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There are people in this world that like to proclaim, often loudly and frequently while being jerks, “I don’t care what people think about me.” They consider it a badge of honor to have no concern about how others perceive them, to not give a damn. Personally, I think this is often a front for a lack of confidence — that these individuals actually care much more than they claim to.
Apathy vs consideration
For the record, I do think it’s entirely possible to care too much about what other people think. It’s why I’ve written about cultivating constructive apathy. But I also think it’s crucial to care about what others think of us. To consider the thoughts and feelings of others and the effect that my actions have on them. When we value other people, we must also place value on their opinions. To say, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me,” is to say, “I don’t care about anyone.”
I care what my wife thinks of me, because I value her as a partner. I care what my friends think of me, because I value them as companions. I care what my boss thinks of me, because I respect her as a leader. I care what my son thinks of me, because he’s the most important human in my life. If I didn’t care about how these individuals perceived me, it would mean that I don’t care about these individuals.
Why you should give a damn
Apathy is a lonely place to live. That’s why it’s important to give a damn about what people think, though not what everyone thinks. There are plenty of people in my life, and yours, that you should be completely apathetic to. It’s like that quote often attributed (though wrongly) to Dr. Seuss: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Give a damn
What does it mean to give a damn?
It means to care. To care about people. To care about the world, its inhabitants and the problems we’re facing as a species and culture.
Give a damn. About your friends, family and loved ones. Give a damn about climate change, public lands, libraries, neighbors.
Giving a damn about people means caring about what they think of you. And if you care about the right people, you’ll find that giving a damn about what they think will bring out the best in you.