Thoughts on having to do things for oneself – the difficulty in detaching ourselves from society – the importance of the image of society

Here’s a thought I had:

Over the years I have found that one does must do things for oneself.  In general, I have found that people don’t need you, nor does society, nor does society care what you think . . . this fact has been impressed upon me quite heavily in my life.  Very little has proven otherwise.  My experience is that no one cares what you think, do, or say.  I’ve have had enough conversations with people to know that saying things is usually a waste of time.  Whether they agree or disagree, it will all be forgotten in a couple of hours anyways.  Society doesn’t need you either.  There’s already too many people with too many points of view, with too many ideas.  Any thing we say or do is just more noise to the already constant human static.  We’ve all become a big blur of humanity, with too much of everything.  Besides, someone can always prove anything you say wrong anyways.

Since people aren’t needed anymore, nor their ideas, I found myself having no choice but to go my own way and do things for myself.  In other words, I was basically forced to do and think things not as a demonstration of social convention and/or belief but because of what I felt was right.  I could not rely on what other people or society said was right . . . no one cares.  In other words, I found myself having no choice but become detached from society.  What I have found is that this has put me in a whole new perspective about things.  Its made me look at things from a totally different point of view, relying totally on what my gut tells me is correct.  I have to rely on my gut because its all I have.  Whether society approves, disapproves, or whatever . . . I have no choice but not to care.

But I’ve found that this detaching from society is far more difficult than it seems and takes a great deal of courage.  In fact, its impossible.  My observation seems to show that people who say they don’t need societies approval usually are seeking it but in a different way.  Many people who claim to be ‘individualists’, for example, are only doing it because its a social ideal (that is, they are seeking societies approval by pursuing the ideal of an ‘individualist’).  I’ve also seen people who claim they do not need society but yet they have a deep contempt for it . . . only showing their need for social approval by their disappointment in it.  This has shown me that, unbeknownst to us, we tend to always seek societies approval even when we ‘pretend’ to abandon it.  The fact is that we are social animals and need ‘society’ to approve us, at least in some way, and we need to feel a part of a ‘society’.  Because of this, we ‘modify’ our behavior, our thinking, our knowledge, our understanding, and our points of view in order to seek social approval more than we realize.  My personal feelings is that no one is completely removed from the need of social approval, regardless of how much they think they are.  For a person who thinks they don’t need social approval, they actually seek it in other ways such as:

  • “Specific” approval.  They seek approval from a specific aspect of an ideal or a belief found in the society.  This can also appear as a seeking of approval from a specific person.
  • “Frustrated” approval.  Because a person may have no overt approval, they display their need for approval by having contempt and dislike for society.  This contempt or dislike is really a result of frustration, revealing a deep inner need for acceptance.

These are all ways that we seek approval in roundabout ways, often without our awareness or knowing.

For me, one of the problems that’s compounded this problem is the question:  “what society am I seeking approval from?”  To be frank, I can’t find a society nowadays.  What I see is more like a mob or a blur of humanity.  In other words, its hard to seek approval from a society that is too large.  Who, and what, does it represent anyways?  I don’t know.

Not only that, this mob of humanity is continually changing, like some blind animal, saying one thing, then another, and then another . . . what does a person follow?  This shows that one of the problems of seeking approval from a society is that we need a constancy in a society . . . but it changes too much nowadays.  This makes it very hard to ‘pinpoint’.

Another aspect of social approval is that societies ‘live’ and ‘die’ within a persons lifetime.  I know, very well, that the society I seek approval from is the Victorian-like society I saw as a child and which no longer exists.  This is a good example of “specific” approval but of a unique form:  its seeking approval from a ‘dead society’ that is no longer ‘alive’ or ‘active’ in life.  Many of us, I think, are doing just that, far more than we realize.  I call this the ‘dead society approval’.  That is to say, we are seeking approval from a society that no longer exists.  This seems common, of course, with people as they get older.  Many people, at the age of 60 for example, are seeking approval from the society that was there in their 20’s and 30’s and which no longer exists.   This appears to be a common tendency.  This shows that we seem to seek approval from the society that existed when we were in our 20’s and 30’s.  Once we go past this age we tend to seek this ‘dead society approval’.  In some respects, its a significant part of ‘aging’.

Some people seek approval from an imagined society they create in their minds and then try to seek its approval.  This is ‘imagined society approval’.   This seems particularly common with teenagers.  They often fantasize about a society in their heads in which they are a significant part of (often being the most popular person, of course).  They do this primarily because they do not feel a part of society.  Because of this, ‘imagined society approval’ tends to be a result of daydreaming and tends to reflect a frustration.  Its a society as they wish it were, which usually makes them become important or significant in some way.  I also think that the social media fosters this as well, by preying on this need for acceptance which many kids find they cannot receive.  It makes many kids have no choice but imagine a society where they are important and have value.

Other people seek approval from a viewpoint based in opposing the current society.  This is the ‘opposed society approval’.  Their “approval” is in opposing everything.  Whatever society says, they oppose or go against it in some way.   This, though, tends to create things like counter-cultures, rebellion, underground movements, and so on.  There’s a number of reasons for it:

  • The “frustrated” approval.  That is, its a manifestation of someone’s frustration at society.  As a result, it generally reflects an anger at society.
  • “Opposing one society to seek approval from another”.  In this, they oppose the greater society, generally, as a means to gain approval from another smaller society.  A good example of this are counter-cultures.  This is really a form of seeking”specific” approval as described above.

In both of these, they appear to oppose society, often appearing against it, but they are only doing this as a manifestation of their need for its approval.  In that way, its sort of a ‘reversed approval’.

