By Ben Spielberg
I was sitting in class yesterday, and the teacher asked us what we thought future utopian and dystopian ideals would look like. As my new classmate began to speak, I began to hate him proportionally with the amount of words he said (for the record, that's around Hate^75. Comparatively, it's rumored that the Grinch Who Stole Christmas only reached Hate^98. And yes, I am qualified to develop a scale of units of Hatred. It's technically in the metric system for easier conversion, but you can just as well Google the calculation for imperial units). It turns out that I suffer from something I like to call Systematic Jealousy—a disorder that is characterized by intense feelings of frustration in school, work, and family functions when viewing a fellow student, colleague, or cousin being praised.
The symptoms begin like this: at school, somebody other than myself does a good job at writing a paper, answering a question in the classroom, or creating a colorfully informative PowerPoint presentation. The teacher vocalizes his or her positive feelings about the assignment--and thus the student. I become angry. My first thoughts are immediately that this student is paradoxically stupid, that they missed the point, and that iWork's “Numbers” is way more effective than Microsoft's “PowerPoint.”
These same symptoms are magnified in the workplace. To preface, I would like to remind my readers that I have a pretty cool job: I get paid to write blogs once a week (that sentence just bought me half a candy bar), I get to play memory games with crack heads and murderers, and I am one of the only people who uses a “Bop It!” therapeutically. Nonetheless, I can't help my knee-jerk reaction to a coworker's success: absolute spite. Sometimes, my jealousy is completely nonsensical; sometimes I want to be praised for running the LA Marathon, even though I didn't run it.
Systematic Jealousy occurs in complex systems like these, but there is a remedy for my fellow SJD sufferers. While we cannot stop our initial reactions, we can remember that it's good for other people to be successful. At Beit T'Shuvah, the success of my colleagues leads to more lives being saved. In the class, the most critical thinkers are responsible for enriching the classroom experience. And in my family, every degree earned brings about an overwhelmingly large sense of knowledge between us.
And we shouldn't feel bad about it. It's okay to have a competitive nature; as I'm writing this, I'm imagining my blog getting hundreds of clicks per day, compared to Michael Welch's (Tuesday's writer) hundreds per week. But, I've learned that it's okay to click on Tuesday's blog, because it supports the company that I support and work for. Just make sure to click twice on Wednesday.