I told myself that the second I was no longer a poor, starving artist, I would order a subscription to the New York Times Weekender.
At 30 years of age, I can proudly say that I’m no longer poor or starving, and I guess the artist part could be argued as well.
However, once you’ve been a poor and starving artist, you figure that you can just as easily end up back there, and you have difficulty justifying expenses like haircuts.
Because I now get the Sunday edition of the Times, you’re going to see posts from me that often start with “I read this New York Times article recently…”
It’s annoying, I know, but bear with me. I had a fairly low SAT score, so I like to sound smart.
I read this New York Times article recently called “For the Love of Being Liked.”
In it, the male author explains how he proudly shared a pro-feminism photo and was completely dismayed when no one hit ‘like’ on his social media channels. His wife, who has a larger following, shared the photo, where upon it caught like wildfire. “Though I should be above such things,” the author says, “my wisp of loneliness was soon replaced with a gust of self-satisfaction. Look, I started a meme!”
The author of the article goes on to explain that we are hardwired to seek approval- a Harvard study states that 40% of responsants found that “self-disclosure” is “as pleasurable as having food or sex”- and that societal acceptance has been around “in one form or another since before the dinosaurs 350 million years ago.” Other interesting tidbits from the article include the story of a man who created an app that would automatically hit ‘like’ on every friend’s social media update, thus skyrocketing his online popularity, and the fact that we are not saddened by the thought of people not liking us- we just want to feel part of the group.
I hate to admit it, but this anecdote, sadly, resonated with me. I have been no stranger to feeling isolated, shunned and lonely when a blog post or social media share doesn’t perform well. And I used to be way worse. I recall a time when I would check my blog stats every ten minutes. Why? Because it made me feel good to see that people were “accepting” me. This created heightened anxiety. I became concerned about approval and it affected my daily life. And it made me feel like a huge wiener for actually caring about this stuff. How lame is it that I’m worrying about such trivial things?
The second I gave up caring, the better I felt. And you know what happened? My blog traffic started to go up; I was no longer trying too hard. By not worrying about acceptance, my content became better (arguably) and the thin veil of desperation and want of approval was no longer evident.
So, the next time you’re feeling all butt-hurt about a blog post or social media share not performing well, remember: a.) It’s normal to feel that way (though we’re all giant, fat wieners for caring in the first place) and b.) Stop giving a shit- you’ll feel like a normal person again.