Do You Care What People Think?

See this penguin? (Yes, it is a penguin despite the coloring.)

I thought about using this penguin in a post with another topic. But the fact that I thought about using it prompted this post, because it shows I care what people think of me—whether you think I’m clever or creative. Though I don’t like that aspect of myself, I can’t deny the truth of it. Oh I know you’re way more mature than me and don’t care what other people think, so just bear with me even if you can’t relate to this post.

Penguin amigurumi pattern by LittleMagicHouse: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleMagicHouse?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=859475851

We live in a culture of likes/dislikes. I don’t have to tell you that. Social media is all about likes. YouTube algorithms and ad revenues are based on how many likes a video, and the channel overall, gets. You can’t even call your cable company about a service aberration (and I have done this multiple times) without being asked to fill out a survey about their service. Memo to cable providers: If I call about a service outage, that is not a good time to ask me to fill out a survey.

If you’ve written a book, you know all about the need for a certain number of good reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other outlets (like Kirkus). A bad review can be devastating, especially if the reviewer takes the time to tell you how terrible your book is and shames you for writing it.

Have you purchased a meal or anything else lately? More than likely you were asked to fill out a survey or to like and review the company on social media.

Caring what others might think is the main reason why we Botox, dye our hair, dress like people many years younger than us or cooler than us, say cutting things about the manuscripts of others in writing workshops, go through several photos before posting on social media, and sometimes outright lie. It’s what caused a woman ahead of me in line today at the grocery store to turn and say that she was sorry she couldn’t let me go ahead of her (her grocery order being much larger than mine) but she was in a hurry and couldn’t do so. It causes us to avoid saying no, even when we know we need to do so, out of fear of displeasing someone. This is not to say that we should avoid pleasing others. That’s part of loving others. It becomes problematic when we compromise who we are out of fear of what someone might think.

I’ve heard people say, “I don’t care what other people think.” And I want to believe them, since they state the fact so forcefully. But since they aren’t hermits living in a cave by themselves, and since they shower, my logical mind tells me they might have at least some concern for the opinions of others. This is not to say we shouldn’t put our best foot forward or that we should be uncivilized. But sometimes, at the back of my mind at least, I worry, What is so and so going to think?

So, I guess a better question for me to ask is, how much do you focus on what others might think? You don’t have to tell me. This post isn’t to shame anyone. I wrote it to ask the question of myself, because I’m tired of doing things out of fear of what someone else might think or say—an outcome that may or may not come to pass.

People pleaser image from AvenuesCounseling website. Other photo by L. Marie.