There has been a rise in this “populist” idea that we should live not caring about what others think of us, especially amongst Millennials born in the late 90s through early 2000s. Some of these people also share common views such as, ‘I live my own life and I can do whatever I like.’ These ideas are often derived from contemporary media, YouTube personalities or even popular artistes and their influences.
Athough widely used positively as a catchphrase to encourage the embracing of individuality, I reckon it to be like a double-edged sword.
Most understand the positive aspect, which is to mainly embrace oneself disgregarding how others judge them. Many however fail to critically consider the significance of these words which is the impetus of what I will write about today.
The other side of the coin
Many youths today rely on media and the internet for sources of inspiration and encouragement. After going through a sequence of life events without much guidance or direction, they absorb inputs from these seemingly “reliable” sources which reinforces what they had realised which might not be not very accurate or out of context.
But because those idealistic ideals are in sync with what they had realised, perceptions are further solidified which in turn leads to people developing rigid mindsets.
Embracing individuality is helpful in boosting one’s self confidence but not caring about how others thinks is rather tricky and subjective based on differing situations.
Not caring about how others think mainly is about not allowing hateful or unhelpful remarks or behaviour get to us. Many people have however resorted to the ideology of this phrase to justify their actions without giving deeper thought into it.
This topic also reasonates with the argument of freedom of speech.
People think they are entitled to what they can say or do as they are the masters of their own lives. Because of this idealistic sentiment, youths feel empowered to do or say whatever they want just like in the case of Amos Yee. Yes, it is true that we can do or say as we please but what some fail to critically realise is that we do not live in a world of our own.
Everything that we do or say in life has consequences which renders us liable to the parties involved. We have the freedom to not do something that we dislike but as adults, we must be ready to face the consequences especially when those choices turn bad, rather than escaping or blaming others (eg: such as the lack of the freedom of speech)
Is it therefore wise to assert the freedom of speech after hurling insults, hurtful remarks or inaccurate judgement at another individual? You do have the right to say or think what you want. However, the person at the receiving end would also then have the right to bestow upon you the brute of the whip, which is to say you will be subjected to backlash.
You cannot justify your careless deeds in the name of freedom of speech or choice and then whine and fault others for doing the same to you because they are also justified to respond in the same manner.
We live in a civilised world being governed by the rules and regulations of the respective societies we belong to. No one is able to shrink responsibility of their misdeeds unless that person is a dictator with absolute control. Even tribal men in rural villages adhere to their own laws and systems.
Deeds translate into reputation
Every individual is a member of their own household, neighbourhood, school, workplace and country, so on and so forth. We must act in manners in accordance to the respective situations that we are in if we want to survive and cohabitate in it, whether we like it or not.
In choosing to oppose the establishment, one cannot do a flip-flop and complain about it later after they feel that they are being ‘persecuted’ by the aftermath of their own choices. The only right thing to do is to suck it up, swallow your pride, learn from your mistakes and never let it happen again, not whine and play victim or the blaming game.
Whatever you say or do makes up your reputation in the social circle that you belong to. Irregardless of it being accurate or not, people judge and treat you accordingly to the perceived reputation that you inadvertently created based on your deeds.
Not everyone in the world is kind enough to give you the benefit of doubt.
Rumours when heard repeatedly by numerous sources turn into perceived truth.
Hardly anyone will be kind enough to dig into your soul to find the truth about you.
It is an uphill task to repair a tarnished reputation just like mending a broken mirror.
No matter how well you repair the mirror, it will never be the same again and the remnants of its imperfection will always be naked to the eye even if its a slight blemish.
Which is then the wiser thing to do? Watching your deeds, being mindful of its consequences or acting as you please without giving hoots about what others think?
The former does not focus on how others view or treat you but on the consequences of those actions.
It is fine if people just think of you in a certain manner but it mostly doesn’t end there. Rumours spread like wildfire and people treat you according to the unpleasant perceived image which results in you having to more or less tolerate those behaviour.
Why subject yourself to the consequences of these baseless rumours?
Does doing this make you someone who is conscious about how others judge or see you as a person? I don’t think so, unless you are willing to be a martyr for the cause of not caring about how others think and the consequences that comes with it. Also, it is highly dependable on the situation.
Watching your deeds is something that you can control.
But if someone is finding fault with you based on uncontrollable factors such as race or appearance, the better choice to make will be to ignore them like how the original intent of not caring about how others think of you is being promoted.
The topic on caring about what others think about you is therefore extremely subjective and differs depending on situations. The problem is that most people generalise it throughout and think they are pursuing noble ideals from erroneous angles.
Nelson Mandela believed strongly in his ideals and persevered throughout, bearing the consequences of being jailed for decades based on his deeds.
Thinking that he is politically correct, Dr Chee Soon Juan bore the brunt of his words and actions resulting in losing his private propety, getting fired from his job lecturing at a university, having a tarnished reputation and being stricken with debts in exchange with not caring about what others think and saying whatever he wants.
If you think it is the wiser thing to do, have the guts to accept and live with the consequences of your choices and do whatever you like. Rather than thinking in just shades of black and white, do not neglect the grey areas and try to be introspective on all matters/decisions. It is all about the worthiness of things and whether you can live with the consequences of your deeds rather than just caring or not about how others think about you.
There is no one size fits all approach in life due to the complexities in human interaction.
Inspired by my friend D