As time progresses, technology makes it very apparent how the perceptions of others affect both the positive and negative views of ourselves and the outside world. Some people will only buy or wear things that are expensive, worn by celebrities and coveted by all. Some people will sell their soul, or close to it, just so that they are liked by others. I don’t know how many times I have seen Facebook posts about exotic vacations, expensive gifts, cars or houses, amazing significant others, etc. There are also those posts that instruct people to like the post if a, b and c. Many of these posts are meant to bring the one adding the post up and the reader down but because it’s a social norm to hide behind the keyboard, more and more comparison posts are added every day and more and more people are stretching their necks to be like others.
This led me to think about the show Black Mirror and the episode titled Nosedive. ~~~Spoiler Alert~~~
In this episode, your very existence and what you were able to achieve depended upon your social media grade. It took the humanity out of life and everyone became products being sold and rated. You had to have a rating above a certain level in order to live in an affluent part of town, to rent reliable vehicles, to get proper service at restaurants, etc. The main character was miserable but kept up the pretenses just so that her rating did not drop. She faced the world and manipulated her actions based on how the highly rated individuals behaved. The social interactions were not genuine or fluid. They were forced interactions the individuals felt necessary in order to gain a positive social rating from that individual. It got to the point where she was no longer herself and basically went crazy trying to prove her worthiness. In the end, she realized that there was no empathy, no compassion and people did not treat others very well and when you’re having a bad day, you are not excused for not perfectly displaying your mask. She learned a valuable lesson that the opinion of others did not matter and nothing is worth your sanity, especially when you lose sight of who you are.
In the show, the most genuine people had very low ratings and the most superficial people were rated higher and lived “better” lives. What I noticed as well is that the low rated people were the most human and forgiving of imperfections. The same is true in the real world. Not to make a blanket statement but most people who understand suffering are also the most human, most compassionate and empathic. It is also true that there is a fair number of people who unnecessarily suffer because they choose to rely on the opinions of others in order to validate their life.
I have mostly never been the type to rely on others to validate my life. There have been times where I was embarrassed to leave the house because I was afraid that my clothes were not acceptable or my hair looked a mess. But for most my life, I chose my comfort over the acceptance of others. I am protective of my intellectual property but once it’s out there, I leave it to fate. I realized early on in my life that I am not for everyone. I could never figure out why some people disliked me on first sight but that has helped me to understand that the only opinion that mattered was my own. I always try to be myself, unapologetically. I actively try to ignore the thoughts and comments of those who know nothing about me – mostly because of their short sight in not wanting to get to know me—or those who don’t care for me. In doing that, life has been good. I feel great about the life I have and the things that I have in my life. I don’t feel like I have to keep up with the Joneses or anyone other than myself. I don’t like or dislike something or someone because that is socially accepted. I form my own opinion. I have what I have and don’t feel like I have to yearn for what I can’t have.
I am proud that I would probably not measure up to the standards of others and I wouldn’t want to.
Can you say the same?