Recently I was in the audience of an argument between two youngsters. I wasn’t sure if it was serious, heated or something of note in the long term story to come for these young ones.
But, I was pretty clear that I was watching a disagreement/argument.
Of course, this is not uncommon to stumble upon in modern society, yet it was the nature or should I say the topic of the argument that intrigued me.
My curiosity was first engaged when I heard one of them say “ I’ve got 1000 subscribers and you haven’t, you’re just not on my level”. I sipped on my body hugging chamomile tea (as all good millennial hipsters do) and wondered, what does that mean?
Was it an insult? Should the other person care that they don’t have that many subscribers? Is this kind of thing now the key metric for success in the emerging generation?
I had so many questions, but only so much tea to sip.
Then like a bolt out of the skies, the other person responded with “Well, that doesn’t matter because I’ve had over 2000 likes on my last 5 posts. Come and talk to me when you get like 100”. It was now clear to me that these snippets were actually insults of some kind, for these people anyway.
My initial confusion on the nature of this argument and if indeed they were hurling insults back and forth, came from the fact that these “insults” were hard to decipher. Well, they were for this 30 something human anway.
Back in my younger days, if you wanted to insult someone, you would just say “You’re a dick”. It felt simpler and had immediate impact. Perhaps, this was what was unfolding before my eyes but within a new language that I’m not a part of.
Anyways, things continued to escalate.
The argument continued with lines such as “ I had 300 people watch my live stream from that game yesterday”, “Who cares? I’ve got 5000 people following me on Tik-Tok and you’re not even on it!”, “I have the most likes and shares of all of our friends so that’s why I’m better”.
It continued on like this for about 15 minutes. Between the hurling of exchanges I would nod to my partner who was with me for confirmation on a) Am I really hearing a couple of teenagers argue about vanity metrics and b) Am I getting too old to understand what self worth equates to in the younger generations?
Although she responded in silence with just a look, I could tell she agreed on both points. Particularly on me being old, which she finds regular joy in reminding me of these days.
Eventually, this argument fizzled out and the two participants would walk off into the void continuing to squabble over who has what.
What became clear to me and probably has to you by now. Is that these two youngsters placed quite a bit of value on what the rest of the world thought of them. Their self worth was driven by the engagement that people the world over showed them through likes, comments and following their social feeds.
This gave me a deep moment of reflection on how society has shifted for the emerging generations. You could say it’s not so different to the investments on self worth that were made when I was young too. Everyone wanted to be the best at football or any other sport. It ranked where you were in the societal pecking order in that phase of life.
It’s not like generations before haven’t placed their self worth in things that actually turn out to be worthless as you age. Yet, there was something more sinister about this type of investment in self worth.
It was a measure of worth based on what I would call vanity metrics. Those which are decided by people you’ve probably never met and aren’t going to.
It seemed that these youngsters were judging their own existence over whether they had the most likes on a piece of content or not. And this concerned me. I’m no stranger to the world of social media metrics. I host a podcast and run a blog so I know too well about the pitfalls of investing in vanity figures.
However, listening to this argument whilst sipping on that lovely chamomile tea, got me thinking.
This way of thinking and values of self worth is not healthy — that’s obvious. But, who is educating the next wave of humans on what self worth really is?
I feel like I missed a prime teaching moment whilst watching these two youngsters squabble over what to them probably seemed like the most important thing on earth but to an older outsider, it was merely nothing that would deem to be of value to one’s self worth.
As I missed a teaching moment there, I will share it here.
Our self-worth should not be measured in how others see us. In most cases you should stop caring about what others think of you or you’ll always be a prisoner to their thoughts. In my opinion, self-worth should be measured by what you do, how you feel, your actions and how you treat others.
These are things that will make you feel better about yourself and are the things that I personally measure my worth more on. I know I’m a good person because I try to do good things as much as possible. I’m by no means perfect but I try.
So, back to our two arguing youngsters and their perceived turmoil of who has the most subscribers in their world.
These aren’t things that will ever determine the value of who you are and your own self worth. The likes, share, comments, followers and everything else don’t mean a thing but your thoughts, actions and intentions do.
Before you go…
If you’d like to receive a regular round-up of content like the above, then please subscribe for my weekly newsletter.
Once a week I share a curated email with lots of interesting reads from across our planet. Usually focused on learning, personal development or anything that catches my eye!
You can check out my website for more content on people development topics too.