On the Universality of so-called Crab Mentality
Sabi ng isa kong katrabaho na Puti, papasok raw siya sa trabaho nang marinig niya sa radio na ang pinag-uusapan ay yung tinatawag daw na crab mentality. Ayon raw sa dalawang Filipino na nag-uusap, ang crab mentality raw ay kaugalian ng mga Filipino na magsiraan at maghilahang pababa dahil sa inggit sa kapwa. Tanong sa akin ng katrabaho kong iyon, kung totoo nga raw ba iyon. Interesado rin siyang malaman kumbakit ang tawag sa pagsisiraan sa kapwa ay ‘crab mentality.’
This term simply refers to the tendency of a person to feel envious or jealous of others because of their achievements or accomplishments. While we can claim that this tendency is universal and may be common among many people, the difference lays on how each individual process this feeling and control or manage it. Some people may turn this into something positive by viewing it as admiration that may inspire them instead into becoming better persons. But then, of course, there are also people who couldn’t handle their feelings of envy, which cause them to do bad things like negatively criticizing the people of their envy, discredit them or, worse, fabricate lies and gossips that may result in destroying the reputation, credibility, or social standing of the people whom they feel jealous of.
Having described the habit, it now becomes clear that crab mentality is not exclusive to the Filipino culture. Crab mentality is simply a Filipino term for “uncontrollable feelings of envy.” And any person—whatever the race or nationality—may be prone to it. It is just a matter of how to control or manage such negative emotions and turn them into something positive for one’s betterment.
Therefore, yes—while there may be lots of Filipinos who have crab mentality, there are obviously many Filipinos who do not; or at the least, could manage such feelings and turn them into something positive for the goodness of themselves and others. And because feelings of envy and jealousy are basic human emotions, they may be observed in any other cultures as well. So, crab mentality is, after all, not a Filipino trait; it is a universal trait shared by people of any nationality who could not handle or control their envy for the success of others.
Now, the next question is, where does the very term ‘crab mentality’ come from? Why is the term common in the Filipino culture?
The Origin of the Term Crab Mentality
Actually, ‘crab mentality’ came from the vernacular term “talangka” mentality. ‘Talangka’ (shore crabs or river crabs) are small species of crabs that are common in the Philippines. Because they are relatively inexpensive, these crabs have become a staple food of the common Filipino. It may be prepared or cooked in the same way one cooks lobsters. Now, the way these crabs are being sold in the market—they are placed in big containers out of where the crabs try to escape. The action of the crabs—using their pincers and legs—escaping out of the containers by crawling onto the sides and on top of each other, pulling one another down, as if trying to outdo or outrun each other—is the very action that has been used to illustrate a person’s tendency to destroy the reputation or discredit others.
Sa Madaling Salita
Ang tinatawag na crab mentality ay namamalas hindi lamang sa kulturang Filipino. Dahil ang inggit sa kapwa ay pangkalahatang emosyon, na maaaring magtulak sa isang tao na gumawa ng hakbang para maisahan o masira ang taong kanyang kinaiinggitan, ang kaugaliang ito ay makikita rin sa iba’t ibang bansa, lahi, o kultura.
Nasa sa indibidwal na iyan kung paano niya gagawing positibo ang pakiramdam na iyan. Imbes na siraan niya ang ibang tao e mas mabuti na gamitin niya ang tagumpay ng kapwa para magsikap at magtiyaga siyang makamit ang sariling tagumpay na ang ginagamit ay sariling kakayanan at abilidad.