I recently decided to do some decluttering, and put some items up for sale on the local buy and sell pages with dread in my heart. Why? When I post items I do my best to research a fair price for all involved, take tones of pictures to show what the buyer is going to get, post an accurate description, and answer all questions received. Even though I do all of this I usually get people who try to under cut the price, or act in poor behaviour when wanting the item. With all that said, I don’t blame people for trying to get a deal or acting aggressively when they really want something. But an incident happened today that I thought was a very good example of what I see a lot of…entitlement.
So what is entitlement? Entitlement is when a person feels they deserve special privileges, and act arrogantly about it. The term “culture of entitlement” has developed to describe that many people have highly unreasonable expectations about what they feel they are entitled to. The subject of entitlement seems to have been swirling around in various conversations that I have been part of recently. Are we developing into a society of entitled people? Who is entitled to what, and what makes people feel they are more entitled than others?
Entitlement, or having a feeling that we have the right to something can be a healthy way of thinking. For example, for a small child it is a normal part of development to feel like they are the centre of the world. It is part of early stages of development, but is part of a parental role to help a child recognize that while the child is important, that it is equally important to realize and respect the boundaries and rights of others.
Often feelings of entitlement arise from feeling mistreated or disrespected, and that a person feels they deserve treatment better than what was received. This actually is also healthy. It is a shift towards self-respect, but with this shift a person needs to find a balance between self-respect and respectful behaviour towards others. Entitlement is of value to adults. The belief that we have the right to take care of ourselves and our families, and not to be hurt by them is vital to one’s well being. But the belief that we are entitled to get special treatment or go to the front of a line is not a healthy view or productive actions in society. As much as entitlement is healthy in some ways, our society is not necessarily supportive of the development of a healthy balance.
Which leads us to my adventure of today. A person purchased an item from me, and after picking it up she contacted me to say she was upset it had two scratches (which the posting listed and pictures showed). She was also unhappy it was dusty even though the listing said it was dusty since it was in storage. I tried reason, and redirected her to the posting. She said she felt she should pay less because of the dust. I stated I did not agree since the posted price was lower because it was dusty.
She felt entitled because she felt wronged. I get that, and attempted to point out the advertisement was accurate, and she viewed the condition when she picked it up. It was not a problem then, but when she took the machine home (that sells for $300 used normally) she then had a problem and decided to lash out. My question was why? What does it solve attacking others? She didn’t want a refund because she admitted she knew these machines are $500 new. So what was the point?
The answer is there was no point. Usually in adults entitlement comes from, as said before, a feeling of being wronged. When these feelings are not addressed and the individual does not learn to respect other people’s boundaries or how to speak respectfully, poor actions result that can bleed into all of a person’s interactions. On a large scale this affects not only all interactions that a person has, but affects society as a whole.
As a world wide community, we have huge problems…people do not have access to food, shelter, and clean water. People are fighting for equality with race, gender, and religion. Areas of our world are fighting and killing each other. Yet we as individuals do not have the foresight to realize that acting entitled is not helping. There are more important things in the world than to sit behind a keyboard and attack people for no reason.
So what did I do? I thanked her for her time, and told her that I do not agree with her stance. I told her that I feel that I made an attempt to work through things, but it seems that she was not interested in that and that I will not accept her behaviour. I also said that I hoped everything in her life was going well, and that she enjoys the machine. There is no arguing with someone who is acting entitled. They only want to jump in front of that time, yell at who they want, and get stuff for free. The only thing one can do is tell the individual what behaviour you will accept, and set up boundaries. Just because they may not have balance does not mean they should be allowed to take yours.