Humans are finite beings.
The energy we have is finite.
The number of days we have on this planet is finite.
The number of people we can truly care about and give our love to is finite.
And yet there are so many people who tout this message (generally, via posting memes on Instagram) that they love every human being like they love their own blood-related brothers and sisters.
You know… the kind of people who are the first to post on Facebook about the tragedies in whatever country that just got harmed in some way.
News flash: people are dying in every country, every day.
You posting about the tragedy that’s currently trending on social media doesn’t make you a noble, caring, good-hearted person… it makes you an attention-seeking, value-signalling, ineffective sheep.
Here’s something that’s true about me.
I don’t care about almost everyone that exists.
Do I hope that people across the world (most of whom I will never meet) continue to wake up, take responsibility for themselves, and do good with their lives? Yes.
Do I hope that most people are happy? Sure, as long as their happiness is earned and not the complacent happiness that comes from consistently prioritizing comfort over growth.
But that doesn’t mean that I have the energy, time, or attention to actively care about them.
There’s well over 7 billion people in the world right now. There’s also over a million people who read my writing every month and my brain has no way of even beginning to comprehend what that number truly means or looks like.
This is also why I don’t watch the news.
I have already decided what my life is about.
Once in touch with my core values, it seems a natural extension to then ask myself, “Does watching the news carry me further toward my goals, or further away from them?”
In other words, does doing this make me more or less effective at the thing that my life is most about?
I ask the same question against everything I do.
Does eating this triple patty burger take me closer to or further away from honouring my mission?
Does staying up until 3am playing video games get me closer to my goals, or would going to bed at a reasonable hour do more for me?
You’ve probably heard of Dunbar’s number…
Robin Dunbar concluded that any one person can only sustainably maintain relationships with 150 people at any given time. Anything past that, and it’s too hard for our tiny brains to keep up with.
And no, having 3,000 Facebook friends doesn’t mean that you’re keeping up with those digital ink blots in any real way.
Right now, there’s about 12 people in my life who I am the most actively connected to. We have the deepest relationships of anyone that I interact with. And there’s about 30 people I’m more loosely connected to outside of that A-team, and then 250-ish in the third concentric circle.
And because I’m a finite human with finite time and even more finite social energy (introverts unite!)… me giving my time to those 12 people means I am constantly choosing to not give my time to almost everyone else.
Time, energy, and yes, love, are all rationed out based on my values system on a daily basis.
So when people ask me if I’ve seen the horrible tragedy in the news, I proudly proclaim, “Nope.”
Because keeping up to date on who got murdered in another country means absolutely fucking nothing to me.
Not because I don’t care about the fact that people get murdered in general… or that I’m so cold hearted that I wouldn’t care if one of my twelve closest people was murdered… but because me frittering away my energy by caring about someone I’ve never heard of or met does absolutely nothing for me, other than make me more ineffective at doing the thing that I believe does help humanity move forwards, if only 0.0000001%.
And unless you’re planning on donating half of your life savings to the cause that you’re posting about on social media… or you’re going to fly to the recently impacted country and give the cause your time and attention, then stop pretending (to yourself and others) that you care about all of humanity equally.
Of course you don’t. Nor should you.
You only have so much energy to give out. If you aren’t consciously investing your energy in a way that honours your internal value system, then you’re probably just staying scattered and remaining ineffective because you’re actually afraid of stepping into your life’s work.
– Your time and energy are extremely finite
– Don’t pretend you care about everyone equally when you absolutely do not
– It’s better to give all of your energy to one cause, one mission, one set of friends and really move the needle forward in a focused way… than to scatter yourself endlessly and be ineffective at everything you say you care about