On Feeling Important

I was watching a YouTube video that was a collection of TikTok shorts, where women talk about how awesome they are, and how they no longer need men. Their words were one thing, but their delivery was very peculiar.

Their delivery, facial expressions, and posture told a different story of smug arrogance and a high level of self-importance.

The host of the channel responds to them after their clip.

This was not something that I put together right away. In fact, it was something that I wrote off as immaturity and stupidity.

But then, as YouTube recommendations go, I ended up watching a scene from Terminator 2. This got me thinking about the premise of the movie.

John Connor is a VERY important person, even though he’s a snotty-nosed brat in the movie. He leads the resistance against the machines, which seems to be headed up by Terminators.

So one Terminator is sent back to kill him, and another is sent to protect him.

John Connor is that important to the world, to the future, and to Mankind itself.

The thing is that I watched the Terminator clip while the video posted above was still very fresh in my mind. That’s when the idea hit me.

Everyone wants to feel important. Not just important, but John Connor important.

This is a big problem on some platforms, such as TikTok and Facebook. In the interest of full disclosure, I do not use either TikTok or Facebook. I did use Facebook at one time. The TikTok videos that I see are compilations on YouTube. Plus, I follow a few YouTubers who share and comment on some of the strangest videos they have seen.

Beyond that, you might see it in the real world once in a while. It’s sometimes harder to detect.

The video I posted above is relatively light and annoying. But you don’t have to dig very deeply to find some horrific videos. One example is a woman whose baby is sick and she uses it for internet clout.

Who does this? Malignant Narcissists.

Examples can also be found, where they dance in a hospital room while a relative is dying.

YouTube titles are typically clickbait, because the average person is stupid and needs encouragement to click.

No sympathy, empathy, or Humanity is to be found.

There was a time from late grade school through half of junior high, when I felt a need to feel important. I would estimate the timeframe to be from age 12 [1976] to age 14 [1978].

The only place where I could do this was at school, and my only vehicle for achieving this was in band. Really, band was the only reason why I stayed in school.

But before the end of junior high, there was a shift in my movements and motives. I went from wanting to impress others, to wanting to impress myself. Sure, I’d still put on a show when I was drumming, because the entertainer aspect of it is valuable.

The few times that I got with other musicians in town, I’d not feel important so much as I felt connected. One of my readers is a person I had the pleasure of jamming with during this time. It was just the two of us there and his mom. That is a special memory for me that I will always keep.

I also jammed with my Health teacher and Cross Country coach, Dave Fuqua. Just sitting on the porch where he lived, playing duel guitars. I have a handful of memories like this.

Me [R] with my friend and fellow drummer, Scott. It was the Summer of 1985 and we were at an Agape festival. People would stop by and hang for a while before moving on. This wasn’t attention and importance, so much as feeling a sense of community and belonging.

I just did it more for myself, and less for anyone else. An audience is cool, and is essential especially if you’re selling albums or tickets. But I had almost nothing to gain by garnering external recognition.

Most of the truly important things I did with music in school were important to me, and went unnoticed by virtually everyone else in the school. It was less about people seeing me, and more about how I felt about the performance.

Eventually, I had to please myself and forget how anyone else felt about any of it.

This is called growing up, and growing out of it.

Some people need attention so badly that they’ll turn on the camera while they’re on the toilet and broadcast to the world. Crying used to garner lots of attention, but that’s not really good enough anymore, so crapping yourself it is.

I’d say that, out of all of the lessons that I’ve learned in life, one of the most profound lessons is when you realize that you’re not really all that special in the big picture.

I started being a musician as a child. I thought it was special that I could play trumpet, guitar, bass, drums, piano, and other instruments.

Grandpa, circa 1938. He said that playing guitar back then was as great way to meet the ladies. He certainly charmed Grandma.

What caused me to not view this as such a special thing was when my grandfather played concertina for me. I had never seen one before. In our conversation, he told me that he also played guitar, as well as almost 20 other instruments.

We all knew that he played organ for our Christmas gatherings. But I had no idea.

My grandmother would drive home the idea by saying, “You are unique and special… just like everyone else.” The thing about people who believe themselves to be special is that they dismiss the idea that anyone else might be similar in this way.

In more recent years, the idea of not being special got fortified by the vast amount of young multi-instrumentalists who can do it all. They have the nice cameras, recording gear, budget, crew, and more.

If I’d had all of that and the internet in the 70s, then I might have been one of them. Or more than likely, I’d end up doing something completely different, and keeping my music abilities as something that brings me happiness.

It is also important to remember that they stand upon the shoulders of giants. The learning materials they have at their disposal are incredibly abundant.

In my day, I couldn’t slow anything down without messing up the pitch. There weren’t really any readily-available learning videos, and the best I could do was either purchasing sheet music [which was consistently not accurate] or the Star Licks tapes.

But I digress.

It is easy to feel important when you’re the only game in town, even if it’s a small town full of mostly “simple” people. But when you venture into the world, you learn that not only are you NOT the only game in town, but that others have game that even you consider to be superior.

