The Wrong Way to Influence People
Stop using “You manifest what you project” as a threat and telling us we’re failures
Several annoying trends have emerged throughout the pandemic, particularly on social media. There is the “You just have to be tough” crew. The attitude is that if you aren’t managing to start a new business, get ripped, or managed to get an MBA whilst in lockdown; you’re a useless twat. All very well, if you’re single, childless, focused, and ambitious to the point of insanity, not so hot if you’re not.
Even then, it’s obnoxious. The vast majority of people deserve a medal the size of a bin lid for succeeding to get out of bed every day in the face of all the existential despair.
Have you noticed that the people who embody this attitude tend to be reminiscent of Mink? Sleek, shiny, and an absolute pest if they get loose. If male, these creatures have to wear v-neck vests with lots of conspicuously hairless chest on display and believe that they are the embodiment of machismo. I fell into the trap of responding to one of these people early on — however, I don’t think I was the only one rendered insensate with fury when they read the tweet in question.
(Anyone who comments that cursing is the response of people with limited vocabularies, in my opinion, does not appreciate how well it functions as stress relief.)
To me, it feels like there is a vocal section of society, particularly in the “influencer” bracket, who are so self-absorbed and lacking any concept of human frailty that they make broad sweeping without any empathy at all. They are the Ubermensch, and the rest of us are all just runty little peasants.
The great thing about the “Be tough” crowd is that they make themselves conspicuous, making it easy to avoid.
More insidious is the “You manifest what you project” contingent. It is generally followed by a cloud of the most recent mental health hashtags and slogans and reminiscent of mink. Excessively smooth. I actually think the real meaning of this (a reminder not to allow negative thoughts to take over so that you give up) is fundamentally sound. Still, some people use it thoughtlessly because it’s also a not-too-subtle way of telling people that they need to shut up when the speaker can’t be bothered to deal with someone’s pain.
In other words, it’s a great way to redirect someone when they’re rattling off a laundry list of minor irritations and visibly talking themselves into a lousy mood. However, when someone is struggling, it can be used to invalidate their feelings and cut them off. It’s like someone says to you that if you talk about your pain, you’re going to make your situation worse. There’s the implied threat that your circumstances are going to suck even more than they do at the moment.
This is a terrible thought to put into someone’s head. From my own personal experience of PTSD and anxiety, your thoughts will automatically turn to the worst-case scenario if you're in the thick of it. It’s a fact that unhappy people tend to catastrophize, and if you imply that someone doesn’t deserve to be heard, they will feel even worse. Followed abruptly by imagining that because this one person seems to consider them undeserving of support, they’ll think that everyone else feels that.
It pays to remember that the world is not real. The personas that people construct on social media are as authentic as Sean Connery’s hair. They are basically justifying their existence by stomping on others, either overtly or masked in faux positivity.
Put quite simply, trust your instincts. If it looks too perfect or explicitly states, its perfection. It’s intrinsically not to be trusted.