The “Gotcha” Personality and How It’s All Over Social Media

One of the least likable types of people is the “gotcha” personality. A “gotcha” personality seeks to catch you in a mistake. The motive of such a person isn’t to help you, but to make him- or herself look and feel good.

Why is this? There’s a type of person who feels good only because of the failures or errors of others. Deep down, to see another person falter enables him to tell himself, “It’s not just me”. A lot of this motivation is not conscious and it’s rarely acknowledged, but it’s what’s really going on, beneath all the drama and bravado of trying to show how you made a mistake.

Secure people are the precise opposite of the “gotcha” type. Secure individuals are motivated only by doing well and knowing what’s true. In many cases, the “gotcha” personalities do not have anything of real value to offer. They’re not pointing out a spelling error or a logical inconsistency, something that’s based on objective reality and actually could help you out. In most cases, the “gotcha” type seeks to put you down morally. We see a lot of this on Facebook and Twitter. Instead of making the logical case for or against something, the mental and intellectual laziness of the “gotcha” type takes over, and such a person rushes to moral judgments like, “You’re an idiot” or “That’s dishonest.”

Whenever I encounter someone like this, I don’t become angry. I do become annoyed, because the person is wasting my own time–failing to provide me with anything of concrete value, like an alternative argument, a spelling correction or something else of substance–and instead just offers moralistic aspersions or attacks. I find these attacks boring, because I know full well that (1) I am a moral and decent person who’s only after the truth, and (2) the person offering these attacks is in no position to know anything about me that would warrant such a conclusion. In sum, it’s annoying and boring to deal with such a “gotcha” mentality.

I use the phrase “gotcha” because it calls to mind the mentality of someone who’s not after truth and justice, but only cares about being right — specifically, being SEEN as right in the eyes of others one deems as important. Social media provides a forum for such mentalities to have a field day. I don’t blame this on social media itself. Social media like Facebook and Twitter did not create the “gotcha” mentality; social media merely provided the context where people could act that mentality out, if they have such psychological problems — as it appears many do! I always suspected (long before social media) that millions of people possessed such a low level of self-esteem and self-worth that they had the “gotcha” mentality. Only when social media came on the scene did I come to discover just how prevalent this neurosis bordering on psychopathology actually is. My goodness…it’s everywhere!

Many topics are covered on social media. Social media appeals to a mass market, so that means everything under the sun that human beings care to discuss is addressed: pets, children, family, spiritual or philosophical ideas, political issues, sports and music/television/movies/the arts. I love that such a forum exists and would never prefer to do away with it. I’d like to see more competition since giants like Facebook and Twitter may seek to control what millions of people say and think; only free markets and competition, not regulation and censorship, can save us from the biased mentalities who run these companies.

Sure, it’s necessary to set limits and parameters on social media, but that’s true of anything valuable. The thing that makes me sad, and at times angry, is the level of mental-intellectual sloppiness and laziness that social media in particular has exposed. If I landed on planet Earth from an advanced, highly rational civilization in another galaxy, the first thing that would strike me, particularly when viewing Facebook or Twitter, would be the lack of critical thinking that exists in this society. It’s not what people think that would strike me…but just how precious little thinking there is!

At some point, a lot of us — including many of us who think we’re highly intelligent — will have to take a look at the level of critical thinking we’re employing not just on social media, but in daily life. If it’s true that physically and nutritionally speaking, we ARE what we eat, it’s likewise true that psychologically and intellectually speaking, we ARE what we think. Good thinking habits are hard to come by, which is one of the reasons so many people succumb to the “gotcha” mentality. If you really felt serene and confident about your own mental, cognitive and intellectual states, you wouldn’t need to attack others for the sake of making yourself look superior, would you?

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