Deserve’s Got Nothing to Do With It

“Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” –William Munny, Unforgiven

There is a lot of rage over people getting what they don’t deserve, and others not getting what they feel they do. Some writers continually grouse about those undeserving bestsellers, or get huge advances, like there’s only so much success out there, and it must be hoarded, like pie (or they didn’t deserve a bad review, so they go stalk the reviewer and call her at work and ask her how her children are doing.) But it’s not just writers. There are haters everywhere.

A world where we get what we deserve would be terrifying. Who gets to decide what you deserve? Here’s a hint, it’s not you. And that lack of control galls us. It is frightening, and we hate being afraid, so it becomes hate, and we project it. Who is making us feel this way? (It’s ourselves, but we project it upon convenient targets). For a detailed example of how this turns into a campaign of threats and terroristic threats, you can read The Kool-Aid Point by Kathy Sierra, a techie driven off the internet by vile trolls who decided she was getting too much attention because she’s a woman and must’ve used her wiles to get it, and thus didn’t deserve it.

It’s a harrowing read. And it’s unsurprising that the guy behind it came out as a full-on white supremacist in prison, because hate groups are the ultimate outcome of an obsession with an other denying you your just desserts. The ultimate projection of your own failures onto a convenient target. Why are we afraid? Why aren’t we as rich as those people on TV? It must be those people over there who are different than us.

Now, every entitled angry twit isn’t going to become the next Hitler, but feeding on that anger, that you don’t have what you deserve, and all those people out there do, is certainly not healthy. Healthy people concentrate on what they can change. We can’t change what the masses will decide (or marketers decide) will be popular. We can only persevere and improve, and count our blessings. Anyone who has the time to write, for example, or spend all this time talking on the internet, is a lot better off than most. There will always be haters who become enraged at someone else’s success, and a smaller few who decide to take them down a peg. Sometimes, like in Tom Perrotta’s ELECTION, it can be somewhat funny. But in reality, it’s pretty sad. All that energy wasted, tearing someone else down instead of … well, anything else.