My Most Significant Post

Another school shooting. Damn. Everytime the “Breaking News” banner comes across my television screen I cringe, hoping it’s not as bad as the picture my colorful mind has painted up. This one in New Mexico. They say sun provides people with vitamin D, essential in creating happy people, but even warm weather climates are subject to tragedies. Shootings amongst civilians have been popping up all over the country, so gun culture, background, and wealth doesn’t make anyone more or less privy to these incidences.

Whenever these horrific acts happen, we always want to know why. What was the gunman’s motive? Was it mental illness? Were they provoked? I believe finding a reason gives us a sense of peace. It’s always a shame when we don’t get an answer to these questions, like the recent Sandy Hook shooting. With no notes or clues, and no gunman to be questioned, we are left feeling helpless.

No one incident is like another, and I would never want to simplify a complicated and horrific event, but the human will, human desire, is pretty simple and straightforward. We all have this aching need to feel significant.

Think about it. Our every action is in an effort to feel validation, importance, or needed in this world. Tony Robbins even identifies “significance” as one the 6 human needs.We tweet hoping for retweets and new followers, constantly refreshing our news feed. We volunteer, donating our money and time to charity, because knowing that we’ve made a difference makes us feel good about ourselves. We search for relationships. Love is like a drug. Knowing someone can’t live without you invokes feelings of strength and achievement. Hell, even penning this blog post offers me the opportunity to share my views with a large audience, possibly inspiring or challenging a reader. Either way… I. Am. Heard.

That’s really what we want. Hear me. Notice me. Love me. Need me. Recognize me.

That’s why I could never hate my critics. I can’t genuinely be mad at a cruel tweet. I’ve been given wonderful opportunities to be heard and to feel significant. That less than favorable comment is their opportunity, and I have to respect that.

And so, I have a crazy hypothesis. Today’s day and age, full of fascinating technological advancements and bombastic media coverage, creates so much noise, we are stifling individual significance. And for some, it is too much. They do not know how else to be heard above all the noise.Our value is now determined by Facebook friend counts, “winks” received through online dating, and who texts us as the clock strikes twelve on our birthdays. We’ve allowed impersonal technology to define our personal significance.

So how can we change this? Is there anything we can do to reverse this modern day, ill-fated domino effect? There is no easy solution, but I think it starts with looking someone in the eye. Saying “thank you” and really meaning it. Shifting our focus from what will make me feel good, to what will make someone else smile. I know this all sounds very crunchy granola, but granola is full of fiber, and who doesn’t feel amazing after a good BM? Think about it.


3 thoughts on “My Most Significant Post

  1. This is a powerfully well-written piece, Joanne. My mother is an elementary teacher (has been for years) and she sent me a text from her school as soon as the Berrendo middle school shooting news broke on Tuesday (you’d be proud to know she gets the FOX NEWS live breaking news alerts via text). Her first reaction was to text her “journalism graduate” son, as she so fondly refers to me, because she knew I would already have all the details of the story. But her first question, every time a school shooting occurs, is “why?” It’s just as you put forth so brilliantly in this piece: It is human nature to need to feel loved, noticed, recognized and accepted. And the sad truth is that our society, with all of its human achievements, cultural accomplishments and technological advancements, is and always will be flawed. There will always be those who feel they have been unjustly tossed aside or carelessly thrown under the bus and, unfortunately, some of them, be it for lack of social skills or a communication platform, will find a way to be heard by any means necessary, even if their methodology requires violence and the death of innocents. It is very well minded of you to point out that many of us have “allowed impersonal technology to define our personal significance.” Let us always hope and pray that parents, teachers and those with notable communication platforms, such as yourself, will continue to encourage and promote positive ways by which we can all impact one another for the betterment of our society and our culture. This is a wonderful piece, Joanne.

    Joshua Givens
    Mobile, AL
    Twitter: @JoshuaGivens

  2. I’ve always found you to be bright and very funny so I wandered over here. It may be just a function of age, (meaning the perception that this is somehow a new situation) but technology has not changed this at all. These are things that have always existed and will always exist.
    I do agree that most people are looking for validation, and that’s why I say that it may be a function of age. As you get older you start to realize that virtually no matter what you do, what you accomplish, unless you are one of the real geniuses of history, the Da Vinci’s, the Einstein’s et al, your most important accomplishment, the way you will be remembered is in the hearts and minds of those that you love, and touch in whatever way, during your life, particularly family.
    No matter how “successful” you are, it is, as they say, fleeting, but you are maintained in the memories of those you impacted.
    So, these tragedies have always existed, and will always happen. The instrument of their occurrence is less relevant than the isolation felt by those who commit them. And it’s the type of isolation that is difficult, if not impossible, to ameliorate.

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