Be honest, how present are you in the company of another fellow human?
Are you simply waiting for a moment to check your phone, to check your social media feed, maybe to check on the post you left earlier, looking for the likes or comments? Are you looking at every opportunity as a moment to capture, film, photograph, or write about, in an attempt to look more meaningful online? Are you looking for gratification and significance on social media?
In today’s world, we’re super lucky that we can connect with people from the other side of the globe, we’re lucky that every answer to any question is out there somewhere on the World Wide Web, but we’re more disconnected from one another now than we ever have been. And I wonder how this will continue to affect our relationships and mental health.
I understand that lines get blurred with the need to advertise our services, our business, and maybe even ourselves, but when do we actually feel significant in a never-ending world of online comparisons?
Social media gifts us with wonderful opportunities, because it brings people together—but with every blessing is a hidden curse, and I believe this curse is killing our connection with one another, leaving us with a sense of detachment from ourselves and our fellow humans.
We’re looking for significance in the wrong place.
What I’m hearing and seeing a lot of lately, are people who are struggling in their own lives, yet, when they scroll through their Instagram or Facebook feeds, they’re left with feelings of being less than, due to the constant messages they’re getting from those feeds that everybody else is so much more than.
Nobody wants to post the picture that highlights their double chin, or write about the potential breakup with their long-term partner. No one wants to talk about the affair they’re having, or the fact they wish they had kids, but can’t. No one wants to share that they’re desperately fixing their marriage, or that they have no idea how they’re going to pay their next bill.
We’re all guilty of editing and trimming our lives so that all that’s left is the filtered version of what we want the world to see. We’ve become commodities that sell ourselves back to our so-called friends or followers, and that’s where we look for that basic human need of significance.
I don’t have the answers, only questions. But with these questions comes an opportunity to question our habits—to be more consciously aware of our behaviour in the hope that we can look forward into the future with significance that comes from within.
The places I believe we should be seeking significance are in any of the following:
To be able to do something that gets you out of bed in the morning and gives your life meaning, well, that truly is a blessing. It may be that you don’t have that in your life right now, and maybe you don’t know where to start, but if you use social media for anything, use it to find the people who do what it is that you wish you could do, and ask them how they got there. What advice can they give you? Follow their habits and rituals so you can use the platform as an education tool, in order to help you get there yourself.
Maybe you had that job, but it somehow lost its significance, because it doesn’t challenge you anymore. The joy may have been sucked out of it. Could this be a time for retraining? Could this be a time to do what you do, but in a different way? Could you move to a different area of the business, learn an additional skill, or master your craft better?
My family right now is my dog, but she makes me feel significant. She relies on me for her food and walks, and for her sense of connection. I feel that I matter to her and she does to me.
Maybe you feel as if your family takes you for granted. It’s often said that we should give what we need the most to others. If you wish to feel significant in your household, then make it a priority to make others feel the same. Give the very thing that you need for yourself to others.
It may be that you come up with a little resistance when taking on this task. Maybe your children have outgrown you a little, and would rather be with their friends. Try taking an interest in something they find interesting, and maybe do something around that.
Friends are like flowers. They need to be watered and nurtured, otherwise the friendship dies. Personally, I’m not great at watering flowers, and I would admit that I get so caught up in my life that I’m not a great multitasker either—often leaving the things that give me joy to the side.
However, what I’ve realised is, if we want to feel significant in our friendships, then we have to nurture the ones that give us great joy. We have to take an interest in them.
Take time to really listen and show up without your phone, and soon enough by the art of allowing the relationship to blossom, you’ll feel significant.
Helping a cause can make us feel hugely significant. When I used to help out at the dogs home, I felt not only good in myself, because I was able to give something back, but I felt like I mattered to those dogs that needed me for their walks. Every dog, no matter how short or long their stay was at the home, meant something to me, and I know in my heart that even for that small time I was walking them, I meant something to them.
There are loads of causes in this world that you can throw yourself into, and sure enough, you will feel that satisfaction of being significant.
So, why not get into action today? Pick one of the things from this list that you feel could help you satisfy your basic human need of significance, and act on it. It could be a game changer.
It would mean the difference between looking at your Facebook feed to fill a void, to filling that void from within.