Another aspect of seeking societies approval is the “society within a society approval”.  This is often caused because society becomes so large that we end up seeking approval from lesser societies within the greater society.  These lesser societies often become so important that they tend to transcend the approval of the greater society.  A good example of this are the “family society” (the society created by family members) or “friend society” (the society created by a group of friends).  In many cases, people will seek only the approval of these ‘lesser societies’, completely disregarding the greater society.  In other cases, the dominance of the lesser societies will become so great that they will begin to have contempt for the greater society to the point that it becomes a form of “opposing one society to seek approval from another”.

These all show how society is not viewed as a concrete entity, as something clear-cut, and definable.  In actuality, our image of society is malleable and actually an imaginary thing, consisting of a lot of imagination.  Because of this, there are many images of society that are created depending on us, our character, and our situation in life.  In general, we try to create an image of society in our mind, one that suits us.  We then seek the approval of that society.  But – and this is important – we need to have an affirmation that this image is a ‘viable’ image.  In other words, it takes more than an image to create society.  It needs more:  real-world fact.  This means that there are actually two “societies”:

  1. Society-as-image.  This is the society we create in our mind, that satisfies our inner need and want.
  2. Society-as-fact.  This is the society in-the-world as an entity that behaves and acts out in the world.

This shows that society is an interplay, a mixing, of imagination and real-world reality that come together.  In other words, society is not something that is just ‘there’ like a building.  In actuality, we play a big role in its creation.

This ‘mixing’ means that it is different for each one of us.  Because of this, the question of approval is not necessarily a manifestation of the approval from ‘the society’ but, more often than not, the approval created by our ‘personal image of society’.   This is the image of society that the ‘mixing’ of the two societies creates.   In short, even though the image of society appears ‘social’ it is, in actuality, very personal.  Because of this, the trouble in finding approval may range from real-world reality (such as an inability to find a society to seek approval from) to personal problems (such as a personal insecurity).

Because we have a large hand in the ‘creation’ of the image of society, the image that results is often very reflective of us and our traits.  This makes it so that the ‘personal image of society’ can be influenced by many personal factors such as:

  • Our ability to create an image of society.  In many ways, the creation of an image of society is an ‘art’ . . . some people have that ability and others don’t.
  • Our mental state.  Because of this, some images can be described as healthy and some can be described as unhealthy.
  • Our experience.  Naturally, good experiences tend to create good images and bad experiences tend to create bad images.
  • Our luck.  Sometimes, we just create a good image of society for no apparent reason (or a bad one, for that matter).
  • Our understanding.  A good image of society often depends on a good understanding of what society is and what it does.  Many people have poor images due to lack of understanding.

This shows how our individual traits affect our view of society, showing its very personal nature.  In other words, it more or less means that the image of society is not ‘set in stone’ and definite, like the color purple, but very malleable, depending on the individual person.

In these days of a degraded society-as-fact, the image of society is especially important.  I’ve seen many cases where this degraded society-as-fact has tested people to great lengths.  In addition, I’ve seen cases where its put many people in great turmoil.  It seems that many people are starting to no longer create an active ‘personal image of society’.  That is to say, where there is a great active interplay between the two societies, of creating an image of society while being a part of it.  Instead they see society as some ‘object’, as an inanimate ‘thing’ which they minimally associate with.  What this does is create a passive ‘personal image of society’.  In this, there is only minimal ‘mixing’.  There is an absence of creating an image of society and in associating with it.  This tends to create something like a division between the two societies so that ones creation of an image of society is removed from the real-world society.  When this happens an interesting thing happens:  it makes a person ‘alone’ in society.  This being ‘alone’ may be felt as an actual loneliness but, oftentimes, it is not.  It is often felt in other ways such as something like a despair or a detachment, a struggling, a frenzy, etc.  In fact, the sense of emotions such as the ‘rat race’ is probably a reflection of this sense of loneliness.  One can see that when I say ‘lonely’ it has a broader meaning.  In some respects, it means that a person can’t ‘keep up’ or ‘relate’ to the real-world society and, more importantly, they can’t create an image of society to fit it.  This division creates a separation of society causing a sense of loneliness form it.

This shows that the image of society has a lot to do with a sense of loneliness in the world.  In other words, loneliness is often a result of problems with the image of society not with being lonely.  More importantly, it shows thatloneliness is very much related to the active association between the two societies and an active ‘personal image of society’.

This brings up the question of “what is an active ‘personal image of society'”?  I think it has a number of traits:

  • A healthy image of society, based on good experiences and success with ability.
  • A continual on-going association with the real-world society causing a continual alterations in ones image.
  • A real-world society that one can ‘keep up with’ and ‘relate’ to.

With these traits ones association, and image, of society becomes a ‘growing with’, of a ‘becoming a part of’.  These qualities, in a way, make it ‘active’.  One could easily replace the word ‘active’ with ‘growth’ and it would be the same thing.  With this view of ‘active’ one can see that, in active ‘personal image of society’, the society becomes an extension of themselves, that goes beyond them, and lives beyond them.  This makes it very much a part of who one is.  We could call this the ‘extended image of society’, when it becomes a part of us and we become a part of it.  When this happens, we feel ‘complete’.  When we don’t feel this we feel ‘incomplete’ or, to put it another way, ‘lonely’, which is another way of saying ‘removed from society’, that it is not a part of us.  And so, what we find is that this ‘becoming a part of’ is, in fact, the ‘approval’ from society that we all need . . . this is what we seek and need.  We seek it to feel ‘complete’ or ‘whole’.  And so, when I say ‘approval’ it does not mean someone saying “yeah, we approve of you”, but it is a deep sense of ‘becoming a part of’.  In actuality, it does not require words (or a person, or persons, for that matter) but a sense, a sense from within a person.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Life in general, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Society and sociology, Stuff involving me and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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