One-Upping the One-Downer

elephant_downerThe other night a friend and I both had a random song in our heads we couldn’t quite place. A quick smartphone search later and we learned it was from the musical Legally Blonde. My friend said, “oh that’s right I saw that on Broadway!” Without missing a beat I replied, “Cool, I saw it in London.” In the moment I thought I was just stating a fact, but I quickly realized I was inadvertently being one of “those people” we all love to hate – the One-Upper.

One-Uppers freely roam the streets these days, ready to pounce on your relatively cool statement with something decidedly more awesome. Your weekend at the pool is no match for the One-Upper’s weekend by the ocean. If you’ve been to Paris, the One-Upper has been there twice. The One-Upper will take your 10K walk and raise you one half marathon. See a new movie the other night? The One-Upper saw it first and could’ve warned you it was terrible. There are also One-Uppers who sneak up on us without speaking a word. Those of you who skillfully craft Pinterest-worthy cake pops whilst juggling two Ralph Lauren-clad toddlers and a demanding job – I’m talking about you.

While one-ups can be a subtle means of competition, sometimes they simply jettison out of our mouths unsanctioned as a means to connect. Even the best of us are guilty of a good thunder stealing now and then. Innocent or not, we’ve been one-upping each other since the my-dad-can-beat-up-your-dad days. But there’s a hot new trend taking the world of one-upping by storm – one-downing.

One-Downers are bred from this era when excellence is perceived as sleeping less, working more, and being a little less happy. You’ll first recognize the One-Downer by his ho hum response to your not-at-all-interested-just-trying-to-be-nice chit chat. Did the One-Downer have a nice weekend? Doubtful. Did the One-Downer enjoy his vacation? Nah.

Rather than attempt to top you, the One-Downer prefers to claim rock bottom. If you’ve put on two pounds, the One-Downer has put on five. If your flight was delayed thirty minutes, the One-Downer suffered a cancellation and a long red eye. If you had a rough night of sleep, the One-Downer has been awake since last Thursday. The One-Downer is busier than you, broker than you and has fewer Instagram followers than you. His misery is not at all interested in your company. The One-Downer sucks all the fun out of one-upping.

We’ve all done stuff, been places, seen things, and otherwise been around a block or two – so when a friend announces a fill-in-the-blank accomplishment/happening/exploit, it can be difficult not to unintentionally steal the show. But in the battle of the One-Uppers versus the One-Downers, I‘d rather be one of “those people” that went to London (three times!) anytime.

Did anyone one-up or one-down you today?


About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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31 Responses to One-Upping the One-Downer

  1. Hope says:

    Unfortunately, I am one of those people who’s ALWAYS trying to connect, but usually not by one-upping or one-downing. I recently realized that my trying-to-connect M.O. is by sharing the exact same experience as the person I’m trying to connect with. It recently backfired with a relative when she lamented that she just didn’t have very many friends. I was totally with her on that … I also lamented my lack of friends (to be honest, I have a lot of people-I-know type of friends and lots of people who “like” and comment on my Facebook posts, which can make it look like your friend cup overfloweth, but I actually have precious few “I’ve got your back” type friends). Her sarcastic comment to me (“Well, maybe you should join a club so you can get some friends”) was a like a smack in the face. I could immediately see that we weren’t on the same page about the definition of “friend.” AND I immediately began to rethink my strategy for trying to connect with people. Lesson learned: never thwart someone else’s one-downing effort.

  2. lboogie81 says:

    I think I’m an unconscious one-upper. I don’t mean to do it maliciously; it just happens. Most people hate it so I try to curb it.

  3. pfstare says:

    I hope I’m neither but I know both. 🙂

  4. Meredith says:

    I one-upped someone on having a worse day than they did. Or does that mean I was being a one-downer. Still felt like I won at the end of the conversation (;

  5. tifferzzz says:

    So funny that you wrot about this because I recently told my husband that he does this to me all the time, for example:
    Me: “My stomach is upset tonight”
    Him: “My stomach has been upset all day”
    Me: “Really? Then why didn’t you say anything earlier???”
    I guess he is a one-downer! 😛

    • filesofik says:

      My mother does that exact same thing. Every time I complain about a cramp, here she comes with ” I didn’t have time to worry about cramps at your age, I had 2 kids on my hip and a fulltime job, cramps were a relief”. Super downer!

  6. nathanjedi says:

    *reads one-downer paragraph* Nathan, is that you?

  7. markabsher says:

    Reblogged this on Mark Absher and commented:
    Great one!

