Why Are You So Bothered?

Why some people feel the need to shade someone else’s success.

Janelle Elle
Nov 11, 2020 · 6 min read
An white Apple iPhone with an image of an angry face emoji.

Earlier this year, you may have heard about the drama that ensued between the unofficial mayor of Twitter, Chrissy Teigen, and Brooklyn-based cook and food author, Alison Roman (yes, that was *this* year). In addition to faithfully serving her over 13 million Twitter constituents with her amusing takes on anything and everything within her consciousness, Teigen’s well-known side hustles include being a media personality, model, and cookbook author, as well as mother to the infinitely adorable Luna and Miles, and wife to EGOT-winner John Legend (née Arthur the Aardvark). In an ill-advised moment of trying to keep it “100” during an interview with The New Consumer, Roman criticized Teigen’s audacity to capitalize on her immense popularity by expanding her successful Cravings cookbooks into a notable brand presence on social media and an equally successful cookware line sold at Targét stores nationwide.

Moving image of a little girl looking confused.
Moving image of a little girl looking confused.

Without delving into the problematic racial aspects of her comments (Roman also singled out tidying expert Marie Kondo in her criticisms — notice a pattern?), her remarks still leave me scratching my head in confusion to this day.

I had a similar reaction when YouTube’s peculiar algorithm recommended a video from a YouTuber who attended several live tapings of NBC’s late night TV show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, hosted by content creator, entertainer, author, and Soca-enthusiast, Lilly Singh. Interested in getting an audience member’s perspective of Singh’s new show, I naively fell for the clickbait title and proceeded to watch a too-long video that found fault with almost everything about the show. As an admirer of Singh’s hustle (and of the hustle shown by Teigen and Kondo in turning their passions into brands), I was thoroughly confused by the destructive criticism directed at Singh’s success. A single question crossed my mind in both instances: “Why is she so bothered?”

Sad, smiley, angry, and anxious emoticons.
Sad, smiley, angry, and anxious emoticons.

Nerd alert — I looked up the formal definition of “bothered” on Merriam-Webster and it defines the term as follows:

“feeling or showing agitation, worry, annoyance, etc.”

Also affectionately known as “trolls” on the World Wide Web, bothered people typically show their a** — sorry — agitation and annoyance on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, in the comment sections of Instagram and YouTube, and even in YouTube videos. Mommy shamers, mansplainers, body shamers, Karens, Chads, boomers, etc. also fall into the category of bothered people. And their unsolicited remarks are often directed at the profiles of people like Kondo, Singh, and Teigen who are successful in their own right and are just trying to live their best, unbothered lives.

I try my best to avoid these cesspools of negativity and focus my energy on cute dog videos, funny memes, and online shopping, especially during these quarantimes. But unless you are not on social media at all, bothered people are inescapable. So I wanted to try to understand the possible motivations for their behavior. Why do seemingly innocuous things make them feel so — well — bothered?

Sad clown doll sitting on a bench.
Sad clown doll sitting on a bench.

They are unhappy and/or envious…

I can relate. I mean, who hasn’t been unhappy with some aspect of their life at some point? And bearing witness to someone who appears to be thriving in their professional and/or personal life just serves as a bitter reminder of what you perceive is lacking in yours.

There are people who use these public images as inspiration to try and “do better” for themselves — whatever “better” personally means to them. And then there are bothered people who allow this bitterness to fester until they lash out. They try to take their target down a peg or two so that she can feel how they feel, even if it’s only for a brief moment as she scrolls through her comment section.

White smartphone with images of social media reactions.
White smartphone with images of social media reactions.

They desire clout and coins…

In a social media driven world where the number of followers you have or how many views, likes, or retweets your posts amass is — essentially — currency, it’s no wonder why people will do anything for clout. For bothered people, disparaging the accomplishments of someone who already has the power, influence, and wealth they desire is an easy way to get the attention they seek and quickly attain notoriety.

A drawing of a person saying “Ackchyually”.
A drawing of a person saying “Ackchyually”.

They’re doing you a favor…

Honestly, there is nothing wrong with providing constructive criticism. No one is perfect at everything they do (except maybe Beyoncé’s social media strategy). While it is not always easy to hear, most people would appreciate being given valid, insightful, and non-oppositional opinions about their work that they can then use to make improvements. Some bothered people truly believe that their comments are serving this very purpose. However, they usually seem to forget the “constructive” part of “constructive criticism.” As a result, their remarks lean more towards being destructive rather than helpful.

Gif from Childish Gambino’s official music video for the song, “This Is America”.
Gif from Childish Gambino’s official music video for the song, “This Is America”.

With all of this being said, everyone is entitled to their opinions and has the freedom to share them. This is America, after all. I mean, I wrote a whole-a** article with my opinion about why people are so bothered. But there are also very legitimate reasons to be agitated these days. For example, I am highly bothered by sexual predators and by the rampant racism, sexism, fascism, xenophobia, and homophobia (among other -isms and phobias) that are on full display these days. By all means, call out those people who condone such morally reprehensible ideologies and behaviors. The best scenario we can hope for is that they listen, learn, and do better next time.

A woman holding up a notebook with the words, “No Comment”, written on the page.
A woman holding up a notebook with the words, “No Comment”, written on the page.

But for those people who are genuinely trying to do what they love and share it with the world, is it really necessary to call them out if they are not intentionally taking food off of your plate, spreading misinformation and harmful messages, or stomping all over your civil liberties and rights?

If you are so bothered by this person, just don’t watch/read/listen to anything they have to offer. Don’t follow their social media accounts. Mute any mentions of them on Twitter. Block any recommendations for their videos on YouTube. If Teigen and Kondo’s decision to expand their branding opportunities is not the right decision for you, then don’t do it. And don’t attend several tapings of a TV show that you don’t like. There has to be better ways for you to spend your time and energy. Right?

If not, well, don’t be surprised if there are consequences for your burning need to shade someone else’s success. Case in point — Teigen revealed on Twitter that she had signed on to executive produce a TV show featuring Roman before Roman’s bridge-burning interview was published (oops). And following the controversy, Roman’s New York Times biweekly column was temporarily suspended by the newspaper. Finally, Singh announced that her NBC show was renewed for a second season and the network is currently streaming a sketch comedy show starring Singh on Peacock. So, in a world of bothered versus unbothered people, who is really getting the last laugh?

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Janelle Elle

Written by

I write articles about random ideas that pop into my head.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +724K followers.

Janelle Elle

Written by

I write articles about random ideas that pop into my head.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +724K followers.

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