I have come to some hard conclusions during this pandemic mess. The first is that we all need more compassion in our lives. The second is that the moment most people gain a reason, they will turn into snarling monsters. The last is that we should stop caring what others think of us. It is this last point that I want to focus on. Keep in mind that this is not my normal fare, but one that I think needs to be out there as it applies to so much of what we do (gaming included).
Okay, first we must define what we mean by “other people’s opinions of you.” In this context I mean how they view your values, hobbies, politics, ect. They always have an opinion about if this political view is right or that hobby is fun, and you SHOULD NOT CARE. They have to let you know that Donald Trump is literally Hitler or that your favorite video game is trash. This can also apply to good views of yourself. Even if someone confirms your views, YOU SHOULD NOT CARE. They can, and will, change the way you view your values and life choices based on this. If you do something that you hate because you know that “well, person X thinks it is right” are you really doing the right thing?
With the above said, why should you not care? There are several reasons but I am going to break it down to the five most important reasons I can think of:
(1.) LIFE IS TOO IMPORTANT TO LIVE ACCORDING TO OTHER PEOPLE’S WORLDVIEW
In the grand scheme of life, it is too important to know what you think is right. If you constantly live your life in regards to how others feel you will never live. At least you will never live in any meaningful way. The constant in your life will be the fear that someone, somewhere might disapprove. Do you not owe yourself more out of life than the constant approval of a mob?
Take a look at the current situation in American politics. No matter who you voted for in the US you have very strong opinions about why you voted that way. Now, go online to Facebook or a comments section (especially on YouTube) and say you voted for Trump (even if you don’t say why). Watch as the hate comes in, trying to make you repent of your deeply held belief that your vote was made in good conscience. Why does anyone want that?
Other people’s worldview is not your own. That clearly blatant statement is lost on so many people. Their worldview SHOULD be everyone’s. They hate this video game or that book and it shocks them that people disagree. Instead of just letting life get on with the knowledge that their opinion is valid, they must validate it by trying to force you to live their reality.
Closing out, when you run into this remember that your life is more important than the views of people who are hell bent on trying to make you see the world through their eyes. Live your life the way you think you should (as long as you do not hurt others). Other people’s views should have no bearing because it is your own view that should shape how you live your life. It should be your view that shapes how you enjoy your hobbies, your politics, or your family. Life, in short, is too important to live according to a mob that is trying to force you to live according to dictates.
(2.) People are going to talk bad about you, stop trying to give them no reason to.
People are going to trash talk you. They are going to disparage you. If you think that by giving in to the goading and harassment of forcing their opinions on you that you will find some measure of peace, get a clue. I may have a bridge to sell you. They will simply move on to something else that they can use against you. A great example of this is the movement among the far left in regards to “trans rights.” These arguments devolved so bad that now anyone who does not affirm their worldview is a bigot. That includes many people who have spent many years fighting for LGBT rights (people like JK Rowling).
The above is not said as a commentary on LGBT rights, it goes to show that if you give them one less thing to talk about they will simply replace it with another. Calling Rowling (and people like her) names because she is not “woke” to that worldview is just a great recent example. I can name plenty of examples on the right side of the political aisle as well (such as calling anyone who opposed Trump in 2016 a “fake conservative”). The point is that they will find something to talk about.
You will never give people “nothing to talk about.” There is always something. You can be a paragon of good and still people will find something to complain about. It could be the way you part your hair (or the fact that you are bald!). I have told people before that you can say the sky is blue and someone, somewhere, will come at you telling you it is green. They do this just to fight and to make you conform to their view. Do not feed this. Walk away.
(3.) You have innate value and dignity. Allowing others to control your view of yourself removes that.
Dignity is a word that gets thrown around a lot without a lot of thought. We take away a person’s dignity when we do not let them control us. Think about that statement for a second and you will quickly see people in your head who have gotten indigent when you refuse the premise they are putting forward. You will also see instances where you quickly change YOUR mind to make them feel better. IT DOES NOT TAKE AWAY DIGNITY TO SAY WHAT YOU THINK.
