A Societal Sensation that Blurs Lines and Causes People to Behave Spitefully
By: Brielle Sparacino
The word “petty” in regards to one’s behavior means by definition that an individual is “characterized by an undue concern for trivial matters, especially in a small-minded or spiteful way.”
To break it down into simpler phrasing, to be petty means to focus on an insignificant issue or situation and blow it completely out of proportion for no reason.
Pettiness is no stranger to our 21st century society. The act of being petty has been passed down for generations, and its presence has only become more prominent since social media’s steadfast integration into our daily lives.
For instance, female musicians have recorded diss tracks about other female musicians since the early 2000’s, and beauty gurus have begun to upload YouTube videos about other beauty gurus they’ve run into problems with over the course of their internet career.
While in this day and age, it’s much more common to see grown women and young girls practice pettiness on a regular basis, the hardest thing to wrap one’s head around is that both genders take part in this pointless phenomenon all of the time.
Here’s an example of pettiness from a woman’s point of view: Let’s say you finally signed up for Tinder due to your friend’s incessant hounding, and you actually matched with someone you thought was cute. After a few days of communication strictly within the app, that person asks for your phone number, and you give it to them.
From that point forward, you’re messaging each other nonstop for a week. Here comes the fun part, however, after that blissful honeymoon phase of just getting to know each other, the texts become shorter.
One-word answers are your new best friend, and you don’t know why. Instead of confronting the issue head-on and asking your new potential love-interest what their deal is, you start responding to their messages the same way they’ve been responding to yours.
An example of pettiness from a man’s point of view is as follows: You and your significant other have just recently moved in together. All is well at this stage since you two are still learning the other’s living habits. You’ve both got full-time jobs to pay the rent, but you still divide up house chores to be done every week.
Your significant other is on dish and laundry duty, and you take out the trash and clean the furniture. Let’s just say that it was a long week, you need your clothes to be clean for the next morning, and your partner only did their laundry before passing out for the evening. As a result, you’ve got to do your own laundry, and when the time comes that your partner needs their laundry done, you only complete your portion (even if it was an honest mistake on their part).
I feel as if the examples I’ve just described are more tame in comparison to the more ludicrous situations that have most definitely occurred at some point by someone, but you get the idea. As I explained before, pettiness is truly a one-of-a-kind concept. It is a behavior that is learned and taught, not something that is ingrained in us. With that being said, is it ever really okay to be petty?
The answer to this question is subjective. There will be readers skimming through this article who believe being petty on a frequent basis is perfectly fine because the target of their pettiness may have had it coming to them. There will also be readers who are strongly against this kind of behavior because ultimately, it doesn’t solve an issue; instead, it escalates it.
Regardless of what your answer might be to the proposed question, nearly everyone has been petty at some point in their lifetime. It may have been done jokingly or unknowingly, but not unintentionally. That’s the thing about pettiness; there is no way you can’t act this way on purpose. It takes extra effort as well as energy to be angry or upset about an issue so trivial in order to react maliciously about it.
Here’s a challenge: going forward, try to let certain things roll off your shoulders if they aren’t worth raising hell about, and confront the people/issues that are bothering you enough to cause you to lose sleep over them. This should help you to realize what is important in your life, and what is not.