On Instant Validation & “Validation Spam”

“Instant validation”. I remember this key phrase from a video a while back (the link to which escaped me over time…), where a narrator analyzed our mutual human need for getting validated by our peers and this need for validation to be one of the main drivers for the phenomenal success behind Facebook in particular and the social media at large. What’s validation? Well, you give your opinion on any matter or share your feelings about something and you can be sure that someone is going to press that “like” link or give you the thumbs up or will second you in their comments. That’s validation in the web 2.0/3.0 era for you right there! Makes a whole lot of sense to me. Not only does it make a lot of sense, I’m afraid I feel spotted there for being a “validation whore” myself. Any status I’ve ever posted, any comment I’ve ever made and even any blog entry I ever wrote is pretty sure to have followed this ever-unfulfilled need: For getting validated in my views and feelings and whatnot. All of this should have happened in a safer, sounder, healthier environment. Like at home, e.g., where it didn’t really happen all that much or not that I’d remember it as such. I rather remember it as a kind of drill to get streamlined into functionning well in society – a society, b.t.w., that still knew of values like being dependable, accountable, straight, in other words: Cultural and social in the best meaning of the word. I don’t see too much of that today, although I will say that I still come across it every now and then and much to my relief and being moved and such, quite recently so in the midst of a long series of quandaries, some of them having been or being very critical in terms of keeping a roof over my head, the bulbs bright and the radiator and computer running. In that context: I had to fight to keep the computer and some very modest infrastructure that keeps me connected with the world and transatlantic wires…

You know, time and again, when I look at the situation I find myself in today, I can hear the outside observer going “You’re doing alright. What’s the fuzz about?” And I wouldn’t have much to say objecting that view. For when viewed from outside, I am doing alright, all things considered. I’m not starving, freezing, running for life or experiencing anything that would be directly life threatening. What I have trouble with conveying to the unassuming observer is that many of the seemingly harmless things feel life-threatening to me. I mean, how do you possibly convince someone that, say, a brief moment of uncertainty can spark a panic attack that might last anywhere between a few moments and hours? Hours of hyperventilating and other physical symptoms that feel as if you were standing in the way of a charging predator in the (prehistoric) open savanna with nothing but your tiny spear and your feet that will hopefully take you to a safe place before the inevitable happens?

Well, anyway. I have understood that this is a feeling that many people will most likely never encounter unless they’re facing real lethal danger . In other words: The place they’re coming from with most any situation pertaining to our day-to-day life is totally different from the place I – and other victims of PTSD – are coming from. In yet different words: There is no common denominator to base our experiences upon. There is fairly little them and me have in common. Technically speaking, there is hardly anything to talk about, as my reality is really totally different from most other people’s realities. How can I explain that catching and riding a train downtown is an enormous undertaking for me? Something that feels like a personal accomplishment of epic proportions when having mastered it? Something I feel like rewarding myself for with a tiny celebration of sorts? And what reward, b.t.w.? Shouldn’t enjoying life be the reward? I have to do without any kind of acknowledgement or support in those areas of life, as other people will naturally not even notice them much any more – they just do them in autopilot mode, similar to brushing teeth or using the bathroom. How could I possibly explain to a regular person that such things equal making an effort for me? It’s most ironic that the really hard stuff others might fret over has never been too big a problem for me. Maybe that is why I was able to get by for so long and wear a camouflage of appearing to be like anyone else. The brutal downside of this is, though, that I attracted many haters along the way or – what’s become worse – real whiners picking – of all possible peers – me to do their venting… There was barely one career situation where I did not have to deal with being bullied, often to the point of getting bullied out of the job. I have mustered resilience for some gruelling 40+ years, when I eventually noticed and realized that I was no longer able to burn all this energy on trying to fit in by any means and when I simply don’t. And so I stopped dressing in camouflage at some point and that’s the exact same moment, when my life began to fall apart – until I arrived at the breadcrumbs of my former existence, which is where I’m at now.

I have heard time and again that I should get off the pity pot. Yeah, right. To those who say that, I’d like to invite them to trade my former life with theirs for a week. I’m aware that life isn’t exactly a rose garden for anyone and that we must brave challenges and unfairness and whatnot. O.k., fair enough. But fighting a war that is seemingly doomed for failure from the beginning and on all fronts simultaneously? With plenty of room for personal frustration in addition to the setbacks and adversity life deals you on a regular basis? With no other way or place to vent anymore than the silently enduring keys of my computer keyboard and the soft hum of the server farms somewhere across the ocean that host this blog and many others?

So, for now, I’m allowing myself to be validation whore. And I spread and suck up “validation spam” on the social media. And ironically, I feel quite “normal” with that for a change…


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