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on suffering [Aug. 29th, 2008|04:56 am]
Wise Tits

wise_tits

[jesuismeursault]
[Current Location |home]
[Current Mood |pensivepensive]
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suffering is interesting. by this, i mean the concept, not the experience. if someone suffers some ill and then speaks openly about it (whether the person is hunting for pity or not is irrelevant), there always seems to be another person who feels the need to minimize that suffering by doing one of two things: either mentioning that there are other people (named or unnamed) who have suffered just as much if not worse, or by pointing out that he himself has suffered as much or more than the speaker. why is this? what is with this compulsion? isn't pain just pain, after all? does it need to be quantified? and, once quantified, does it then need to be compared to other pains and ranked accordingly? simply because there is a situation that is somewhat worse than another, does that invalidate the right of the person in the second situation to speak about a legitimate hardship?

a friend of mine from college told me about an incident where he foolishly mentioned losing his mother at twelve to cancer and how that had affected him as a teenager. he said he'd once been told by someone else that he didn't have a right to complain (he wasn't complaining, btw, just saying) because some people have lost both of their parents. now, while that is invariably true, was it absolutely necessary to bring up? is there some unspoken level of credibility that must be attained before once can speak about suffering?
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Comments:
From: d_h_belmont
2008-08-30 07:10 am (UTC)
First, whoever told your college friend that he didn't have a right to complain was way out of line and I'm shocked that, despite this phenomenon you talked about, someone could be so cold-hearted to say they shouldn't complain about losing a parent at such a young age.

I tend to think this phenomenon is another example of oneupmanship. One person mentions how they've suffered, endured something, what have you, and someone else has to go "Well, I went through MORE, so I'm stronger than you!" I think we all have a drive to compete, dating back to when were cavemen or even further back when males and females had to compete for the best selection for a mate. Since we can't simply slug it out anymore when it comes to finding "the superior", we, as humans, find any and all ways to one up their fellow man or woman.

You bring up an interesting point.

I've noticed a similar phenomenon when it comes to people talking about how much money they make. Funny how each time someone talks, the dollar amount gets higher... unless it's about bitching about not getting paid enough, in which case it gets lower and falls into the whole "suffering" thing.

Everything I've said aside, I wonder if people claim to have suffered more with the idea in mind that there's a balance in the universe. They have gone through bad times, so SURELY they would get some good times in return. More pain, more gain? In short, some really abstract wishful thinking?
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[User Picture]From: jesuismeursault
2008-08-31 07:18 pm (UTC)
hmmm, i never thought of it as wishful thinking, but that makes a lot of sense. i just thought it was strange that anyone would feel the need to one-up someone when that person is mentioning something legitimate...
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