Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Desperate Search for Importance

Eventually, every one of us gives in to it. 
The search to be recognized.  The desperate demand to be found important.  To have others see that the actions we take have a magnified effect.

We push out Facebook posts.  That amount to nothing.

We Tweet.  About miniscule aspects of our daily existence.

We Instagram and blog.  In an effort to show that we are doing or thinking something that separates us from everyone else.

We use the power of these magnifiers to prove our worth.

It ends up coming off as a self-important, ego driven mania to be famous.  Because, unfortunately, famous is seen as successful.  Successful is seen as happy.  Happy is seen as better.  And it is better to be famous than not. 

One of my great guilty pleasures is watching Judge Judy.  It astounds me to see the people who will agree to be on her program, however.  Many come with an obvious desire to be on TV.  It's as though this is their "big scene" in life.  Even worse are the Jerry Springer-type shows where people with no apparent idea of the ridicule to which they are being subjected, fight to be "seen" as famous.  As important.  As meaningful. 

This even comes through in regular, everyday meetings.  It becomes clear, in just a few minutes, that some people are proud of their ignorance.  They don't care what they don't know.  They simply desire to be taken seriously so badly that their life is spent in . . . being seen . . . being heard . . . being something important.

Teenagers post images of themselves in activities they will one day wish was not retrievable on line.  People my age often post about themselves truths that they later regret (there is a reason a local divorce attorney's radio ad says the first thing he does in a divorce case is search social media).

Very few of these people do what it takes to become really . . . important. 

In his book, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, Viktor Frankel writes:
“Man is originally characterized by his "search for meaning" rather than his "search for himself." The more he forgets himself—giving himself to a cause or another person—the more human he is. And the more he is immersed and absorbed in something or someone other than himself the more he really becomes himself.”  
What is the whole purpose of the way we communicate now?
Is our aim of being noticed, recognized and seen by others as what?


So much effort is put into getting blog hits, getting Facebook notices, getting recognized in some way that we forget to live our lives in a way that, as a natural outcome, demonstrates our importance.  How many people say, write or record themselves saying something provocative, stupid, obscene or dangerous, just to get attention? 

Social media is full of it.  Literally and figuratively.
It seems the goal of millions of us around the world is to "go viral."  Be thought of as so . . . interesting . . . stupid . . . funny . . . significant for just a moment that the whole world takes notice and can't wait to share that image with everyone.  To be famous and to have meaning in our lives becomes an end unto itself.  And we will do anything to achieve it.

And yet, no one who is pursuing that time of significance stops to realize they are quickly . . .laughed at . . . enjoyed . . . used . . . forgotten and the world will move on to the next jester who keeps it's attention for another moment.

In this ever growing drive to become important, we end up killing real relationships - because we present to "friends," readers, watchers, listeners a false image of who we really are.  We want those who see us on Facebook to believe our life is fabulous.  Our office overlooks the ocean.  Our meals are always healthy, appealing and eaten by all of our family members gathered around the table.  Every.  Single.  Evening.  With stimulating conversation that highlights our genius.

In reality, we heated Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for one child, made spaghetti for the other and collapsed in the living room, in front of the tv, with our own tray of leftovers from  . . . who remembers?

If we can be honest with each other, none of this social media persona is real.  And it harms those around us.  Jesus, in Matthew 23 says this about those supposed leaders who desperately wanted to be viewed in a certain way:

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. 
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:1-7, 11-12, 25-28 - NIV)

When we put such effort into getting people to see us living our lives, we actually fail to live our lives at all and are merely acting.  Trying to get someone to notice us.  It reminds me very much of little children who cry "mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy" over and over in order to get the desired attention.

But Frankel sees the innocence of children as the time when we can best see ourselves in action.  As a time when we can see our worth, our importance.  Our meaning.
“Just consider a child who, absorbed in play, forgets himself—this is the moment to take a snapshot; when you wait until he notices that you are taking a picture, his face congeals and freezes, showing his unnatural self-consciousness rather than his natural graciousness. Why do most people have that stereotyped expression on their faces whenever they are photographed? This expression stems from their concern with the impression they are going to leave on the onlooker. It is "cheese" that makes them so ugly. Forgetting themselves, the photographer, and the future onlooker would make them beautiful.”   Viktor E. Frankel, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning
Our beauty is found is finding our mission in life, of serving a purpose.  Our ugliness is evident in our push to be recognized.  When we give up the search for being important and, instead, work to find a way to serve others and forget ourselves, that is when we can become needed.  Valued. 

Truly important.

*Now, please forward this along so that I can increase the hits to my blog! :)

*(See, told you that looks ugly!)


  1. Just read your blog and thinking about graduation this weekend, it is funny thinking of all the pictures that were taken and all the "pretty *cheese* smiles" that were taking place. I much prefer the pictures that are taken when no one is looking or no one notices that the camera is on them. That is when the true, "I am blessed to be here, graduating and experiencing what God has planned for me" expressions are present. The fakeness of the staged poses are not real, they are just a way of covering the true emotions of what one is experiencing. Yes they look nice on the wall, but I much prefer the realness of situations, the raw emotion. God Bless! <>< Sarah *cousin*

  2. Glad to see you writing again. Or at least posting again. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  3. Glad to see you writing again. Or at least posting again. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.