Why are people mean?

“Why are people mean?”
That was an essay prompt I received in my English class last year that particularly stood out to me.

This topic forced me to contemplate why, how and when, in particular, we become mean.
It’s not common to discuss questions like these, but I do think this is a relevant issue in our society. I considered the cause and the depth of mean behavior, only to realize there is far more than a single answer.

In fact, I can guarantee asking different people the same question would generate many different speculations.
After pondering, I can only suggest possibilities. After all, there are things we will never learn to fully understand or to agree with others in our lifetime.

When we think of “mean,” most people immediately associate the word with traits such as being arrogant, selfish, contradictory, rude and so on.

We can all temporarily grow a “mean” attitude when we become frustrated, similar to the way children can become aggressive when they don’t receive something they want. It seems, if not dealt with early on, such behavior could evolve into a lifestyle, causing people to be mean on a daily basis.

I believe the problem is people have become too focused on themselves and not nearly as considerate about others.
Why does this really happen? Research has shown people are mean to others in order to feel better about themselves. Isn’t it frightening somebody could feel happy by making someone sad? Would they really feel powerful by putting down others?

I wonder if other, more-positive ways to accomplish those feelings ever occurred to them.
All in all, they may just need a good friend, someone to help increase their self-esteem and support them. Instead of avoiding these people, we could assist them in finding the kindness within them.

Personally, I see people with mean attitudes as attempting to display power, but in reality, they are just concealing their weakness. Dominating others is a mask they put on to hide their imperfections, problems and, definitely, their low self-esteem.

Do you think happy people could be mean?
Considering they resonate positive feelings and thoughts, I think they simply lack the pessimistic attitude to act in a mean way. If they grew up experiencing positive emotions, there’s seemingly no reason why they wouldn’t in the future. Perhaps children who see or feel rude behavior or carelessness in themselves believe it’s the norm, and they mature into adults with the same characteristics.

On the contrary, generosity and kindness can be instilled in young people with ease if they are brought up knowing that doing good has a lasting, positive effect.
By no means am I suggesting it’s always a parent’s fault their children grow into mean people. However, when they don’t control their emotions and they let out their anger in the form of insults to their children, they are abusing their power as parents. I am sure these kids would seek out weak “victims” over whom to exhibit power.

By nature, humans are social. … We should be collaborating, interacting and enjoying one another’s company day by day. The world has become so locked up with boundaries that set us apart, sorting us by our qualities and backgrounds. It seems the more diverse the world gets, the more difficult it is for us to accept each other. Our world is filled with violence, and we are accustomed to seeing such situations all around us. The news often shows the catastrophic events pertinent to our lives, invoking fear or sadness.

How often are we actually shown positive progress, success or achievements?

Similarly, by sharing bad news with one another, we are becoming more pessimistic and limiting the time we spend experiencing positive emotions.

I think humans, as a whole, are becoming deficient in love, affection and smiles. So rather than being mean to feel powerful, we should be kind to feel happy, while making someone else’s day.

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