On significance

One of my old neighbors once told me that deep down all people want to be loved and truly liked. If they can’t get that they want to be respected. If that’s out of reach they want to be disliked or even hated. People are rather despised than ignored. Why is this? What’s so bad about ignoring people, why do we hate being ignored so much?

Our actions define us, we decide our essence. When someone refuses to acknowledge our actions and presence they take away our freedom to define ourselves. They take away the significance of our lives by ignoring our existence. This is a pretty harsh thing to do.

Maybe that’s what we deep down really crave; to be significant. We want our existence to have mattered in some way. Being loved, liked, and respected are a sign our contributions are appreciated. Being disliked or hated at least means we made a difference which is the essence of significance. If our lives didn’t make any difference they were insignificant. And insignificance is a pretty uncomfortable feeling since we do have to put up with all the ups and downs just by being alive. That we are here without any predefined reason is worse enough, if we can’t exercise our freedom to make our own lives meaningful we end up stuck with just the bad without the good.

This may explain why people can be so mean to others. It’s easier to destroy something great than create it. Destruction is a more efficient way to achieve significance. The same goes with being liked or disliked. It’s easier to get people to hate you than really like you. People who feel insignificant can lash out by being mean in order to get at least acknowledged. When you punch someone or block their path it’s hard for them to ignore you. Ignoring people who are mean might not be the best way to deal with them since it will only make it worse. The same goes for people with destructive tendencies ‘at least I made a difference’ could be a prime motivator.

However, since getting people to hate you and destroying things are easier than the opposites or it they are worth less. Being intentional mean or destroying something, be it an object or someone’s ambition might give you a quick fix of feeling significant but over the long run it will only isolate you more and more of the world. If you go too far the world will physically prevent you from ruining the lives of others. The negative is the easy cheap fix, go for quality instead.

Do something worthwhile by creating something others enjoy, be nice to you fellow people. Built them up instead of tearing them down and you end up living a very significant life, one that makes people happy that you were alive and sad you are no longer here. Life is hard enough without people making it worse for each other, instead we can all benefit by trying to make it a little better.

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