"Wait, do you want to go to the party?" His girlfriend Michelle asked.
"No, but I have to. Everyone's going to be so mad and disappointed if I don't go," Tim replied with exasperation, already accepting his fate and practicing his "no-seriously-I'm-so-interested-in-what-you're-saying" look.
Michelle sighed. She had heard this pretty much every week. Tim was a nice guy, a great guy. I mean, why be with him if he weren't? But this had to stop. He had to stop trying to please everyone because he thought he was so critical to their happiness. At first it was sweet, but now it's just annoying.
She paused, took a breath, and finally told him, "Tim, stop. You don't have to go. They might want you there, yeah, but the party will go on without you. You're not that important."
Well, we all do. When we post something to Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, we have this overwhelming urge to check back and see how many people liked it. If we didn't hit the number of likes or favorites that we thought that awesome picture of our dinner deserved in that time frame (somewhere between ten and fifteen seconds), then we get offended. We think that people think our dinner is gross or we picked the wrong filter or those people are assholes and don't know a good PBJ when they see it. It can be hard for us to stop and think, "Oh, these people have their own lives, their own things going on, and their own PBJ's." It's likely that they hadn't looked at their page yet because they were working or studying or doing their own thing. They weren't refreshing their feed every two seconds just waiting for you to post something so that they could intentionally not like it. Again, they have their own lives, and you're just not that important.
I see the same thing with text messages. I swear, I've had people tell me that everyone from their significant other to the guy she just met last night didn't text back fast enough. Sometimes it's people who aren't exactly math whizzes, but they've got an algorithm that shows that if he is responding X minutes slower than yesterday, then he must like me Y% less than he did. I'm serious, it's like people who figure out how to count cards, except in this case it's not so profitable (and won't get you a movie made after you). On iPhones you can see when a person reads your text (yeah, sticking with Android, that's creepy as hell), so if she doesn't respond right away, then OBVIOUSLY she's ignoring you, right? No, people don't just sit there thinking, "What would be the most fun, most productive, most interesting thing that I could do right now? Oh, I know! I'll just sit here, wait by my phone, and when Becky texts me I'll ignore it! Good times for sure."
The world doesn't revolve around you, and just because your special someone, or kid, or friend, or washing machine (yes, there are washing machines that you can text) doesn't respond to you right away, or at all, doesn't mean that they're ignoring you. He could be working, she could have left the phone on silent, he could be in a meeting, she could be rescuing fifteen puppies from a burning building. Or your washing machine could be broken. You have no idea what's going on in that person's life, but to think that someone is actively putting off everything else just to ignore you; that's one of the most egotistical things I've ever heard. Quick, are you checking your phone right now just in case your friend MIGHT have called you or texted you? No. You're not. Are you intentionally ignoring texts while you're in the bathroom? No, and for Christ's sake, if you wouldn't call someone from the toilet, don't text them from it, that's ridiculous.
When we go to the store and the person at the register is in a bad mood, it's not because of you. When that car cuts you off, it's not because of you. You're not psychic, so you have no idea what's going on in those people's lives. Maybe the cashier had a bad day, maybe the driver who cut you off REALLY has to pee. You just don't know. I can tell you that they're not acting that way because of you; they couldn't care less about you, so don't take it personally. People will think the same thing about you, that you're going out of your way to be an ass specifically to them, when you're really just on your way to save those puppies from that burning building.
Don't think that I've forgotten about you guys who are like Tim, either. If you don't want to go to that party, then don't go. If you don't want to hook up with that guy, then don't. If you don't want to cover Paul's shift at work for the third time this month so that he doesn't miss the semifinals, then don't. The party will go on without you and people won't give your absence a second thought. The guy will be fine with you not wanting to hook up, and if he's not, then now you see that he's a guy who cares more about hooking up than being with you. If you won't cover Paul's shift, then he'll find a way to get it covered as that's not your fault and not your problem.
So next time you're sitting there wondering why everyone is ignoring your funny cat video or blowing off your text, stop, because they're not. They're not important enough to stop your world for them (and if someone ever IS that important, then we really do need to talk), and you're not important enough for them to stop their worlds for you. Go out and do something. Go have fun. Go live your life. Would you want to talk to someone who cares more about the timing of texts and number of likes than his grades or job or kids? Of course not, so don't be that guy.
If you want to talk more about this, then you can always contact me through this website, shoot me an e-mail, or call/text me at (302) 464-0021. As long as you promise not to freak out if I don't get back to you ten seconds later.
What's that old saying? A watched phone never gets a text.
. . . or never boils? Something like that.
Remember: Nobody said that it would be easy, but nobody said that you had to do it alone.