Updated Jul 24, 2019
A tall poppy is a person who is perceived as doing better in some way, compared to the person with the perception. It can be one-to-one comparison, or it can be a group of people targeting one person.
Tall poppy syndrome is contextual.
I have spent time in an environment where someone who just graduated with a bachelors degree is the shortest poppy in the room. And have also spent time in environments where, simply being a first-year uni student would constitute being perceived as the tall poppy.
I have spent time in a low-wage, part-time job at a university, as the lowest employee in the department (e.g. washing test tubes in a lab, etc). And have spent time in other environments with chronic non-workers who would perceive me as a tall poppy for that (or any) job. Although they didn’t quite envy the job, but rather, envied the paycheque that they imagined.
Some other mind-blowingly petty tall poppy experiences:
- They suspect you of earning more than minimum wage, forty hours per week. Even if they know this is due to working harder.
- You don’t smoke cigarettes (or anything else).
- You don’t have any unplanned children.
- You live someplace other than the town where you were born.
- You get passing grades in an educational course.
- You have never received money to have sex with strangers.
- Somebody projects a fantasy that you possess resources that you actually don’t.
- Somebody projects a fantasy that you possess situational advantages that you actually don’t.
Some people answer questions regarding tall poppy syndrome with a defensive excuse that, it is only directed towards people who act haughty, and flaunt high levels of success or resources. But that is not true at all.
Merely giving simple, polite answers to someone’s personal interrogation about the above-listed matters is enough for them to target you. Merely existing while they project the above-described fantasies is enough for them to target you.