Why We Care What Other People Think About Us ?
While Richard Feynman had never really answered the question that his bestselling book had promised his readers, this post is likely to stick to the obvious question it asks.
Before we delve deeper and seek the answer to the question this post puts forward, I would like to set a few ground rules: firstly, expressions like “that’s not me”, “I have never done that”, etc, would be frowned upon by the author who can’t actually read your mind, so for good humour’s sake, I urge you to keep an open mind; and secondly, please understand that this is not rocket science, it’s simple common sense and data doesn’t always exist of such topics, so it’s mostly my word against a sceptic’s, so I welcome any rhetorics on my views.
The human mind, in its attempt to make sense of whatever it observes, seeks validation to form its own opinions. These externalities however snowball when the subject at hand is a personal trait or creation. We, humans, are more susceptible to be affected by opinions on our creations, than on our self. To be very honest, it all boils down to a simple fact; the value behind the creation or trait. This value is mostly fueled by the need for appreciation and approval, in the clearest sense, validation.
If you would go back to reading my second paragraph, you would clearly realize what I am saying. A very candid expression of insecurities, the second paragraph is a gentle reminder of the very basis of my argument; we are affected by what other people think about us or our extensions, our creation, or in this case an essay. It is but human to be influenced by what others opine about us. At the same time, it is natural for your opinions to be a simple aggregate influences, of other people’s opinions, which have also formed in the exact same way and the cycle continues. And that’s what we will be discussing about next.
Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else. ~David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
In the aformentioned quote, David Foster Wallace, essentially explains the fallacy of uniqueness; how our opinions and everything else related to us is not free of influences; how deep down, we are all similar. Our opinions are nothing more or less than the sum total of our influences, that is other people’s beliefs. Come to think of it, a major part of your value system, morality, beliefs, opinions are nothing but facsimiles of someone else’s, which are also not exclusive of the cycle we discussed earlier.
Concluding, I would like to leave the readers with a thought. Next time you take any decisions, you form any opinions, or even when you create anything, think about the value behind your creation. Think of the reason for the effort you had put forth. The moment you find the answer to this, you’ll be introspecting in a new light. You’ll understand the importance of the question this essay puts forth.