Going to college exposed me to lots of talented people. By the end of my two years at college, I ended up learning that I might be unique, but I’m nowhere near being special.

The more crowded the world gets, the more we all fade into the background. People get up for work in the morning and sit in traffic with everyone else who is headed out to work.

Then they go into their workplace, and eventually have the realization that they can easily be replaced by another person, or even a machine or software.

As a Quality Assurance Engineer who worked in Silicon Valley Tech for 15 years, I ended up being replaced by a combination of automation and a drive for the “culture of youth.”

It is important to acknowledge my Autistic viewpoint on the workplace. This is where I DO NOT want to be special. I don’t want to stand out. I would much rather blend into the background where nobody will notice.

This is in stark contrast to getting on a stage on the Sunset Strip and drumming. That’s when you want people to notice. When I was younger, my ego drove that. But as an adult, I was driven more by numbers because you have to have a built-in audience to get anywhere in music.

It’s still a case of things not being driven by ego.

I spent 33 years in LA working to gain that kind of attention that attracts agents and people within the industry. While I didn’t find any huge stardom or wealth, I can say that I was more valuable in 1986 than I was in 2006, simply because everyone, their mother, and their cats showed up to the party with instruments.

By 2016, with regard to music, I was gone. Invisible. Nothing. I played guitar primarily for myself and posted a few videos on YouTube along the way.

But I did so in a way where I wasn’t being competitive. This is because I saw so many videos of so many other people doing many things that I could do, and in some cases doing it better. That, or they had better boobs than me.

My ~130 YouTube subscribers are no match for her 1.45 million subs. There are two reasons why her videos do better. Anything to stand out.

Being good is only half the battle. There has to be something that stands out. When you don’t stand out, you fade into the background. This terrifies people. It is especially concerning to those who are working to be pro musicians, because the attention, views, clicks, engagement, etc., is valuable to your future as a professional player.

Is it ego? For some, it is. For others, it’s pure business.

From mid-2005 to mid-2008, I worked at MySpace. At the time, it was the biggest and most popular website in the entire world. In this situation, I wasn’t seeking attention, but I didn’t have to do that. It was baked into the experience.

That one time at Pipe Camp…

My friends on MySpace knew that I worked there, as well as other followers. I’d get invited to have lunch with Leo Quinones, a radio personality in LA. I’d get invited to all the hot shows in LA. I even got backstage with Weird Al, and he asked me if I could do him a MySpace favor by un-deleting Emo Philips’ profile.

People invited me to go hang out, and I’d do it. I’d walk into a club, and someone I had never met before would approach me and say things like, “You’re that guy who works with Tom!”

I once went to a basement party in Hollywood and got recognized by Steve-O from Jackass. We talked for quite a bit. He was not drinking alcohol at the time. I told him, “I can’t believe you risk your life for money by doing all of those dangerous stunts.” He replied, “I can’t believe that YOU are risking YOUR life just to keep MySpace going. I think your job is more dangerous than mine.”

Probably true.

There was lots and lots of attention, and I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t inflating my ego a bit. I did feel important, because I was doing my part to keep the world’s most popular website up and running.

We were hanging out at a comedy club owned by SNL’s Garrett Morris, watching Doug Stanhope and Sean Rouse perform.

But then, in mid-2008, I got downsized along with 5% of the staff. I was one of hundreds who got let go. I posted on my profile that I was let go, and the first person to contact me to see if I was okay was Justine Bateman.

We talked for about 10 minutes, which helped me not let myself get upset on the drive. It’s dangerous to drive home upset.

This was the beginning of my fade into obscurity, because I knew that once I was no longer useful to people, and no longer connected to the most powerful website in the world, that “friends” would start dropping like flies.

I was right.

For my 3 years at MySpace, I got a TON of attention. I got out of the house and did more social things that had NOTHING to do with music than at any other point in my entire life.

I was also drumming in 3 bands at the same time, on top of being very social, as well as working long days at MySpace and being a father.

In the years that followed, my bands would slowly drop off. My son grew up and got busy doing adult things. My “friends” moved on.

Before too long, all of those activities that got me out of the house and brought me large amounts of attention were gone.

It was a relief, as I felt that I needed to work on personal growth.

I’d had experience being the center of attention at times in the high school band, as well as those moments when I’d take the stage. But I’d never experienced anything like my years at MySpace.

It was exhausting. As an Autistic adult, I’d say that it was more attention than I was able to process at times. It would be almost a full decade before I learned that I was Autistic.

It was a case of getting something, thinking I liked it, realizing I did not, and then being relieved when it was lifted off my shoulders.

While I got a great deal of attention with my activities in the past, there were many times where I did not want to be as important as I felt. This was partly because I had a feeling that it was all about what they could get. People would text, call, email, or send me messages on MySpace, asking for help or favors.

I did it without expecting anything in return. It was a good thing that was my attitude, because I really didn’t get much in return at all, beyond the insane amounts of attention.

The combination of attention and being useful lead me to feel a sense of importance.

