It’s often stated as supposed fact, but I heard this said again recently.  I was told that in the UK, the general public loves to build up an individual to an extreme level, and then relish the pleasure in tearing them down again.  Another version of this, is that in the UK we resent and even despise other people’s success, whereas in the USA, success is celebrated.  The converse dictates that we also then condemn a failure, as just desserts for someone getting above their station.

I’d like to go on record as stating my belief that this is arrant nonsense, plainly not true, and a self affirming “truism” perpetuated by the tabloid newspapers, who have a vested interest in the “build up/ tear down” process.  I know from some personal experience, and that of people I know, that sections of the British Press make it their business to manipulate these scenarios, with zero regard for the truth, other than as the plausible structure upon which blatant sensationalist lies can be draped.  Anyone who appears in the press regularly will know this to be an inescapable truth, and furthermore, that they are powerless to challenge it.  Rather, it is in their best interests to attempt to play the game, and hope they don’t get stung.  Perhaps they have made a deal with the devil, but ordinary civilians get treated with the same journalistic disdain.

The argument is made, that if people didn’t agree with it, they wouldn’t buy these newspapers.  However I don’t think buying a paper can be claimed as an endorsement of its stance, but rather a result of inertia and lack of choice.  The very best example of people voting with their feet, is the absolute refusal of Liverpool residents to buy The Sun newspaper, in light of its outrageous treatment of their city.  Unfortunately, this is all too rare.

Again, in my experience, ordinary members of the public mostly have nothing but congratulations and admiration for those who succeed in business, the arts, or other endeavours.  This is moderated only by the odd grumble.  I’ve known several people who have been spectacularly successful in business and music, and have never witnessed any serious bitching about their good fortune.  I admit to genuine envy myself, and have told them so, but in me, as with most others, their success inspires continued and redoubled efforts to emulate it.

I’ll leave you with this;  In Glasgow, it’s much more common to hear the phrase, “Good on ye” or “Gaun yersel big man” rather than “Jammy bastard”.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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