I was raised in a society that groomed me to be a performer — capturing the best of myself, sharing it with the world, and being rewarded for it. With social media’s ability to connect people, my showcased lifestyle is open to a wider audience of admirers. But, is the formation of a “performer culture” creating a societal dependence on external validation instead of self-fulfillment?
This idea of seeking external validation is extremely interesting when viewed through the germane lens of dating — specifically app dating. (Happy belated Valentine’s Day everyone!)
In these apps, users create perfect profiles that highlight their greatest swimsuit pic. You swipe right, or left, and you keep swiping — finding other singles in your area. Eventually, you start to see some matches come in. Yay! “Others find me attractive,” you say to yourself. And, on some narcissistic level, we all crave that match to support our egos (both online and IRL). We want to know our worth in the world, and we weigh it heavily on others’ opinions of us.
I’ve messed around with app dating, and I’m always amazed that the dates I go on amount to nothing more than a stupid story and a little less money in my bank account. What I later realized after going on a few dates is that everyone is in it for the same reason: we all want attention, not connection.
Where does this come from?
Think back to when you were little. Your parents or grandparents would give you endless love and attention. Affection was handed out like free cars on Oprah. Then, you turn 18. You move out of our parents’ house. You don’t receive validation and praise that you are so used to getting. So, you seek opportunities that give you that moment of joy, that quick release of dopamine your brain craves.
We are groomed to be performers, and that’s not a bad thing. I believe we all have outstanding talents that deserve to be shared. But, as performers, we have the instincts to seek external applause for everything. We have to remain disciplined enough to know that our happiness and fulfillment can’t be reliant on the world’s response to what we do. We need to be proud of our own performances and not be dependent on attention.