Are We Afraid Of Being Ignored?

Invisible people in a society with a worrying lack of emotional ties.

Being invisible to society and at the same time having the recognition of this are two phenomena more linked to each other than we think. One of our biggest nightmares is being disowned as an outcast by the people around us. Being invisible or not being invisible, being ignored among our peers, can become a determining factor in life, with significant consequences in our way of being.

From Psychology and Mind we explain the causes of this reality suffered by many people, and we will try to point out some solutions

Our worst nightmare: being ignored by others.

I am sitting at a table in a bar, enjoying a good beer while listening to other people’s conversations between customers. In Spain. If you want to find out about something, go straight to a bar, possibly because of that unhealthy habit of raising your voice, you always end up finding out everything even if you don’t want to.

I put my gaze on a boy who has chosen a secluded nook to immerse himself in his reading hobby. The waiter has served three tables before, whose diners later came to him. The boy looks at the waiter impatiently but he does not see it, he looks like a ghost. However, a middle-aged man enters the establishment and everyone finds out about his presence, they turn to look at him, he is a recognized customer, one of those of a lifetime.

The waiter knows exactly what this man is going to have for breakfast and rushes to serve him between effusive conversations. The boy is becoming more and more irritated, not only because he feels ignored but also because of the histrionic joy between the customer and the waiter. Finally, he ends up yelling at the waiter and leaves with a frown.

Invisible people in the image society

This event made me reflect that, in a society as visual as the Western one, everything is easily digestible slogans . We have a vital obligation to portray absolutely everything, and a photo is always easy to digest (the saying goes, a photo is worth a thousand words).

We have developed the need to always be in the photo, and when this does not happen the world comes to us. It would be appropriate then to ask yourself the following questions; What do we want to see in each image? How do we want to be seen or remembered? And last but not least: what do we really see in a photo?

This mystery has an answer: the information deposited in our  brain, that is, all the data that we have introduced into the mind, including the psychic dynamics transformed into habit and that forms the compendium of concepts that we have regarding our own being, society and the environment that surrounds us. In short, categorized information that has also been nurtured by family, cultural and social idiosyncrasies.

From this point we have structured our psyche, in a complex system that obeys the schemes that have been mechanized like a gear in the  deepest unconscious. When someone looks at us, they do not do it through their eyes but through their mind, and see (or rather interpret) what they have experienced.

Loneliness versus company

In the concept we have of ourselves (the  self-concept ), both the drive to be absent and the inclination to be present coexist. In certain areas of our life we ​​would like to have wide recognition while in others we need to disappear from the face of the Earth, to be completely invisible.

Alternating between that need to be recognized with the need not to attract attention is something totally normal and logical, since throughout our lives we go through different personal and social contexts. The problem occurs when one becomes sickly obsessed with a single need, because the person who suffers it is applying the same schemes and norms to totally different situations, thus generating a feeling of frustration.

This is when the psyche needs to create a new perspective on the world and on itself.

“The worst sin towards our fellow men is not to hate them, but to treat them with indifference; this is the essence of humanity”


The fear of not having emotional ties

Our greatest fear is being despised, ignored, or ignored. Relationships are more productive when they are stable, when affective bonds are created that offer the subject long-term protection (since we are still social animals). The question is the empirical experiences that we live determine and condition different affective styles.

When certain affective styles go outside the norm, society tends to reject the members who possess them, since they do not comply with the previously established social canons. In the same way that many acknowledgments are unfair, disproportionate or exaggerated, a large percentage of social exclusion is also unfair. Many times we boast of our justice, but we always end up making certain groups invisible, that is the evil of our century. In our case, we are more afraid of not standing out than doing it, even if it has a negative effect.

“There is only one thing in the world worse than they talk about you, and that is that they don’t talk about you”

-Oscar Wilde

Between reality and appearances

Not being visible is due to social adjustment problems, like the guy at the bar who only stood out when he yelled at the bartender. But I’m sure the boy didn’t like the anger. It did not occur to him to be noticed through dialogue and assertiveness.

However, these situations are also due to certain illusions and expectations ; They do great feats or try to attract attention in order to receive rose petals and applause accompanied by the roll of drums, but this is still a mere  self-deception because we are not recognized for what we are but for what we appear to be.

The reductionism of the senses

Many emperors, generals, and leaders of ancient times feared that they would not be remembered, and that fear hides an even greater fear; the fear of being ignored. Do we exist if nobody sees us? Of course, yes, it would be enough for each one to accept himself, with all the virtues and defects, but for this we must enhance, as senders and receivers, all the senses, perhaps in this way we do not give it so much importance to the picture.

But sooner or later the gaze of others arrives; it can be a positive or negative judgment. Or much worse: we can be relegated to the half measures of indifference, that gray color that smells of mediocrity and in which we do not want to suffocate. It is right in the worst moments, right in that moment, when it is shown if we are capable of loving ourselves or not.

In conclusion, it is about doing an introspective analysis and much more, we could start by including the sense of hearing in a totally visual world. The problem does not lie in not being seen, but in not being heard and not knowing how to listen, among others. We need to sharpen our hearing and our sight less! We need to stimulate all the senses!

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