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A Sense of Entitlement

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 8, 2023

Entitlement. Privilege. Obnoxiousness.

We all deal with these things every day, whether we want to or not. It comes in all shapes and sizes. From the kid that throws a tantrum if they can't take some other random kid's toy to the adult that is pissed they stole your sandwich from the communal fridge but didn't have the filling they liked, and complain to you about it.

The thing is that very young children have an obnoxious entitlement naturally because they haven't yet been socialized to the concept of property, boundaries, or that people may feel different or want different things from what they are feeling or wanting- that's a developmental stage. It's also where proper parenting comes in, to begin that socialization and teach the kid that tantrums aren't the best way to handle frustration and that asking to share a toy yields better results than yanking that toy from another dude's grip.

If proper parenting doesn't come in, the environment creates a learning history that will school the kid as they grow up that tantrums don't pay and being polite and asking is more likely to get them results than not…

…or does it?

Well, the existence of adults that still throw tantrums when they don't get their way and totally do steal other people's stuff ‘because they want it/need it/deserve it more’ (justification may vary on the surface but it comes down to these three options) is evidence that it doesn't always do so.

An entitled person, or a privileged person is always a result of their environment. Nobody is born an obnoxious twat and nobody is born feeling that they deserve better treatment from the world than anyone else.

All of this is taught. And when I say ‘taught’, I mean that the entitled person has had a learning history of behaviors that were reinforced rather than inhibited by their environment which led to them becoming entitled.

Have you ever had a sibling or cousin or other family member spout off 100% pure nonsense about a topic you know well, only to have your mother, father, grandparents or whoever whisper in your ear to let it go to “keep the peace” or to “let them have this one or they'll be sad”?

This is them teaching this person that they can spout off nonsense with impunity. That means they will never have the need to learn to share accurate facts, will continue to say inaccurate or stupid things, and will feel insulted if in the future someone doesn't let them get away with it.

And thus, entitlement is born.

In today's day and age, we tend to think that “privilege” is only referring to privileged classes: the rich, white people, westerners, pick your social group. And while these social groups have a high prevalence of privilege for sure, they aren't the only ones.

Privileged individuals can exist in shanty towns. Slums. Prisons, Anywhere and everywhere. All it takes for privilege to be given to someone, is for the treatment their environment consistently gives them to be inordinately favorable compared to that of everyone else. Bam. Privilege. Yes, they may be poor or destitute among destitutes, but if they feel entitled to other poor people's stuff, relationships, dreams, etc., then they're privileged and will develop the privileged attitude you'd expect to encounter in posher watering holes.

That said, a privileged person in one setting and environment may be the underprivileged person in another, which is a fascinating thing. Consider a middle class person with privileged attitude that cuts in line at the supermarket because they feel they're entitled to it. If that same person is magically dropped in the super posh delicatessen that caters to the jet set, the servants of those jet setters will cut in line before the middle class person and that middle class person will take it. Because the setting, the environment, is different.

This is a pattern that repeats in multiple contexts when we have people that are damaged in their socialization into developing an entitled, privileged attitude: they will step on those they feel are under them, and expect to be stepped on by those they feel are superior to them. They will duke it out with those they feel are their equals.

This is a fascinating personality trait which you can incorporate in your character design to add nuance to a main character, antagonist, or villain while also making some commentary on the character's environment and/or their ‘natural’ society in general without needing to infodump about social issues or preach on a soap box.

I'll wrap this up with a hint of how this pattern is quite prevalent in societies. I'll share an old and pretty wellworn Greek joke that I'll translate to the best of my capacity (and still make it unfunny via translation) about entitled people that should have no business being entitled:

It's morning rush hour in a bus stop, which is quickly getting crowded as people are waiting for the bus. The bus does arrive and they all rush to get in. Such is the push to get in that a guy gets literally carried in by the river of people and shoved into another dude already in the bus. This dude huffs and says “how dare you push me!? Don't you know who I am?”
So the guy laughs and says with sarcasm “who could you possibly be you poor devil's fart, when you're in a bus in central Athens at 6 am on your way to work?”

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Tantz_Aerine at 6:15AM, April 8, 2023

Marcorossi: well said.

marcorossi at 5:57AM, April 8, 2023

While it is true that some people tend to be entitled, there is also the opposite problem, that some people can be socialized into being the "bottom rung", and never realize/ask for being treated better. It is a difficult thing because the "normal" level of expectations is a social creation, in theory there should be a normal expectation of equality but in reality societies work with a lot of hierarchies so it is difficult, IMHO, to tell what is the "correct" level of entitlement.

bravo1102 at 1:02AM, April 8, 2023

The joke sounds like a sequence from a 1930s movie probably with William Powell as a down on his luck millionaire probably in disheveled formal wear. "Don't you know who I am?" "Who could ya be buddy, to be on dis bus, in dis neighborhood during rush hour?" Entire bus laughing.

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