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:

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.

32 thoughts on “Do You Care What People Think?

  1. Sadly, this factors into my habits a lot, especially as an author. It doesn’t change what and how I write, but the reactions of others influence my mood. No reviews and sales makes me feel worthless. I think this goes for anything in the arts though. You put stuff out there for reactions and attention. Otherwise, you’d just keep it to yourself.

    I think most people who do the ‘I don’t care what others think’ are lying. At least if they’re declaring it on social media. It always gets likes and praise, which is why many do it. Almost like it’s become a trend.

  2. I think social media is creating a world of self-doubters and people pleasers. When I was younger I cared more about what others thought about me. I’ve learned that not everyone is going to like me, or what I do, say or write, but that’s okay. Once I learned that the majority of people don’t think about me as much as I thought they did was a game changer. They’ve got their own stuff to think about. Cute penguin!

    • Such good advice, Jill! I remember my mother telling me not to care what others thought in order to survive elementary school. But you’re right. Not everyone is going to agree with you or like you. You can’t please everyone.

  3. Great post, Linda. I love your honesty about life. I agree with Jill about social media. It’s brought self-doubt and fear to the forefront like never before! I feel it, the desire for recognition and approval. And I feel the failure. Sometimes, I think I’m my own worst enemy. Just being honest here, too.

  4. I do care what people think, but less and less so. However, when it comes to Amazon reviews, now that’s a different story

    Your honesty and transparency are refreshing here, Linda Marie! And I do love the penguin, so cute and chunky! ((( )))

  5. Oh, I definitely care what people think! It doesn’t bother me in the slightest when I care what people I care about think of me, but it annoys me when I find myself performing to please random strangers I’ll never meet again. What a waste of energy! And I censor my worst impulses all the time on the blog so people won’t dis-‘like’ me! I know what you mean about book reviews too, and hold my hand up as guilty of the scathing 1-star, as you well know. However, in my defence (and so you might still ‘like’ me!) I never give a scathing review to a debut author unless they express really vile views, and rarely to an author whose books aren’t on the bestsellers lists, where my review won’t make a jot of difference to the author’s rating or sales. I usually save my best 1-stars for dead authors, in fact, since I sincerely hope they don’t read reviews any more… 😉

    • I get what you mean. Your one-star reviews are entertaining. But I know those reviewers were earned. I’ve seen some reviewers admit to writing one-star review while drunk. I exposed another one-star reviewer as a fraud on Goodreads for “reviewing” a book that was still in the manuscript stage! 🙄 I also complained to Goodreads about the review.

  6. I suppose it’s all about balance. On the one hand, I don’t want to be a “people pleaser” in the sense of caring so much about pleasing everyone that I’m inauthentic. On the other hand, I live in this society. I want to be part of it.

    During COVID, we’ve become sloppy about how we look. We go to the supermarket in our sweats. They’re more comfortable that way. But dressing up a little is a sign of respect for the people around you. Of course, I care what people think of me. I try not to say something stupid or cruel. Everyone does to some extent, I think. I want to look my best, but not to the extent that I wear a lot of makeup or try to look like something I’m not. Body image seems to be a problem with Instagram, especially for teenage girls.

  7. It depends on the specific situation and the person or persons involved. I care what SOME people think SOME of the time about SOME things. Other than that, I suit myself.

    And I don’t spend much time worrying about what other people think of me.

    No one knows me as well as I know myself so my opinion of me is the one that matters most. And that applies to both criticisms and compliments. If I get an “unwarranted” compliment or criticism, I shrug it off because life is easier when we are not trying to change someone else’s mind.

    There was a great quote on JoyRoses blog yesterday:

    If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself, just say: “He obviously does not know me very well since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned.” :mrgreen:

  8. I try not to care what other people think as long as my conscience is clear about my intentions/actions/motivations, but yes it’s difficult to be an island. I hope only for positivity washing up on my shore!

  9. A great post, Linda! Thank you! You’ve got me thinking too. I definitely agree with what others have said about social media. It ups the vulnerability factor for creatives (and noncreatives). That’s for sure. It ups the vulnerability factor for me. So, I just want to say, bravo everyone! Bravo for writing and posting and tweeting and going bravely into the world and being yourselves. We need your honesty and imagination and stories. I’m so thankful to read all that you write!

    • Thanks, Sandra! 😃❤️
      Social media is so hard to navigate. On the one hand you want to publicize your books. On the other, you’re out there at the mercy of anyone who comments regardless of mood. Sigh!!

  10. That’s one cute penguin! Thank you for your honesty in this post, Linda, and for posing the question publicly. I definitely care what people think … too much. I’m very self-conscious, to the point of sometimes not doing a thing (like writing) because of my worry over what “people will think.” I have that tape always running through my head (you know the one), and it rarely gives me a moment’s rest. When I had the day-job, no matter how contrary I felt, I always wanted to leave people smiling, leave them with a good impression of me. I’d worry about my “performance” at meetings. One of the great things about working from home was having opportunities to just collapse from the sheer weight of trying to make everyone happy. I wish I could say that at 64 and retired, I care less about what people think. Well, that’s true to a point, but I’ve always cared too much. Even though I do care less, I still care too much, but I’m working on it 😉

    • So understandable, Marie! I know I struggle with this, and know that I will continue to struggle with it.
      I think we all struggle with “performing” and whether or not we’re up to snuff. I know I do!!

  11. ‘We live in a culture of likes/dislikes.’ That is so emphatically true. In general people feel they have to live up to certain expectations of others around us, and opinions matter – and if you don’t agree with the majority, then maybe you might be made to feel on the sidelines. I hope the lady at the grocery store was sincerely in a hurry for a good reason. But honestly, whether or not you are in a hurry doesn’t automatically mean you should go first.

    For most part, I don’t care what other people think about how I live my life. When it comes to my writing, I also really don’t care if everyone likes it. I do welcome feedback so I can improve on it.

    Very cute penguin. Well done and thank you for sharing the pattern.

    • Being open to feedback but refusing to be a prisoner of the perspectives of others is a great perspective, Mabel!
      As for the lady, she was ahead of me because she got to the line first. There was no obligation on her part to let me go ahead of her. But I think the pressure to be liked or not seen as rude caused her to turn and mention what she did.
      You’re welcome on the pattern! The creator is so talented!

  12. I so relate to your line of thought. Social media, especially, is not social anymore but has sucked us into culture of tallying likes and subsequently try hard to please. Very thought provoking post!

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