Indifferent people are afraid of the world and the repercussions of their own choices. That’s why they don’t make any meaningful choices. They hide in a gray, emotionless pit of their own making, self-absorbed and self-pitying, perpetually distracting themselves from this unfortunate thing demanding their time and energy called life.

Manson, Mark (2016-09-13). The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (p. 15). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I’m a follower.  Sometimes I blame this on the fact that I’m the last of 4 siblings – I had several people more than willing to make plans and decisions growing up, all I had to do was sit back and go with the flow.  Going with the flow can be a useful trait, and one I value pretty highly – but when I ran across this paragraph, it hit me pretty hard.

I don’t make choices.  Sometimes I don’t make choices because I just legitimately don’t care.  Want to go out to dinner?  I’ll go literally anywhere.  Anywhere.  And I’ll be fine with it.  Want to make plans?  I don’t have any, but whatever you want to do is fine.

I’ve become suspicious that long term, there’s a cost to living this way – to constantly going with the flow, and relying on others to make plans or take charge. Moment to moment, it’s convenient.  But, while there’s value in the ability to be content with whatever choice is made, at the end of the day, I’m living with someone else’s choices, not making them myself.  At some point, I fear that results in living someone else’s life – or worse, living an average of the life of all the people I interact with. Life by committee.

The alternative, for me, or people like me, is scary – for exactly the reasons Manson describes. Indifferent people are afraid of the world and the repercussions of their own choices.   Choosing means being willing to deal with the consequences of my choices.  Even something as simple as dinner bears consequences.  What if it’s bad, or people don’t like it?

Maybe more significantly, publicly making a choice means being vulnerable. Indifference is a shield, ready to be wielded to ward off prying eyes into who I am and what I value – and by extension, avoiding criticism on those things.  It’s safer to stay indifferent – to feel out what other people think or feel before speaking, and lessen the risk of saying or doing anything particularly authentic.

The next time you and I go out to dinner, and it comes time to choose a place, and I inevitably tell you “I don’t care”, or “I’m game for anything”,  just leave without me.


2 thoughts on “Indifference”

    1. No – while there may be more substantial claims backed up by more substantial evidence in the book (it’s been several weeks since I finished it, I can’t recall all that well now), this one is entirely anecdotal.

      I’m not particularly worried about that though – I think an assertion like this, isn’t about identifying something deep and unquestionable about human nature, which would deserve and require real evidence. Rather, it’s a prod to be introspective and see if you identify with what the author has observed – and in that sense, for me, it was powerful.


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