A recent article I saw on my feed was how parents were pushing for rewarding children who just participated and never had any worthwhile achievements. The derogatory symbol for it is the participation trophy. It’s another extreme of the false positivism and self-esteem movement. Some believe that any sort of criticism, such as pointing out what someone is doing wrong, is an attack on the person and causes depression. Instead, shower them with praises to make them feel good. The problem is, it will do more harm than good.
Participation trophies are actually more a new iteration of an old folly. As the Mens Journal article I linked to says, parents are also to blame. Some parents want children to be instruments of their own vainglory. But because their children are not achievers, they instead “fix” the game in a way, by insisting on trophies just for participation. And they do it for themselves, not for their children. Instead of teaching children to work for what they want, they instead rub off that it’s all right to get something for nothing. It teaches mendicancy and spoiling.
I wrote that celebration of people is overrated because it doesn’t perpetuate positivity, but instead bloats one’s ego at the expense of other people. People want to be “loved,” and they believe being celebrated is and being loved. But it isn’t. It is actually narcissism. It only makes assholes out of people and gives them a false sense of security. Break that illusion, and the person could slip into depression. Thus, the participation trophy/profuse praise movement makes people more prone to depression and mental illness. Even the body-positive movement is encouraging false praise, though I’ll get more into that in a future article.
Today’s world has commercialized that kind of egoism. Beauty products, “reality” TV competitions, and selfie culture have fooled people into desiring narcissism. It’s also part of the rat race culture, because the more praises you have, the more you feel like you’re ahead of the other, on top. It makes you believe in The Secret baloney and believe you’ll be rich just by wishing it. And while rich, people dream of making other people their slaves and treat other people like crap. It sends dopamine to the brain. But it’s a high that could come crashing down anytime – and deserves to – when reality lays down the hurt against your desire.
It does seem pretty hard to refuse to idolize and praise, and to even tell them the truth. Some people may even hit you because you are silent and they see it as refusal to acknowledge their “beauty.” You shouldn’t let them do that. Tell them that their beauty isn’t your beauty, and you’re not obliged to heap praises onto anyone.
I do understand why the participation trophy culture started though. It’s intended to counter the effects of other people talking down on and bullying them. However, they should realize that the participation trophy culture actually increases instead of diminishes it. It can attract even more bullying. Your seeking praises actually puts a target sight on you. Perhaps there’s a reason why that saying attributed to Chinese or Asian parenting is getting popular: don’t give so much praise to kids, or their heads will swell and they will not be able to handle life well.
Perhaps a key is the approach to how to say it. My principle is, if you should hate the sin and not the sinner, then praise the good deed, not the do-gooder. Give praise for things done well, not for who they are. Same with criticism. Praise the person’s actions and explain what they did right, and not extol the person themselves; avoid phrases like, “you are awesome all the way,” “you are the greatest person in the world,” “you are magnificent,” etc. However, on the negatives, I do agree on not insulting, demean or personally attack them, calling people “worthless” or “stupid.” If they really did something stupid, call that action stupid, not the person. Encouragement to improve and do better are good to give, especially with tips. But never do it in a way that makes the person believe their achievements are natural to them, or it will bloat their egos.
Of course, many people will try to counter, what is wrong with you? If you don’t heap praises on people it, you’re a jerk, unloving, unChristian, cruel, negative, you’re hurting others’ feelings, you’re fascist and anything like that. Just make people feel good, don’t oppose them! But then again, don’t oppose people heaping praises on politicians. One of the things that also reminded me of this topic was re-reading Ilda’s article about not treating politicians like celebrities. That makes this whole topic of praises and false trophies relevant to Filipino culture’s problems. Let’s add my article about not giving people like celebrities or “royalty” special treatment. Treating people, whether famous or ordinary, like this contradicts today’s ideas about equality and encourages narcissism, egoism and lack of personal responsibility. It would be hypocritical if you hate how people praise politicos and such, but don’t mind heaping praises on your favorite celebrities, singer or actors, even if they commit crimes or act like asses. People worship is an idiocy that sometimes people don’t realize they’re doing.
One recent event that might demonstrate the folly of a praise-seeking attitude is Serena Williams’ tantrum during her loss to Naomi Osaka in the US Open tennis match. There were even boos against Osaka because she wasn’t a crowd favorite. I guess that’s part of the dumbness of the personality cult of Serena Williams where people believe she deserves praise because of who she is, and are unwilling to accept the truth of her being beaten. And many other commentators do believe the tantrum was Serena’s airheadedness coming out. Although she calmed down and congratulated Osaka in the end, her folly was still recorded for the world to learn from (as was her tantrum in 2009 in a match against Kim Clijsters). So Osaka deserves the praise for winning, but of course, it should be praise for her win, and not for her person, lest it can get to her head too.
This is all because of movements and cultures that fool people into believing they can’t be happy without receiving praise or affirmation, when in fact they don’t need it. So when they don’t receive such praises, if they don’t get depressed, they lash out and hurt others, calling them “negative,” but in fact they are the ones who are negative. And, if they believe others should have praises, they don’t do it out of love: they do it in exchange for favors. Thus, believing that people need praises to live is an egoistic idiocy, and it only serves to encourage people to act like asses in life.
A follower of our blog messaged me that Filipinos like to receive praise even if they do nothing that deserves it. It means they want to be lords, “greater than others,” and such, and get eaten up when they lose. Then it’s no wonder why our country remains poor and a laggard. Filipinos should give up looking for praise. Even if they do a good job, they should not look for praise; just keep doing the good job. After all, life itself doesn’t give us any praise, but simply just makes us reap what we sow.