If there is one thing that I wholeheartedly believe in it’s the power of spite. Merriam-Webster calls spite “petty ill will or hatred with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart”, I call it the driving force behind much of my success and good fortune.
Let me take you to middle school. I wasn’t a happy kid then. I was usually withdrawn, silent in most unorganized social situations, and I had a tendency to erupt in anger. Well, one day I was in line to enter a class and two girls were talking about me literally behind my back. I still remember this conversation:
“Oh who cares about Patrick, he’s just going to kill himself anyway and nobody will care.”
“That’s not true, when he does it, we are all going to be sad.”
The wording may be off, granted this happened nearly a decade ago, but the last sentence always sticks with me. “When he does it…” This girl, who was trying to defend and stick up for me, had already written me off as a lost cause who will end up offing himself sooner or later. I was already a dead man, well it’s that sentence that made me come alive. I was going to prove them wrong. I was going to be petty by living, and thwart their plans to attend my funeral. I was going to be spiteful, just through the simple act of living. Believe me, my spite paid off.
Whether it was running six times before finally being elected to my high school’s student council, keeping a steady job when some belligerent teachers said I would be fired (and for some bizarre reason, arrested) because of my bullheadedness, referencing Saturday Night Live in my Core Humanities final, writing on topics of social and political importance for multiple publications, I can honestly testify that many times spite can lead to positive success.
Why? Simple, most people have a desire to prove the naysayers, the “haters”, the other guy, wrong. It’s a mixture of being competitive, vengeful, and greedy. While it can lead to negative effects and self-destruction, when used correctly it could lead to tremendous events and results nobody thought was possible. It’s the power of spite that got Donald Trump elected President of the United States, when everyone dismissed him as a lunatic showboat bigot, he went out and got elected. (Though, by no means take the preceding as an endorsement of Trump, I still think his policies are harmful to the country and I’m crossing my fingers that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti runs for president and takes Trump to the cleaners.)
Now, why am I saying all this? Because, in the past few years there has been attempts to silence opponents or ideas, only for the power of spite to propel the opposed to victory. Just the other day, a community college employee stole an alt-right speaker’s notes in an attempt to prevent that speaker from speaking. On top of that, entertainers like Melissa Etheridge, John Leguizamo, and Seth Rogen are boycotting SiriusXM over Steve Bannon hosting a radio show on the satellite radio service. These people, from the community college employee to those celebrities, are idiots. 100 percent, Grade-AAA, dumb-as-the-droppings-from-a -dog, idiots. Their actions are only going to cause their alt-right opponents to energize and fight back, all out of spite toward the people that tried to silence them. The same spite that can drive yourself to prove them wrong, could drive them to prove you wrong.
There have been many campaigns to be kind, be grateful, be outreaching. I say be spiteful. Prove anyone who dares to say that you can’t do something wrong, by doing that something. Spite is what created Dreamworks SKG, since Jeffrey Katzenberg was spurned from Disney and ended up creating Disney’s largest rival in animation. It was spite that helped Republican Senator from Minnesota Norm Coleman get defeated in 2008. Spite led Stephen Curry to sign with Under Armour, instead of Nike. Spite is like uranium, immensely powerful when used correctly, yet disastrous if misused.
As a part with this cherished institution, I urge you all to be positively spiteful. Prove people wrong when they tear you down. If they think you’re a dead man walking, keep living. Let that anger and passion that spite gives you and channel it into the next great creation. Just don’t allow others to be spiteful against you.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Patrick Hardin is a Noted Idiot. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.