucking long that it makes my huge list of celebrity crushes look like sculpture schlong *(Avril Lavigne, I still love you!).

I tried longer and harder than I’m sure anybody else would to turn her toxicity into positivity by inspiring and encouraging her to pursue her own goals, but unless I’d join her gossip at least as an avid listener, if not as a vocal participant, my words meant shit.

While she was literally at the best phase of her life, with a world of opportunities awaiting her and she could become anything she wanted to — she took the easy route of scrolling her thumb skin off over the Facebook news feed mumbling (loud enough for me to hear every word) mean shit about every fifth person that appears on her screen. At the best stage of her life she cried about her ex getting married to someone a lot younger than her and them already having kids. Comparing incomparables. Pathetic.

Sorry, not sorry for not feeling sorry for those tears.

I have some friends that I hardly talk to anymore who couldn’t keep a conversation going for five straight minutes if it wasn’t about making fun of someone else. They knew everybody’s dirty little secret. How? They would make considerable efforts to befriend their targets and linger around until all secrets were spilled, and then they’d go AWOL just to be found elsewhere gossiping with the likes of them. Unsurprisingly, their listeners and partners-in-crime would always eventually end up as their targets too.

No wonder I don’t talk to them any longer.

Your curiosity about others’ lives show cavities in your character.

Don’t be these people. They’re sad, uninspiring, demoralizing and they suck the life out of everything around them. I’ve done my share of trying to change views of such people within my own threshold and have failed in more cases than not — not because they couldn’t see that the real problem is with them but because they chose to deny it and point fingers at others. It was the easier alternative after all.

I’ve grown very intolerant to people who find ease and entertainment in petty mockery while living and breathing in a time when they can become anything they desire, if only they put some effort into it.

I’m not the only quitter. Nobody sticks around for them, except the likes of them, and them too, only temporarily. Otherwise, they only stick around unwillingly.

You apparently got talent. Use it elsewhere.

Use that indomitable curiosity to look in the mirror. Find out rooms for your own improvement. Channel your attention to detail to perfect your own craft — not stalking — some other craft that you can be proud of and known for (more widely than a sad gossipers’ club).

The same perseverance that allows you to extract every damn cookie crumb from someone else’s cupboard, use it to find every opportunity you can tap into to be the best you can be.

Rise above.
You can. If you want it enough.

Written by

“Sugarcoats are not in fashion” • Economist, teacher, photographer • Stockholm, Sweden • All posts: tiny.cc/22b5tz

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