Envy is decried as unvirtuous and seen as an emotion directed at somebody’s success, but it is not. Envy is an impulse to compete, but this impulse – in the case of envy – is compulsive. That is, the envying person like an addict is not free to choose whether he wants to be better than the other person.
He simply must be superior. He does not even know why.
Logically, this compulsive obsession is alleviated the easiest way by crushing the tall poppy rather than outcompeting him.
The envious person feels bad when he sees success, because he feels the compulsive need to outperform the other person. How annoying to him. Best to create a microcosm where his superiority is never in doubt.
In any case, why the compulsion? It is the compulsion to escape self-hatred, triggered by being inferior. We learn how to treat our self – read: us – by how our parents treated our self.
We learned to hate ourselves when we were not the best. Or loathe. Or despise. Because we did not get the love we needed when we were not somehow superb.
Unreflectedly, there are two defense mechanisms:
- The cowardly way: Throw down another’s success.
- The noble way: Be at the top by beating the other dude.
Narcissistic culture propagates the noble way. Keeps the cash running. The Joneses and all that. And never forget the anti-depressive pills, yum yum.
Of course, one may suggest that one rather start to learn to treat oneself better and not hate oneself for being inferior.
But do you really hate the other person? No, you hate your idea and feeling of the other person. But these are parts of your self..
Self-hatred can be channeled into pointless heroism, but ultimately, it is a more or less conscious way of self-inflicted cruelty.
Envy is a self-destructive yet intuitive way off saying fuck you to those who demand pointless greatness of you.