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On Ungratefulness and Entitlement

Updated: Feb 24

Two young men

Ungratefulness is probably one of the most despicable personality traits in a world built on work, favour and tribute, whether or not these components are backed up by a personal gain such as money or any other compensation. When the person is ungrateful, they disregard the work others have done for them, and that disregard is stronger the more entitled a person feels.

When you're entitled, you believe you deserve something or a lot from someone or others, and when that thing you deserve does not come to you the way you want it, you'll disregard it or even insult those who have worked for you, to produce and serve the product you want to have.

There are times when entitlement is actually justified, and times when it isn't. The latter is most true when it is directed towards family, a friend or a volunteer. When you gain something while you didn't sacrifice much for it to come to the world, why then be ungrateful, even if the results didn't satisfy you completely?

The opposite for that, of course, comes when you pay expensively and receive a very disappointing product, such as a device that eventually becomes damaged beyond repair. Of course then you have the justification to complain to the company that sold you this product, as your investment could've been used for something else.

When it comes to things that are free, perhaps the biggest investment one uses is their time. Most people's time is important for them, as not everyone has much of it to spare. This is one of the reasons I write articles and, for the time being, not books, because when you read an article, you can just press X on the top of your screen and carry on.

When you read a book it's likely a bigger investment of your time, due to both being more content and it takes more time to read. In a the short-attention-span world of today, I believe content should be adjusted to the new demands of the future generations to come, who might not have the same patience and devotion as the older generations have. But I digress; merely an example.

Ungratefulness is quite repulsive because it shows the worker/volunteer/friend how little you value their devotion to you. Imagine working on something just to get it scolded. I'm not saying in any way that people at large are ungrateful, but there are those who are unaware of the work and effort things take in order to be created and published, from articles such as this to movies.

Even in bad movies, although it wasn't enjoyable, at least one can appreciate the time and effort that was dedicated to make this a reality. Not everyone is capable of writing a lot, nor producing movies, so why not, then, put the endeavour into the equation when we evaluate things, then?

The problem with ungratefulness is not only its repulsiveness, but also the usually-extreme high expectations people have towards things, and when these expectations don't fit the very specific spot, one may disregard the work entirely, overlooking the other positive aspects of said work/product. For instance, when you go to a restaurant that has both good service and good food, only to find that the waiter has given you the wrong drink, how would you act?

Of course, the reaction may vary from person to person, but in the end, it appears hard for many people to overcome perfectionist expectations towards those who honestly try to be as competent as they can. This is true in the restaurant business as it is in many other fields of occupation and service.

Should one aim satisfy those who are intentionally biased to dislike one's work? It is like the attempt to stop a person from getting away by laying on the floor and hug their leg while they drag you away. In the end, when it comes to occupation or even friendship, there should be standard to hold towards the target audience as the target audience has standards to you. Who likes to be belittled, especially for trying to do their job or volunteer? In the end it is impossible to please literary everyone that comes to you, so why bother aiming for perfection when you can aim to optimality?

Only the following ungrateful people should, ultimately, be taken without mere insult -- those who can help you by offering feedback and thus show you a different perspective. If we wish to overcome our biases and get closer to the truth, we ought to hear as many constructive commentaries as possible, and not only those which please us.

Finally, ungratefulness can be seen as a delusion about reality; the ungrateful may whine about not having something, but is that something that necessary for one to be satisfied with the results? Satisfaction isn't something that comes and goes; it is a choice we have to make, and since reality is often unfair and imperfect, why expect much more from someone when their endeavours have sufficed whatever criteria at hand nonetheless?

Even video games can be enjoyed from without the necessity of them having every feature one may think about that should be there. I remember as a kid fantasizing on what else could be in certain games that I really liked, but in the end, the product has been published, and the people who've worked on it have moved on to future projects. Why should there be resentment, then, when one can learn to enjoy the already existent? Does something has to be 10 out of 10 in order to be enjoyed from, to be effective in whatever it's trying to convey and so on?

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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