I slipped through [school] with average marks, and this suited me very well, as it fitted in with my general tendency not to be conspicuous. On the whole I sympathised with boys from poor families who, like myself, had come from nowhere, and I had a liking for those who were none too bright, though I tended to become excessively irritated by their stupidity and ignorance. For the fact of the matter was that they had something to offer which I craved deeply: in their simplicity they noticed nothing unusual about me. My “unusualness” was gradually beginning to give me disagreeable, rather uncanny feelings that I must posses repulsive traits, of which I was not aware, that caused my teachers and schoolmates to shun me.
“I could not be dragged away from the water. The waves from the steamer washed up to the shore, the sun glistened on the water, and the sand under the water hand been curled into little ridges by the waves. The lake stretched away and away in the distance. This expanse of water was an inconceivable pleasure to me, and incomparable splendour. At that time the idea became fixed in my mind that I must live near a lake; without water, I thought, nobody could live at all.”
Many people will be resolutely antiasshole, however the cultural winds blow and regardless of the potential upside. Yet they may nevertheless find themselves unable or unwilling to maintain full cooperation. Instead of switching [to asshole ways], they simply withdraw, being unable or unwilling any longer to do the things people need to do if cooperation is to continue as before. Withdrawal may take any or all of the following forms:
Thinking like an asshole: The man takes it as given (perhaps subconsciously or inchoately) that he is justified in allowing himself special advantages in social relations, in light of special entitlement to them. That is, his sense of special entitlement tells him that he has no reason or insufficient reason to abide by the expectations of conduct that normally apply among mere mortals.
One could argue that asshole production proceeds at a uniform and steady rate and that there has merely been an increase in asshole reporting, with increasing media scrutiny of public figures and profit-driven exposure of assholes on TV, in print, and on the Web. At the same time, however, increasing reportage also creates powerful incentives for assholes to bare themselves in public, for a large audience. That could itself cause asshole production to rise on average.
Aaron James – Assholes: A Theory
Consider why we swear out loud at the asshole in traffic. We often know that he cannot hear us in his car. Indeed, we are especially prone to do this while driving alone (because passengers may be disturbed or offended), knowing full well that no one else can hear. Is there a point to this? Is it simply that there is pleasure in venting, the gratification of a cathartic, ejaculatory burst? No, or at least not entirely. We do this, rather, in order to recognise ourselves, as a proxy for the recognition of others. We are reassuring ourselves that we do deserve better treatment and that this is something that any reasonable onlooker, were one present, would agree with.
Research shows if you believe someone is going to be an asshole, you will act hostile, thus causing them to act like an asshole. This same research shows if people think their partner doesn’t love them, they will interpret small slights as big hurts–and this will then lead to a feeling of rejection that causes the partner to distance him- or herself. The feedback loop will build and build until the prophecy is fulfilled. […]