One of the hardest lessons to learn, especially for me, is that "no one cares", and what that actually means.
Of course this lesson includes the fact that while I may be "a precious snowflake" no one cares about the details of my inner life. Hell, precious few care about my outer life. While I do care about the fact that no one cares that I care, I do not care to bore you about it, because I know you, dear reader, do not care either. There are more practical dimensions to this lesson than the details of how specifically I solve my small problems - especially given that my solutions probably are just that, mine, and thus probably not directly applicable to your special problems.
In this case, I am thinking less about my feelings and more about what I do, my work, and what I make. The first lesson I learned, in creative work especially, is that primarily concerning myself with the opinions of others is unsustainable because "no one cares". I learned to enjoy the process rather than care whether others were interested in what I was doing, although I admit that often I am only making a show of engagement because the social instincts and needs of our species are difficult to avoid, and in moments of weakness I do need others to care, but "faking it", "going through the motions", and trying are often good enough to get me through until I am again fully engaged with the work.
In other words, the worker1 is served better by caring about the work rather than being concerned whether anyone is interested. This is of course obvious, and essential to good work, as well as being fulfilled by your work. Feeling good about what you do in the long run comes more from fully investing yourself, than from worrying whether other people care. Interest from other people is fleeting and unpredictable. They have other things occupying their minds.
That no one cares about what you do however is proven false by observers who feel compelled to offer their opinion because they want to project their vision on to your work. They care a great deal about their opinion. They do not care about your vision for your work, nor the ideas that shape it, and certainly not the feelings that guide you as you figure things out along the way. They want you to meet their expectations. Expectations however are defined by what already exists. People have a hard time visualizing what is not there, and if you envision something new, until you make it, no one cares about it. It does not yet exist anywhere except in your mind, a place that you care about, but precious few others do2 let alone have any idea what is there.
So the second lesson is that the worker should care more about the work than what uninvolved observers say about it. Even if that person knows what they are talking about, they are not the ones doing the work. If they really cared, they would be doing the work also, and probably adapt their opinions to the specifics of the task at hand as they discover them. The work itself can indeed be a process of discovery, and I also find that discovery is best approached with an open mind engaged with the task rather than through the lens of another's opinion or expectations.
I'm going to wrap this up with out taking the care I have above because I have other things to do today which I care more about than this blog. I think that whether someone cares and about what stems from their interest, probably their self-interest. The trite version is that no one cares about your feelings because they are wrapped up in their own. And that can be extended to say that no one cares about what you are doing because they are too busy with their own shit. This is of course not strictly true. People care about what each other are doing all the time. The rich people at the top of the heap for example care a great deal that the rest of us work towards their interests rather than our own. Much of if not most of the economy is shaped around this one concern of the rich. The thing about this is that it comes from their interests. People care about themselves, but our relationships intertwine our interests with one another. So "no one cares" is shorthand for "no one cares about what I care about", and this is false unless you apply an extremely self-centered definition to what you care about. While we share interests with one another, everyone has their own slightly different angle about what they are trying to get out of whatever it is they and/or you are doing. Thus even when our interests our intertwined, what we care about differs at least slightly, although sometimes considerably, and our interests are often at odds.
This is what I am thinking about this weekend, specifically with regards to engaging other people in my game of VSGP, and to how I handle myself at work when I have to manage people and get my work done at the same time. I am insensitive to others because I am wrapped up in my own shit, and it impacts my ability to engage others in creative activities - especially where this requires bringing a vision to life. The thing is that these other people do not give a shit about my issues. If they are playing a game with me they want to have fun, and that comes from specific things that they care about. In my working situation, one of them does not care about the job which is a pain in the ass, but a common fact of life when you consider that we are coerced by economic pressure to work for the interests of others rather than our own. If I had my shit together, I would be sensitive to this, and bringing about better outcomes. There have not been any disasters or obvious problems, but I can clearly see that I am not handling things as well as I should.
I think that understanding that other people do not care about exactly what you care about is important. More important is figuring out what they care about or influencing it. Expressing what you care about without giving space to others to interact on their own terms does not work well. I did that in the last session of my game which I have not done for years. I felt childish and foolish afterwords. I think there is too much stuff that I care deeply about and try to push forward in the moment when it occurs to me, too much for others to naturally make decisions about what to engage with. Blozenberg, the setting I am currently using for VSGP, is intricate and complicated. I clearly care about how it all fits together, and I want it to seem real. But for others to engage with it I need to step back, filter what I am saying about it, emphasizing only the few, immediately important things. I have not had this problem in the past, but I have never been this invested since I have created everything from the rules to the scenarios entirely on my own. This is all me. I am very close to it, and I keep adding stuff to it that I get excited about. I am trying too hard. In truth I am also trying too hard at work, and especially in my recent communications with RDG trying to secure an interview and position.
One word for it all is desperation. I suppose what this means in the context of this post is that I care deeply about these outcomes. Far more than the other people involved, and the amount that I care blinds me to their own interests. I care so much about my own interests that I am completely wrapped up in myself and failing to take into account the interests of others. The irony of this is that when things don't go my way, because others do not share my self-centered interests, I lament "no one cares". I caught myself and realized that the opposite is true. I don't care enough to pay attention to their interests. I have met many people who live their lives like this, and it is embarrassing to see it in myself. I am glad I caught it. Considering that understanding others' interests is an important factor in securing your own I need to get my shit together, and my head on straight again.
Lastly, this new track from Living Colour fits one of the threads of this post, but almost a reverse when you consider the Neo-NAZI bullshit about demanding their freedom of expression and thus right to stomp on and bury the interests of others. The song almost comes across as irony but I still like it.
I include artists with workers because defining artists as a special category separate from workers is both pretentious and dishonest. Artists that do so are almost always really shitty artists due to the profound self-delusion that comes with such pretension. ↩
The thought police in our security state I guess also show a great deal of concern about the world inside your head, but fuck them. You'd have to be pretty fucking lonely and sad to welcome those assholes inside. ↩