This morning, Sam pointed us towards this story. It seems Kevin Pietersen suspects some of his team-mates of running a parody Twitter account in his name. Is this the modern sportsman’s equivalent of “he’s calling me names behind my back”?
It seems very, very unlikely that Graeme Swann, Jimmy Anderson or anyone else would be doing this, not least because half the tweets appear during Test matches. However, the mere fact that KP thinks this way highlights a massive problem.
For most people, paranoid feelings don’t come from nowhere. There needs to be a microbe of truth in the first place and then, like mould and mildew, these feelings need the right habitat in order to thrive.
For KP, it doesn’t seem that much of a leap to think that people are publicly broadcasting his worst qualities for their own and others’ amusement, even though these very same people are quite literally on his side.
If someone were actually doing that, it would be pretty horrendous, but take that antipathy down a few notches and it would still be pretty bloody awful. That second, lower notch is probably the reality. That is not a good relationship.
Relationships are fluid. There are billions of different elements sloshing about, so they never retain exactly the same shape for even a moment. When the majority of the liquid’s in the right place, it’s all a piece of piss. However, when things slosh the other way, you need to rely on the fundamentals. We could maybe think of these as being sediment – thick, viscous stuff that doesn’t really move.
In the England cricket team, the relationship sediment is the desire to help England win at cricket. That’s the one thing that everyone in the team should have in common.
When things are going well and the relationship liquid’s mostly in the right place, no-one questions anything. They don’t need to – everything’s fine. However, when England start losing and the relationship liquid slides the wrong way, the sediment is revealed and there’s always doubt with KP, isn’t there? No matter what he says or does, his origins and history encourage people to question his motives.
In any relationship, you need at least one common goal. If you ain’t got that, you ain’t got owt. Sometimes merely suspecting that the other person feels differently is enough to make things go tits up, even if that isn’t actually true.
The cause of arrogance
The situation is exacerbated by Kevin Pietersen’s arrogance. It is both a cause and a symptom and it is responsible for a vicious circle which is killing his relationships with his team-mates.
Every arrogant individual is laced with insecurity. If you are telling the world how good you are, it is because you want people to see your value. You need the world’s appreciation.
This isn’t intrinsically bad. Arrogance is both a strength and a weakness. It’s a weakness because it’s really annoying and obnoxious. It’s a strength because a satisfied person is inherently complacent and insecurity is generally what breeds drive and ambition.
An insecure person might measure their value in terms of money, attractiveness or their impact on the world, but in some way or another, they will always be striving for more points in their game of life.
The perception of arrogance
When someone talks about how marvellous they are and how the whole bloody world revolves around them, you can think: “That poor, insecure individual. If only his mother had loved him as much as she’d loved his three brothers, Tony, Greg and Bryan Pietersen, then maybe he wouldn’t have this desperate need to feel valued every second of every God-damned day.”
Alternatively, you might think: “What a prick.”
If you went for Option B, congratulations – you are a normal human being. We encounter plenty of people over the course of each week and they all have various foibles and insecurities which we might take into account when communicating with them. However, practically speaking, life’s too short.
Instead, you just react to this guy being a prick and you probably try and take him down a peg or two. You try to highlight all the ways in which he’s not as amazing as he thinks he is. In short, you make him feel unappreciated.
Kevin Pietersen absolutely hates feeling unappreciated. It is the worst feeling in the world for him. He would do literally anything to make those around him see and acknowledge his value. Unfortunately, he really doesn’t know how to accomplish this.
Insecure and unappreciated, KP therefore takes the most straightforward course of action available to him – he tries to tell everyone how amazing he is.