In fact, dignity and value is lost when you are bullied into saying something you do not actually believe. When you allow other people’s opinions to control you, you do this. Stop it. Do you think Donald Trump is the best President ever? Then feel that way. Do you think Dungeons and Dragons is the worst RPG ever made? Don’t let others tell you that you are wrong. I do not mean cut off people who have different opinions just that you should simply say “I understand that you feel that way but I don’t care.”
You give away any dignity you have when you choose to allow others to make you feel like you are “wrong” (or even if you are seeking people out to tell you that you are “right”). You forsake the value that your opinion holds if it is so easily impacted by others. Value your opinions more than you do acceptance by the mob. Value your opinions more than you do the values of people who, more often than not, have no knowledge of who you are. This leads to this next point…
(4.) Most people have no clue about your journey, where it began or where you wish it to end.
How many times have you been insulted or attacked by some friend of a friend of a friend? What do they know about you? Often times, nothing. They think that because they have seen your Instagram or Twitter profile they know you. If you are anything like most people there are a hundred things that go on for every one thing you post about.
You know those family photos that your friend just posted, you know the ones where they are all smiling and hugging? He just got the divorce papers or she just found out she has breast cancer. Did you know? Now apply that same lens to yourself. That person who just called you a bigot for saying “All lives matter” or that idiot who called you a “faggot” for supporting LGBT rights, he knows even less about you than you do about your friend. Why do you care if he thinks you are gay or that you are a “racist?”
You owe yourself more than to quiver in fear of a person who you will likely never meet. Speak out about what concerns you, even if others disagree. When someone says something stupid (like the above examples) just walk away. Don’t get into the fight that will come. Let them show how much of an ass they are. It is surprising how much people hate jerks that like to pick fights online. Let people think you are a bad person, you know you are not. The people that matter know it. Let them talk their shit and keep your head held high. You know you and that is all that matters.
(5.) You are only really yourself when you hold to your values.
As Victor Hugo once said “Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.” There is never anything wrong with realizing that you have a bad take on something. Change things that are wrong but keep your values in tact. Never change those principles that have led you to believe in what is right or wrong.
Too often we hear the shrill cry of “racist” or “sexist” (or insert stupid comment here) and we start to doubt our values. That is the goal of the mob crying these terms. It is not “transphobic” to think that sex is not able to be changed on a whim. It is not “anti-democratic” to support anyone for President. In short, if the attack is an ad hominem then the attack is designed to make you change your values (or at least question them).
Hold to those values in spite of these comments and opinions about you. I know plenty of people who have LGBT members of their own family (my own family to be precise) and no one in them hates LGBT people. All of us have been accused of being anti-LGBT because of religious beliefs at different times. Should we abandon our religion because uneducated people demand it? Hell no. Those values, even if others disagree, help us to better understand human nature and the nature of right or wrong. If we are wrong on a fundamental level, then it is on us. It is not on others to demand that we abandon them because they “feel” like our values are wrong!
Neither should you. While I am using a lot of hot button examples in this article I am doing so specifically because they are hot buttons. They are the kind of things that lead people to be ostracized (or feel that way) by other people’s opinion of them. At what point do you sell your values out? For whom? If the answer is for some person on the internet or in the local coffee shop, then you never had those values to start with. That is a hard truth to swallow, but keep in mind that your values define who you are. Opinions are just how you express those values.
You should feel free to be who you are. No matter if you are leftist or a right-winger, a Christian or an atheist, gay or straight. Feel confident in your opinion of yourself. Trust a handful of good people around you to let you know if you are going off the rails (I have these). Stop letting weirdos online make you feel like you are a bad person (or even that you are a “good” person). Own when you make a bad decision or a bad opinion. Trust me, you will feel a million times better.