In a writing how to book, I recalled that there were universal ways of making a character unlikable. One of the easiest is to make that character a usurper.

I found this to be really strange in the US where people generally, believe that we are all equal as this would make a usurper unthinkable.

Alas, even in the land of the free, there are hierarchies and thus a chance for a usurper.

What is a usurper?

It’s someone who takes a role which is not assigned to him. It originally comes from the times when there was a king, and the usurper was someone who had no shot at becoming a king, but claimed that right for himself anyway. In this case, it’s pretty easy to see why this person makes us angry. He’s taking something that doesn’t belong to him, kind of universal.

Plus, we all like to respect our leaders, but if our leader isn’t legitimate then it confuses the whole notion of leadership.

The best example of a usurper today, is in talks where someone keeps interrupting the main speaker or where they ask too many questions or press their own point too forcefully. Even if the usurper is smarter than the main speaker, we came to see the speaker and someone else disrupting it is a usurper no matter what they have to offer.

I have seen talks where the speaker admits that the usurper has a lot to offer and she listens to her usurper with alacrity. Still, the audience chafes at this unasked for interruption. Why doesn’t this blow hard usurper shut up so we can get on with the main speech?

Similarly, the notion of the usurper is one of the main reasons why people hate cyclists. You can tell when they say things like, “Cyclists don’t belong on the streets.”

It matters not at all that there’s no where else for us nor does it matter that it actually is legal for us to ride on the streets. They see us as illegitimate and that’s that.


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