One common behavioral pattern I have noticed about human beings is that everyone possesses a natural yearning for greatness and power, what author Dale Carnegy summarily calls a feeling of self importance. What irks, however, is our unreasonable want for validation and elussive affirmation from peers and friends. We live for the applause, constantly chasing other people’s approval. So, it begs the question, do we really exist if we have not been liked or favourited? This is a hot debate and will help people grappling with identity crisis answer one fundamental life question, who am I?
OneStepBeyond recently did an unpublished survey with ten people, five ladies five men. All confessed that anytime they post a picture or update an experience on facebook, they constantly log in to monitor how the likes and comments are streaming up. Some send friend requests to millions of foreigners to increase the possibility of getting many likes to help them in image management. Others tag along celebrities. This indicates the height at which our self-worth and self-esteem has been colonised by the digital system. And it goes without saying that we don’t know who we are yet.
The digital age has brought with itself one big problem, folks will not believe in themselves until a community of social media friends have affirmed, either through ‘liking,’ ‘favoriting,’ or ‘linking to,’ that their pursuits are worthy and their efforts are admirable. People are desperate for attention and are bussy building their self-esteem with bricks made of external recognition. We are literally out brandishing ourselves so brilliantly to make people pat us on the shoulders and cheer us up. That’s why I hate to post my pictures on facebook, it is designed to suck maximum self-centred content out of me [ I’m not discouraging positive postings].
What is true is that the number of likes and the cool comments we get are not accurate description of who we are. We end up with a fazzled personality and a self-esteem dangling out of control over a precipice. We really don’t need to feel good because someone like us, we need to feel good because we like ourselves. If practically everybody we meet likes us, it means that we are possibly tying ourselves up in knots trying to offer up an inauthentic picture of ourselves in order to get along with others.
Author Evan Selinger had me sold with his existential description of the damnation the desire for other people’s approval can provide” For without a healthy dose of self-determination and intrinsic motivation, self-development gets stymied and tasks rich with possibilities lose their potential for meaning”
Nevertheles, philosophers agree that yes we should depend on others for honest feedback that prevents personal growth from getting derailed by ignorance and rationalization. And I suggest the best way to get validated is not us desperately seeking the validation. We should create value and chase success which will automatically draw people to us.
Take an example, in my life and at OneStepBeyond, I’ve conditioned myself not to anticipate any validation and praise from friends or readers. While it is really great to derive satisfaction from peers acknowledging that I produce quality work, it will only block me from achieving what I was meant for. I understand that praise from fans isn’t necessary to motivate the development of a virtuous character: to cultivate expertise, to commit to work requiring meticulous detail, and to embrace a heightened sense of responsibility. I’ve also stopped encouraging and cajoling people to read my blog. Because, what people want to read is value, if my blog is as valuable and authoritative, then I will automatically get folks around reading and subscribing. It’s not for me to attract people to my blog, but it is for the value I create therein to make people develop a pulsating sense of desire to associate with me and to read OneStepBeyond.
These principles not only apply to my life and blog, they are universal. If you try them out, you get the same results. So, why really would we want people to like us, to be on our side, to cheer us, to believe us. We have to do positive things that confer on us the likes.
In summary, we should not live our lives chasing for other people’s approvals. It’s a shallow way to live as it drains our time and energy by pleasing others and recurring feelings of insecurity and emptiness. The invisible people blend in the background of our lives and only become noticeable when things go south.
Any rebuttal is welcome.