Meanness is a waste of time

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 2, 2015

Why do some people go out of their way to try and make someone else’s day worse?

An unknown person tried to do this to me a few days ago. Luckily, the gesture was so absurd, it actually made me laugh out loud. But it still made me think, why would someone go to all that trouble.

I was bringing my groceries to my car after a brief shopping trip to a Kroger store in Huntington. When I got in my car and fastened my seatbelt, I noticed a tiny slip of paper under the windshield wipers.

I got back out of my car and grabbed the note.

“LEARN TO DRIVE STUPID …,” followed by a four-letter word too vulgar to repeat in this publication.

At first I was dumbfounded. I was certain I hadn’t cut anyone off on the road prior to my arrival at the store and I wasn’t parked over the lines of the parking space. In fact, no one was around when I first parked the car, nor did anyone follow me in the parking lot.

After having mentally gone over my route to the store, I laughed. What a ridiculous and illogical thing to write. What an absurd waste of time for someone to stop everything just to purposefully be mean.

Maybe it was someone who knew me and saw my car, someone who obviously doesn’t like me. Who knows? I’ll probably never know the answer.

Some stranger most likely felt like being a passive aggressive jerk.

But why? What makes people do mean things to other people?

I suppose mean people don’t have a very high opinion of themselves and they must project that negativity onto others.

One such psychological projection theory says that people shield themselves from their own attributes or emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world. For example, a person who is a bad driver will accuse others of people a bad driver.

So you see, Stranger, it may not be me who is the bad driver.

Another theory argues that we are constantly comparing ourselves to others and usually, those comparisons make us feel worse.

I’m sorry, dear Stranger, that my awesome driving made you feel worse about your own driving, so worse that you had to leave a nasty note.

While my friends and I had a good laugh and made some jokes about that note, that writing was meant to ruin someone’s day, and it easily could have. Someone who was already having a bad day; someone who just lost their job or a loved one; someone who is working really hard to make ends meet from week to week and still falls short.

Everyone has their own cross to bear and it just isn’t fair to put more on someone just because you got your ego bruised or you think the world owes you something.

Being mean doesn’t accomplish anything and in the long run, won’t make you happier.

So be nice. You’ll see things work out better that way.


Michelle Goodman is the news editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at