Thursday, May 30, 2024


by Sam
0 comment

We have boiled it down to a simple mistake that we call “worrying about what the neighbours think,” as if this was a trap that only people with average intelligence could fall into. In fact, this is something that everyone does unconsciously unless they have taken very self-aware steps to control their impulses. We are all born with the instinct to let other people’s opinions shape our lives. If we want to get back the freedom that is rightfully ours, we must work hard to overcome this instinct through intellectual growth and nuanced reasoning.

So, what are some of the most important things we can do to make sure we don’t give in to the bad ideas of our many “neighbours”:

1. To start, we need a better understanding of the history and, to some extent, the biological reasons why we care so much about what other people think. We aren’t crazy for being so worried because, until very recently in our evolution, we all lived in small communities where the opinions of our clan members really could mean life or death.
But, just like with diet and a lot of other things, our natural instincts haven’t caught up with the way things are in the modern world. One of the best things about living in the modern world is that we no longer have to talk to our neighbours. Because of this, we can live very independent lives in big cities. We can eat alone, figure out who we are on our own, and make money in many different ways that don’t involve other people. We usually don’t think about the fact that not knowing the names of our neighbours on our street may actually be a very good thing. It’s especially sad that, in general, we still react to every rumour about us in the same panicked way that our ancestors might have done when they lived in densely populated forest camps 6,000 years ago. We should appreciate the benefits of our modernity as much as we can. There are police forces to protect us, a few angry people on another continent can’t hurt us, and mob thinking can’t hurt us anymore, as long as we can get our minds to remember that not caring about every random opinion is the smart thing to do at this point.

2. One reason we respect each other is that it’s hard for us to let go of the idea that our neighbours’ thoughts must be the result of some kind of intelligence that deserves respect. Why else would so many neighbours think a certain way, and why might they have done so for so long? But if we did that, we would miss the amazing and always surprising role that mistakes, accidents, and delusions play in making what we call “common sense,” which is a big mix of ideas that everyone agrees on. Even if an idea makes a lot of logical sense, is supported by the beliefs of millions of people, and has been around for hundreds of years, it can still be completely and fatally wrong.

In the end, our trusting nature is a holdover from our childhood, when we trusted the adults around us almost blindly. We did this because these adults were twice our size, knew how to drive, could kick a ball 15 metres into the air, and seemed to know everything.

But keeping a childish way of thinking as an adult is a sign of low self-esteem that has no place in a life that is meant for an adult. At some point, we’ll have to act like the teacher doesn’t know something. And in the same way, each of us has the potential to be the first to think of important ideas that the majority of people have missed. Because of a number of things for which it is easy to feel a lot of sympathies, it is possible that the neighbour is just a complete and utter moron about the things that really matter. Also, this statement is in no way meant to be hurtful.

3. We tend to think that our neighbours have always thought a certain way and will always think that way. Because of this, we often think that it is our job to change our views so that they match theirs. But this is to forget how neighbour thinking is always changing and how stupid it would be to rely on it too much and hope that it won’t make us look silly one day. This is to forget how much neighbours’ ideas change over time. It’s possible that at some point in time, thinking about your neighbours will be strongly linked to a certain way to make money, live your personal life, or raise your children, and then only a few years later, it will be strongly linked to a very different way of thinking. For the sake of ideas that the majority might change its mind about in a few years when our lives will be almost over, it doesn’t seem worth giving up our integrity or our idea of happiness.

4. It’s not true that what people in our neighbourhood “think” is the most important thing to us. We also often want something much more emotional and dangerous from our neighbours: we want them to like or even love us. We would like to be friends with them. We want them to care about us and treat us with respect. We think that being loved and cared for means agreeing with their ideas because we think like them. On the other hand, we should have a healthy dose of scepticism about what we can really expect from the average neighbour. In fact, these types will never love us for following the rules they set. Fitting in with the crowd doesn’t give you any special benefits. This kind of love is not worth giving up anything for in the future. No matter how good we are, if we get into trouble, the neighbour will be more than happy to leave us and go the other way. When the real benefits of living in a clan (high levels of loyalty and trust) aren’t even possible, we shouldn’t pay the price of living in a clan (the nosiness, intrusion, and group bullying), which is expensive.

5.It’s okay to look for love from other people, but we make a big mistake when we look for it from too many people. We do need a few more people to play roles that are mostly for us. What we don’t need is for everyone in the community to come up to us and offer their lukewarm and shaky best wishes. We can get out of here if at least three of our best friends are willing to put in a lot of work and take a chance for us.

6. Finally, let’s be kind to our neighbours. There is no such thing as a simple neighbour on the inside. Neighbor-think is something that every neighbour hates deep down in their scared little hearts. He, too, has the thought in the middle of the night that the whole idea he is working for is probably not worth the candle he is burning. Even he has some doubts about the small moral rules he tries to follow. If he knew how to do it, he would want more than anything to stop being such an annoying neighbour. He wants to be on his own way too much. The neighbour is a lawbreaker who, right now, doesn’t have enough courage.

By breaking openly with neighbour-think, we are not hurting the neighbour in any way, shape, or form. We’re just giving a voice to a spirit of independence that represents the neighbour’s best hopes for himself and which he might try to access one day if he learns to follow our newly rebellious and strategically defiant example. In other words, all we’re doing is giving voice to a neighbour’s desire for independence, which is really his best hope for himself.



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