Envy is the gateway to evil.

Anything becomes justifiable if the target is someone you envy. Think LONG AND HARD about that.

Lucy the Diviner
9 min readOct 23, 2023
Photo by Mathew Browne on Unsplash

Yes, I said what I said: evil. I refuse to be nuanced for this one. Envious people can be so vicious, primitive, barbaric, psychopathic and irrational that I risk saying they are a danger to themselves and others. There is no redeeming quality. They’re pure EVIL as long as they remain unwilling to address and heal from the envy they feel; As long as they keep trying to justify their despicable, pathetic hatred with self-pity and entitlement, I am not extending any amount of empathy to them either. Sorry, not sorry.

No, I’m not talking about the celebrity above. I’m talking about her haters.

As a millennial, I lived the 90s and early 2000s. I can vividly remember the time when Britney was almost universally adored. She wasn’t just “some pop singer”, she represented and embodied an ideal for a lot of little girls all over the globe. Even if you weren’t into her music, you probably would still try to copy her fashion and personal preferences. She was an influencer before influencers were cool.

By the way, for those of you saying she has no talent or anything special to show, enjoy the following analysis:

If you’re short on patience: he talks about not only how she uses the “Hendrix chord” in Toxic, but also other unusual (and quite honestly, creative) elements of musicality like microtonal singing and autotune as an intentional distortion that contrasts with her REAL singing on the rest of the song — the latter, probably a response to the widespread rumours that she was autotuned. All of that is to say: even if she didn’t write and produce this piece of music alone, she undeniably left her own creative mark on it.

But let’s disregard for a minute the fact that she can indeed make interesting music that isn’t the “same old pop” we’re sick of hearing everywhere — yes, she started out as a child star, and as such, she was lucky enough that the adults in her life wanted to put money and energy into making her famous. This is why a lot of people think, to this day, she is “overrated” or “never actually deserved to rise to fame”, or even, more cold-heartedly, that they “support the conservatorship she was put under” (Have you ever paid attention to the lyrics of Lucky? No? You should).

Truth is, no matter how many music theorists come forth to educate you about how “surprisingly” original her work and legacy are, Britney’s haters will keep on hating. It doesn’t come from ignorance, because ignorance can be cured with information. It doesn’t simply come from “taste” either, because when you just dislike someone’s work based on taste, you don’t literally wish slavery on that person.

It’s envy.

This envy, which is to some degree always present when we we look at celebrities, gets exacerbated in Britney’s case for the following reasons:

  1. She is a white, cis, privileged woman from a white, cis, privileged background. She didn’t suffer any hardships “worth noting” in childhood, doesn’t have an inspirational story of rags to riches, and definitely didn’t fight tooth-and-nail on her own for her rise to fame because her mammy and daddy were well off and backed her up from the start.

Isn’t she lucky, this Hollywood girl?

2. Her voice isn’t the most remarkable out there. I mean, she doesn’t have a super recognisable unique voice like Bjork, Michael Jackson, or Amy Winehouse. Her music style is quite “vanilla”, and despite what music theorists would say (refer again to the video above), truth is, to the untrained ear, it’s probably just overproduced and shallow. So, we’re ruling out “uniqueness” — this powerful shield behind which other similarly lucky/privileged celebrities (and, dare I add: equally “crazy” with an equal, if not worse, story of substance abuse) safely hide from the public hatred and scrutiny. This is all to say: on a first impression, our knee-jerk reaction is to simply consider her “unfairly” lucky.

She’s so lucky, she’s a star

3. Britney went on to become iconic and symbolic of an entire decade, dictating the norm (or, in a way, the new normal) because of her influence and charisma. Let me return to the comparison above: who even wears swan dresses just because Bjork did, unironically moonwalks like Michael Jackson did, or emulate Amy Winehouse’s style without literally tagging her name? Nobody. They did NOT become, let alone dictate, “the norm” either musically or in terms of fashion. Britney did, though — and that’s also the reason a lot of people think she is “vanilla”. This is not to say these other musicians weren’t influential in other ways, of course they were (or still are — in Bjork’s case. I’m a big fan if you can’t tell) but they’re quirky and unique and probably didn’t/don’t even WANT everyone else to imitate them. That’s their whole “shtick”. Britney, on the other hand, never actually minded becoming this early influencer of sorts. Hence, people label her shallow and full of herself.

But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart, thinking
If there’s nothing missing in my life
Then why do these tears come at night?

3. It wasn’t her initial choice, as a child, to go for a career in music. Obviously she was influenced and manipulated by the adults in her life to go for auditions and such. The thing is… She didn’t dislike it either. We’re not looking at a Jenette McCurdy here. We’re looking at a celebrity who was given an “unfair” advantage since an early age and decided to run with it and see where it would lead her. I mean… Jenette does not act anymore and is reportedly glad her mom died. Britney, on the other hand, still sings. She still has fun with music and performative dance, nowadays without caring much about the public opinion. Again: try not to read into my words with an overly extremist interpretation. I’m not saying I am against Jenette’s approach (hey, I bought her book. And I recommend it to everyone). I’m saying one celebrity is clearly more “relatable” than the other when it comes to public opinion. Hence, the other one will be envied and hated more freely.

