It’s not about you

(warning, this is a CC-Chapman-esque rant, if you think I’m writing about you, read on)

Do you know the Carly Simon song “You’re so vain“?  (written about David Geffen, features Mick Jagger on backing vocals, and really annoying 70’s era strings).  The key lyric to this song (hammered home in the 2,569 repetitions of the chorus)  is :

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you


In the good old days of the internet, say 5+ years ago. The common thing to worry about was people who’s only mission in life is to point out where they think others make mistakes or are mis-informed. These are annoying people, but pretty easy to deal with with facts and the occasional delete.

There must be something in the air though, because recently I’ve seen a dramatic uptick in cases where people take general information or statements, and publicly play the oppressed victim. I’m not sure what it is about these people, but there are many, and I think they are growing in numbers. I’ve seen it more and more in my recent interactions, and I’ve seen it happen recently in surprisingly violent reactions to published content from friends and the blogs I read.

It may be an old-brain reaction to previous trauma, where the “offended” weren’t recognized in a way they saw fit, it may be pure and simple ego. I’m no psychologist, but perhaps one day I’ll play one on TV.  I think though, that I can try to help these people with a simple sentence :




It isn’t. Honest. Almost no one woke up this morning with the specific intention of pissing you off.

Simple research shows the following:

  • 99.9999983% of the content on the internet isn’t about you.
  • Of the remaining 0.0000017%, only 0.000000001% is written by people who know you exist.
  • Of those people, only 0.000000000000001% are ready to call you out publicly on the internet.

Ok, I made those numbers up. I said it was simple research! Anyway, the actual numbers are probably much, much smaller.

There’s a quick self-helpy kind of way out of this though. It simply involves conditioning your reaction.  If you find yourself reading something and taking it personally,  You just need to change your initial question when you react to something.

Instead of saying “Why is this person talking about me?“,  step back and think “Was this person really talking about me?” instead. I hope that helps you, I really do.

As a general help to those reading this blog, I include the disclaimer from my About Bob Page :

The views expressed on this site are my own and in no way reflect the positions, opinions or strategies of my employers or clients. Anything I’ve written here is evaluated on the fact that I will be able to sleep at night. If I’ve offended you, I probably didn’t mean to, or you may have mistaken my judgment of an idea as a personal evaluation. There are rare cases though, where I might actually think you’re a tool. I reserve the right to think and express that.

Photo credit : ME!  caterpillar, It really had nothing to do with this post, but I like the picture. I never said you were a caterpillar.


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  1. Bob says:

    Yes – I’m commenting on my own post —

    One of the most interesting things about publishing this post has been the emails saying “I’m glad someone finally wrote about that person” … and they each name a different person!!

  2. Angus Nelson says:

    So very good. A few years ago, I did a presentation on the “It’s not about me” concept… having no idea that it would apply to social or the blogosphere. BTW, Chapman’s good peeps!

  3. The worst thing about this whole notion that you have brought up is that it stifles people. It should not but it does. So, for example, I have been thinking about similar things and a similar topic, and may even write a post about this some day. But, I have this nagging feeling that someone that I like might take it the wrong way.

    I know I am not known for holding back much, but, I find my trepidation (fear is too strong a word) about what others might think now and then scares me off. Then again, people that know me should know that if I have a problem with someone I say it to their face, not in some way that only a Dick Tracy decoder ring can decipher.

    1. Bob says:

      Yup – I completely agree Dave –

      I almost didn’t publish it because I knew both people I knew, know and don’t know would think it was about them.

      The thing is, it’s not about 1 person. It’s about a reaction that I’ve seen a lot recently. The tipping point may have been seeing a friend called an #ass on twitter by someone who decided to react to presented facts that weren’t close to being about them personally.

      The internet has given us all a voice, some of them use it to call “Woe is Me”. I dislike this trend.

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