lifeMy internal jury is still out on whether the human race is intrinsically selfish or intrinsically altruistic.
Are we generally pleased when we see another person do well for themselves, or do we actually feign goodwill, whilst secretly bemoaning that so-and-so's good luck, or talent, or both and wishing that it was us instead?
I find this question especially puzzling when I consider it in the context of a group - people who come together with a common interest or cause. I, perhaps naively, expect more from a like-minded group of people by the way of being pleased when something goes right for one of it's members - but that's not always the case.
A member of a forum run by a photographic agency that I contribute to, recently posted a message saying that a single shot of his had earned $8000 for use by a publishing company. He wasn't boasting, and was using the information (he showed us the photograph and told us exactly where it was being used and by whom - insomuch as he had been told himself) to encourage others to have high hopes of a big sale themselves.
The majority of replies to his post (so far) have been positive and encouraging. But not all. Some of the meaner spirited replies (oh, I know - they were only joking!) are:
"I thought that I had much better pic somewhere."
"Jeez, I probably wouldn't even have bothered to put that one in."
"It just goes to show harsh editing and removing the more ordinary photos does not always work."
"I am actually amazed that a client will pay &25,000 for such a picture when they could have hired a professional photographer to go out and shoot a similar picture for a fraction of the cost." (my personal favourite - partly because he got the amount wrong, partly because he didn't use the correct symbol for dollars and partly because the photographer IS professional)
"Well done Colin - really great sale. may you have many more. Straighten the walls and you might get $20000 next time!!" (I posted that one myself)
There was also the poster who told us how much he made from a single shot (about $6000) but refused to show it to us, as it was "easily repeatable" by others. Oh, heaven forfend that we might all go and photograph the same subject and make some money, too! I had better not tell everyone that I sold a shot of the Eiffel Tower recently, oh, and Times Square, oh and Big Ben oh and Stonehenge.....or they might go there too!
I doubt that you'd get the same sort of reaction from a group of painters or potters or scultors. I think the mean-spirited photographers out there let their jealousy take over because they haven't realised that there is art and talent to photography, as much as there is to painting and sculture. So, you get the sense of "oh, why didn't they use MY shot of Windsor Castle", rather than - what a good shot of Windsor Castle.
As for my puzzling question at the top - I think the short answer is: it's a bit a both, and altrusim is certainly helped by self-awarness and some internal sense of personal security.