  8. Nancy says:

    Your life observations are so wise-beyond-your-years, you amaze me. Keep ’em coming!

  9. stevebetz says:

    I think when I was younger, one-upping used to be very prevalent. But now I think the anonymous internet has made society a snarkier place where it’s easier to trash something than it is to say “I liked this” — so I think there are a lot more one-downers out there now.

  10. Ha, love this. I feel like one-upping is more blatantly rude, so I try not to do that (though it definitely slips out at times when, like you said, I’m just trying to relate), but I definitely have been guilty of one-downing, which is pretty rude too — let people have their miserable moment.

  11. Omar says:

    Weary of how easily one can fall into a game of one-up-manship, I’d rather not confirm nor deny having such encounters. But yeah.

  12. One upping normally just ends with some one claiming something ridiculous or just plain false, but one downing is pretty bad. The result of one downing is that the person who is complaining is trying to offload some issue or talk about something, but the one downer takes that away from them and they now have to contend with their life not being all that bad and that they are feeling bad for no good reason.
    I am in a very fortunate position with my job and my personal life, but I still sometimes have issues I want to talk about. Some times I just want to tell that to someone and I don’t expect them to offer any advice or even understanding, but these days, when I do try and talk to some one, I normally get “that’s ok, because, blah blah blah happened to me too and it was so much worse”.
    The exchange leaves me feeling like I just lost a pissing competition.
    What ever happened to people just listening, offering condolences and helping you to move on?
    I think one downers get their response confused with the “it could be worse” style response, which normally uses far fetched ideas to improve your perspective on your situation.

  13. I am the worst one-downer although I really try not to be. I suffer from migraines, constantly, so I rarely complain about them anymore, it is just the way it is. It is awful when my husband says he has a headache and I have to bite my tongue not to say ‘yeah, tell me about it’. I really think he deserves to complain about his headache without being reminded that I have one all the time…

  14. barbedwords says:

    I know so many people in both camps, it’s hard to say which is more annoying!

  15. Holly says:

    Very lightly you made a strong point! Keep writing!!

  16. We probably all do it at some point.

  17. shobha says:

    We were discussing recent vacations over Easter Break and one of my acquaintances said she hadn’t been on vacation in years. I said, really, a little bit shocked because the family is loaded. She said, yes, not a proper vacation – we always just go to one of our homes. Does that count as one-upping or one-downing? Can’t decide.

  18. blowingoffsteamandmore says:

    I have noticed this a lot with parents and birth stories. There are two camps, those with the happy birth stories (you know, they pulled the baby out themselves, no drugs, at home) and those with the horror stories (everyone else). Unfortunately, with my horror story I am usually the one-downer. I didn’t do it on purpose, I swear! Blame my kid. 😉

  19. filesofik says:

    What about the half arounder huh? The ‘Eh’ guy? The monotone voiced bastard that isn’t quite a downer but never tries to bring home a win, and if by some chance he wins, he just says “Eh”. If the one-uppers been to Paris, and the one downer never leaves his home town, then the half arounder has been a few places, and could go see others if he wanted but, eh!

    I know this guy!

  20. filesofik says:

    Reblogged this on File'sofik Matters and commented:
    Hilarious of course because you either are this person, or you know this person. In my case, both

  21. cestlavie22 says:

    This reminds me of the SNL skit “Debbie Downer”- if you havent seen it check out a clip here: (sorry for the quality). I feel like I am one of the “one downers” more often than not. I tend to have too much of a negative outlook on things. But this was a needed laugh and thanks for reminding me of the hilarious SNL skits!

  22. signofskinny says:

    I had a friend who was most definitely a one-downer, while somehow at the same time being a one-upper. Needless to say we are no longer friends. There was only so much I could handle of how much suckier and better her life was than mine, all at the same time.

  23. Jenna K. VanderStelt says:

    Well said, well said.

  24. zactallberg says:

    I have to say, I constantly find myself being the one-upper on accident! My friends will mention something and it will spark something in my head — went fishing? I once beat a barracuda to death on a boat in Mexico.

  25. thadhogan says:

    I’m guilty of being a one-upper. I once wrote about 2 white elephants in the room!

  26. I am so guilty of this and trying to be more aware of it too!

  27. Karen Rice says:

    Not only do I love this post but I love the name of this blog. ❤ Liked & followed. I have known many one-uppers and one-downers and have been guilty of being one or the other at various times in my life. Sigh. Did I one up or one down you there? 😉

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