“When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place”
Who knows if the above statement is correct, but given how little I think of pretty much anybody else, let’s say, I’ll wager it’s true.
People don’t care about you as much as you think.
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
I don’t know about you, but I fall into that latter category more times than I care to admit.
I love talking about people. I love criticizing them behind their back. Hell, sometimes I make veiled criticisms about people I know in my own blog posts.
I need to improve myself.
More specifically, I need to stop giving a fuck.
Why do I care about people so much? Why do I care about what they’re doing, and creating, and saying?
My semi-obsession with certain people in my life has led to a lot of heartache and stress.
What about caring about particular causes?
After creating some 800 blog posts and screaming into the void trying to create change in the world, I wonder how much of this even matters.
Black Lives Matter. Wildfires in California. Wildfires in the Amazon. COVID-19. Mass shootings. Income inequality.
Forgive me for wondering what the purpose behind giving a damn about all this is. They’re all more-than-noble causes to fight for, but after grinding against the status quo with viral blog posts, viral videos, and the occasional Facebook rant, I feel like I’m punching underwater.
All the effort. All the stress. All the anxiety.
And the world hasn’t changed.
I try to change people with my videos. All that happens is that one half follows me and the other half blocks me.
At a certain point you start realizing years of your life are rolling off the calendar like post-it notes.
When do you start to just, I don’t know, not feel so worthless, tired, and stressed? When does it become a good idea to just say “screw it!” and stop caring about all this stuff?
It sounds selfish, and that’s because it kind of is.
When that alternative is to wake up feeling like a zombie every day because you’re fighting for every cause under the sun, then yeah, I’m starting to see the value of a little ignorance.
I Shouldn’t Feel This Way
I can already hear what everybody is going to say to this.
“It’s easy for you to want to be ignorant, Tom, you don’t have to live in the hell many people find themselves in. You’re PRIVILEGED. You’re just some white digital nomad who’s at the top of the food chain.”
You’re right, I guess.
“To perceive is to suffer.”
Right on, Aristotle. When you actually take the time to care about causes that don’t effect you, you suffer. Empathy leads to suffering.
On the flip side of the coin, I don’t know how many people can go on empathizing all their life. Nobody has unlimited willpower. Everybody has their breaking point. How much empathizing can we do before we crack our own soul?
I love the quote from The Two Towers..
Treebeard: The Ents cannot hold back this storm. We must weather such things as we have always done.
Merry: How can that be your decision?!
Treebeard: This is not our war.
Merry: But you’re part of this world! Aren’t you?!
Merry’s anger is understandable. The Ents, in the movie, decide to not get involved with the very real evil taking place in Isengard. They decide to not lend a helping hand to a worthy cause.
To which Merry exclaims “But you’re part of this world!”
It’s a powerful line. One of my favorite parts of the movie.
Yes, we are part of this world. Yes, we need to fight for those who are disenfranchised. But we have limits to our willpower. What happens when we reach them?
Care, But Don’t Care As Much As Everybody Wants You To Care
Here’s the part where I shake hands with the SJW’s using my left paw and simultaneously give them the middle finger with my right paw.
Everybody loves to tell us what to care about.
You should care about who gets elected President. You should care about climate change. You should care about Section 8 housing getting built nearby. You should care about illegal immigration. You should care about the government printing currency like it’s the Sunday paper.
I’m done. Just shut the hell up about it, willya?
I can’t care about everything. Contrary to what everybody wants you to believe, I don’t need to care about everything, either.
Honestly, I’ve fought a hell of a fight so far. I’ve donated lots of money, helped a lot of people in the Philippines, published a lot of videos and blog posts promoting worthy ideas, and tried my best to spar with my loved ones to get them to change.
I don’t see the fruits of my labor anywhere. Even something as straightforward as donating money isn’t so simple, as so many people in the Philippines used to tell me to be careful donating to the actual local governments.
What the hell can I do, then?
Easy. I can be the master of my own “care bank.”
I can choose when and where to care about something — not somebody else.
And if someone wants to make me feel bad for not speaking out on something, I can turn around and give them the middle finger.
Chances are they’ll never think about me again, anyway.
This is the world we live in. We are so lazer-focused on all the people we hate, yet we’ll forget about them at the drop of a hat. I’ve had dozens of Facebook spats with people in my comments section and I couldn’t tell you ANY of their names. Not one.
Accept This Isn’t A Perfect World
Bill Maher had a segment recently on his show where he talked about how it’s futile to try to change our opponent’s minds on things. Then he dropped this gem:
“At the end of the day, we’re just going to have to learn how to live with each other.”
Ring the church bells. That was beautiful.
Is it a sin to not care about shit? When we take the world into consideration, and how we love to fight, and how nobody changes their minds about anything — is it really a stretch to think that not giving a fuck isn’t actually all that bad?
You might read this article and think it’s dark and somewhat nihilistic. I see it differently. I see it as liberating. I see it as rebelling against the natural order of 2021 humanity where we need to care about everything and everyone who’s ever had it bad and if we don’t, then we’re just privileged white dudes who must be ostracized from society.
No. There’s power that lies in staring someone in the face as their red eyes bulge, foam forming at the corners of their mouth, and not giving a single fuck about their outrage.
Miss me with the stress and anxiety. I’m going to get tacos. Do you want some? I’ll buy us some tequila shots and we’ll finally start to enjoy life. It’s not a sin to enjoy life every once in a while, you know.
Weirdly enough, amidst the tequila shots and tacos I might actually start listening to you about your opinions. I might start caring. And it will feel like a healthy caring, because we’re not obsessed with whatever social cause we’re discussing. We’re just two people eating tacos and slowly descending into drunkenness.
Here’s one last quote and I’ll shut the fuck up.
“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will elude, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
-Henry David Thoreau
The healthy way to care about things is to mix in a fair dash of happiness, excitement, and joy into your life every now and then. To care about things in a healthy manner, we need to also spend long periods of time not caring.
You only get one fucking life. I don’t want to spend it living like a tightly wound rubber band ball of stress and anxiety.
I’m 28 years old, and I’m just now starting to pick my battles a whole lot more selectively. I hope you can do the same.