Broke With Envy

On Real Clear Books today, I linked to Jessa Crispin’s latest literary advice column, on the subject of envy. Jessa counsels the married friend of a jealous single woman that being there for her will be “like trying to hug a crocodile: It might need the affection, and even be desperate for it, but it’s gonna take a chunk out of you if you try.”

The advice seeker professes not to “understand it” that her friend’s still single: “she’s beautiful and smart and so funny.” I do understand it, because I have dated That Girl, and she’s ugly. Oh, sure, she might be hot but envy is just about the least attractive personality trait a girl can have. It drapes everything in very unflattering shadows.

The envious girl can’t ever enjoy herself because every experience is reduced to a vicious Darwinian struggle for status. When she doesn’t have a boyfriend, she wants other women’s husbands. When she does have a boyfriend, she wants a better one. None of this can ever make her happy because she is essentially an emotional (and, for the purposes of long term relationships, guys, financial) black hole.

To be fair, I have also counseled That Guy. In fact, I have run into him a lot in Washington DC. He usually takes the form of a writer for me, because that’s the business I’m in. He may be funny and smart and, for all I know, good looking, but he’s constantly sabotaging himself.

The man sick with envy can never enjoy his successes because of the successes of others. He takes every business decision that doesn’t go his way as a personal affront. He blows perfectly good opportunities because he wants better ones. When he gets those better opportunities, he quickly manufactures reasons why they aren’t good enough. One struggles to communicate the point to him, and then finally gives up, that envy is awful for business.

I have often heard it said that envy is the one deadly sin from which we do not derive a lick of pleasure. That’s true enough, but more needs to be said. Envy renders people beyond pleasure. It’s like perpetual starvation not because you lack food but because you are unable to derive any sustenance from your food.

Take That, Mark Zuckerberg!

Analysts are throwing around all kinds of reasons for Facebook’s ongoing stock troubles. Here is what I think and hope will turn out to be a major reason for founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s heartburn: Timeline.

Most Facebook readers who have experienced it just do not like this way of organizing our profiles and our data. It’s ugly and it isn’t nearly as functional as the template it replaced. Zuckerberg has in the past ruthlessly ignored Facebook users’ input about how the social network ought to be organized. Sometimes that has worked for him, other times not so much.

But now you have a much worse organizational scheme being progressively imposed on all Facebook users, who are under no obligation to stay put. How could that negatively affect the company’s long-term valuation? Two words: MySpace.

Mark Zucherberg

Dangerous Lives of Altar Boy Jokes

A bunch of people who don’t like the Catholic Church have been smugging themselves silly over one of those images modeled on demotivational posters. You’re probably familiar with the genre if you’re on Facebook. People like to use these things to score political points while keeping the “What, it was only a joke” card up their sleeves if they get in real trouble.

This demotivational message is more heavy-handed than most, as the Facebook page from which it originates makes clear. I know this because a friend who is a mocker of religion commended it to me. It came along with the message, “The people who run the Catholic Church are utterly and staggeringly full of shit. LIKE and SHARE to raise awareness!” Thought I’d do my part:

Altar boy

Ha ha ha ha. That’s so funny! Way to stick it to the hypocritical, uptight, sexist, patriarchal, heteronormative sex worker of Babylon guys! High fives all around! Any Catholic who doesn’t laugh along with you clearly has no sense of humor!

Except, there’s one little problem, for those of us who actually go to church regularly. They’re really not called “altar boys” anymore except in an informal sense. The preferred term is “altar server,” and they tend to look a lot like, well, this:

altar girl

So, clearly, the Catholic Church will be changing its position. I mean, any day now. Right?