If you got the skin to be rejected 800 times in a row, 801 is gonna be a crazy play.
– Social Media Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, describing the Hot Girl Rule (~45:10)
Having travelled and moved around a lot in the past several years, I’ve been through a number of social resets. I like exploring the world, so my reasons for moving have a lot less to do with jobs, family, and other social connections, and a lot more to do with adventure. I am addicted to culture shock.
But my reasons for starting over have not always involved relocation. Sometimes I’ve just fallen out with a few key people and find myself, socially speaking, back at square one.
This is not an easy place to be. I think I spent my first year in Montreal just feeling sorry for myself: Why is it so hard to meet people? Why can’t I just find a girl who loves me? Why can’t there be someone out there who worries about me?
It was around that time, a little over four years ago, that I realized that self-pity is self-destruction. The reason it was so hard to meet people was because all I did was sit on my own ass and whine — to myself — about how hard it was to meet people. The reason I was single for the first year I lived in Montreal was because I rarely went out. Except maybe for a walk to contemplate how lonely I was.
Having been through this experience many times, I eventually forced myself to adapt. Blaming the world for problems I created was just not a long-term option. I realized that this feeling that “nobody cares” wasn’t what caused my loneliness. Far from it. In fact, it was only by truly understanding that nobody cares that I was able to finally make sense of my social life issues, and figure out how to solve them.
Why Meeting People Is Hard
Building your social life is a lot like building a business. The currencies are different, but the mechanics are similar.
The startup entrepreneur starts out in a war against indifference. But those that succeed at attracting customers do well because they know this: Nobody cares. Nobody cares about your architecture. Nobody cares about your website. Nobody cares that you’ve reached Inbox Zero. Nobody has even heard of the event at which you won that award. Nobody knows that you have something for sale. And even if they do, they probably still don’t care.
And the same principle applies for startup socialites as well: Nobody cares.
Nobody knows that you exist. Nobody wants to meet you. Nobody cares that you are interesting to talk to. Nobody is going to coax you out of hiding. And that bikini-clad babe who just moved in next door? Borrow some sugar? Bottle of wine? Night of unbelievable sex?
“Nobody cares” is not meant to be cynical or patronizing. Rather, it is a natural byproduct of the scale of humanity. In business, your potential customers just have so much stuff to choose from that they can’t possibly notice more than the tiniest fraction of what is out there. They might not even realize that they “need” what you are selling, and even if they’re aware of their need, they may not understand that your product fulfills it.
In social spheres, the barriers to entry aren’t nearly as high, but there are similar forces — and similar filters — to contend with. Overcoming loneliness means fully accepting that these forces exist and working with them, instead of against them.
So how does “nobody cares” translate from a reality check for entrepreneurs to a wake up call for expanding your social life? Here are some thoughts:
- Don’t buy the rhetoric that “it’s hard to meet people” where you live. Those are the words of an energy vampire. That’s like a business owner saying “it’s hard to find customers in this city.” Of course it’s hard. It’s hard to find customers in any city. Welcome to Planet Earth. Population: 6.7 billion. Retaining one’s sanity here requires an unconcern for the vast majority of things. And — by default at least — that includes you.
- 80% of businesses fail. Which means that 80% of the time, indifference wins. If you’re hitting it off with more than 20% — even 10% — of the people you make contact with, I have only two questions for you: 1. How are your writing skills? 2. Wanna write a guest post?
- Get out of your house. Nobody cares. And if you’re staying at home, taking long baths to “think” about things, and repeatedly promising yourself that tomorrow is The Day that you are really going to crank it up, then they will keep not caring.
- Salespeople are the masters of rejection. They spend most of their day getting brushed off by people that don’t care. And they make a hell of a good living at it too. If you’re willing to expose yourself to massive rejection, you win.
- We buy products for the same reason that we choose friends and lovers: they make us feel better and do better. Social success isn’t about you kicking ass, it’s about helping other people kick ass. So consider: What do you know that you can share with others? What can you help other people be better at? What do you want to see changed in the world, and where might you find others that want the same thing?
- Be honest: How many people where you live even know that you exist? 50? 100? Maybe 150? What about as a percentage of your city’s population? 0.00005%? Unless you live in a smaller place, cracking even 1% is almost impossible. An entrepreneur who doesn’t advertise his product would not get depressed if nobody bought it. And yet a lot of people do get depressed when they don’t “advertise” themselves (by going out, meeting people, talking to strangers, etc.) and nobody comes knocking.
Ultimately, if you are in a social rut, I am there with you. I know what loneliness is like and I know there is a way out. Nobody cares does not mean that nobody will care. It’s just a reminder that there are forces and filters that, while helping us cope with information overload, also make us invisible to each other. And the way to social savviness is not to ignore them, but to incorporate them into your action plan.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’ve moved a lot. And a few months ago I moved again, to Berlin. But unlike when I moved to Montreal, this time I wasted no time waiting for the world to come to me. I have built an active social life since arriving here. I’ve met some brilliant and interesting people. I will write more about this later this week, including the specific places I go and the activities I participate in that have exposed me to a wide variety of people who have been fun getting to know.
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