As Natalie wisely points out in the video above (it’s long but OH SO WORTH IT), we are generally not inclined to empathise with a person who doesn’t make an effort to remove “the sting” from their admission of privilege. So, even though in theory we like to say people should “check their privilege”, IN PRACTICE WHAT WE REALLY MEAN IS people should make sure to downplay themselves enough in order to prevent the evil eye from all of the onlookers. And that’s precisely what Britney did not do.

Now… When I say “evil eye”, I’m not only talking about the woo. I’m also talking about a metaphor which can be used for very concrete, very non-spiritualistic consequences of envy, such as mob mentality.

Otherwise, a lot more onlookers would have called bullshit when she was first put under a conservatorship. But since the general public didn’t really feel particularly empathetic towards her (because she wasn’t #relatable), at the first sign of an alleged mishap on her part, they abandoned her. Just like we abandon people we envy. Secretly, we’re like “yassss! There it is! My reason for externalising this irrational hate I kept inside me so long. You’re finally not perfect anymore, Britney! Take that, Britney! That’s your punishment for making me feel so bad about myself”.

Admiration turns into neglect very, very easily. All you need for that to happen is a very internalised, very egotistic sense of envy buried under several layers of denial.

You can’t have envy without an overinflated ego.

Warning: this pill is even harder to swallow if you’re into spirituality or psychology (or insert self-improvement industry here) and consider yourself “moral and good”.

Photo by danilo.alvesd on Unsplash

Envy doesn’t only happen to celebrities. It’s not a coincidence I am blogging about Britney Spears although I’m not even a proper fan of hers. I relate to her situation.

Yes, you read what you read. There are people who envy my mediocrity. Hence, anything is possible.

Rule of thumb: there’s no need to be rich and/or famous. You become an easy target for envy when you refuse to play by the societal rule of diminishing yourself to make others look bigger. It doesn’t matter how lame you think you are, there is always someone who desires a thing you have and take for granted. I mean, look at me, I’m basically broke, virtually no-one knows me by name, and I look plain as fuck in real life, yet I do have a legion of haters who keep hiding under fake usernames (or shall I call them secret admirers?), simply because I have one thing they don’t: my 6th sense and quick wits, I guess.

Meanwhile, I have very dear friends I regularly talk to who keep remarking to me (or trying to cheer me up? I’ll never know) that I do have qualities they wish they had. But have these people EVER abandoned me or underhandedly stabbed me in a time of need? No. Never. That’s because their ego isn’t overinflated. What they feel is jealousy — a thing I occasionally reciprocate and tell them about. It’s not envy. Envy is more intense and destructive.

In order to feel “proper” envy, you need an overinflated ego because you need the entitlement that comes with it. A casually jealous person would think/feel “wow, I really admire this thing about this person. I hope I can emulate that someday”. The envious, on the other hand, would rather dream of the person’s demise because then, only then, they will find peace (aka, no longer be reminded of the dreams they buried and someone else DARES to pursue).

When you don’t have an overinflated ego, you’re capable of “taking the hit” of witnessing someone else achieve a thing you wish you had. That’s because you KNOW the world does not spin around you, so you go like “well, there must be a reason why, which still escapes my comprehension”. Now, contrast that to an envious person’s self-righteous assumption that “no! I know everything! I’m right about everything! This person only exists to annoy ME. Because I said so”. (This is, again, buried under several layers of denial).

A non-envious person who perhaps feels jealous once in a while is capable of empathising with someone they consider “better than” them because, again, they don’t want the post of know-it-all. They’re open to the possibility that this amazing, outstanding person they feel jealous of also has their own traumas and struggles, even if invisible to the public eye. So, it’s “okay”. Nothing alarming to see. No envy is triggered.

In the end of the day, this isn’t about the person who is object of your admiration. It’s about you — your reactions to that, and your (un)willingness to own these reactions without projecting them on some strawman or scapegoat.

Envy is an evil that permeates every sphere of life. Even social justice movements (yes, I went there). It’s the difference between not-so-ironically joking that you want to “eat the rich” (because everything is fair game when envy is at play? Even cannibalism, apparently) VS acknowledging that this joke is of poor taste and goes to show some people’s envy of the rich. Yes, absolutely, a lot of rich people are arseholes — but that doesn’t mean IF ONLY YOU GOT RID OF THIS ONE PERSON the problem would never happen again in the world. I’m sorry to inform but that wouldn’t be justice. That would be envy doing what it does best. Why not, instead, look into the deeper roots of this societal problem? Oh, but that’s no fun. There are no specific faces and names to drag over the mud.

The same people who say “eat the rich” dream of winning the lotto. I rest my case.

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Lucy the Diviner

Oracle and spirit worker based in Ireland. Buddhist/polytheist. I don't read minds. I don't change minds. I don't sugarcoat. Take my message or leave it.