Once I got out of it, I started seeing it everywhere. I think most of it was always there, but I just couldn’t see it or acknowledge it because I was too busy soaking in my own self-importance.

For you, the blind who once could see,
The bell tolls for thee.

The most interesting thing was that when I would see it, I’d not miss it. Part of me would want to shake them into reality and tell them that attention seeking to feel important is not a healthy thing.

With regard to my music, I sought attention. But with MySpace, it just came with the territory.

But I would quickly realize that saying anything about that to anyone would not be well received, so I did the right thing by making it none of my business. People are going to do what they are going to do, and I can’t do anything about it.

Some weak and broken people have such a huge need for attention and feeling important that they are willing to do anything to get it. Anything.

The only time it really concerns me is when someone is doing something dangerous to get attention. They’re doing things to fuck up the entire planet, just so they can get praise and adoration. They hold large rallies to feed the ego. When it’s a person like this, and they’re doing things that will impact me or the world negatively, then I will care.

The only thing worse than a false sense of importance, is the false sense of no importance. This is where Major Depressive Disorder can take you if you’re not careful.

When this happens, you’ll forget about family, friend, and loved ones, as you get trapped in your own head. As someone who was trapped in his own head for the better part of 5 years, I can tell you it’s not where you want to be.

This can be highly destructive, and can even be a precursor to “un-living” yourself, to put it nicely.

When a person doesn’t feel like they matter in the world, it is important to find the healthy importance that one might otherwise overlook. This is especially true with Major Depressive Disorder and other forms of depression.

There was a time not too long ago, where I felt like the world would be better of if I no longer existed. This was because I felt like a burden on those around me. With my MDD in full force, that most certainly had to feel like a burden, as it was a burden to me as well.

In a discussion with my therapist, she told me, “Your cats need you.” I’ve written about this before, in a piece titled Finding Purpose [Is Purpose Necessary?]. I do think that purpose and importance are closely linked.

It’s something that you have to actually sit and think about when dealing with various types of depression. There are family members with whom I have healthy relationships. There are those true friends who are still there even though I’m no longer in a position to do favors for them.

The boys, being chill shortly before they take their afternoon naps.

And, of course, two cats. I feel the responsibility of taking care of them, and there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not doing things with them or for them.

There was a reason why I did not recognize this as being important, and it was because it didn’t make a difference in the world. This might be what drives those people who make self-important, arrogant TikTok posts.

My first thought as I type this is the young woman whose baby is sick in the hospital. Her being there is VERY important, especially for her baby. But the TikTok video of her dancing is not only inappropriate because it’s seeking validation from the external world full of people who don’t care.

Being there for the baby is important, and should be enough. The needs of her own baby are the hallmark of true importance. Dancing in an embarrassing, Narcissistic, and pathological video to gain attention and “clout” is a problem.

It keeps her from seeing how important she is to her own baby.

There is a difference between loving yourself and being a Narcissist. The Narcissist does not really love themselves, although most people falsely believe that they do. They’re just into themselves and whatever might make them happy or cover up the pain they suffered as a result of childhood abuse.

If you are NOT a Narcissist, then it is important to understand that loving yourself does NOT make you a Narcissist. And if you worry about something potentially making you a Narcissist, then chances are VERY good that you’re not a Narcissist. Narcs don’t even acknowledge that they are Narcs.

Love yourself, and know that you can find your importance in your own life. Additionally, you can make your own importance.

Realizing your own importance or making your own importance is something we all must do. I recognize that my life has no intrinsic value or importance to most of the world. There are over 8 billion people in the world, and maybe a few hundred know of me, or remember me. It doesn’t matter if they don’t.

And even if I did achieve my music career goals, and got rich and famous, I would still be forgotten by the vast majority of the people on the planet. Remember, there are 8 billion people in the world, and yet one million sets of ears counts as “success” in the music industry.

None of it matters in the big picture.

That said, it DOES matter right now.

Nobody cares that I’m taking care of my cats, or that I have family members who are still civil and friendly with me, or that I have a handful of friends whom I sincerely cherish, beyond those who are involved.

My Hollywood rock star days were a ton of fun. This is me, drumming on stage at The Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip for a band that asked me to fill in last-minute. Many of my music heroes performed on this very stage. These experiences and the stories that come with them are important to me. They might be fun to recall and share, but they DO NOT make me any more important than anyone else. It represents a fulfillment of my childhood dream, where I promised myself that one day I’d be in Hollywood playing music on a famous stage. More important than the people in the crowd was fulfillment of the promise that I made to myself.

That has to be enough, because it’s what we get, and it’s SO much more important than most of what we do in our lives.

The hard truth is that internet clout is much like being a rock star on a stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people. It’s so brief that it is fair to consider it to be an illusion. You work hard rehearsing, you set up at the venue, take the stage at your scheduled slot [if you’re lucky], you play your set, hang out with a few people for a while, and then go home and go to sleep.

You wake up the next day feeling like that evening was a dream. And, quite frankly, you feel like shit because it’s over.

It doesn’t have the same substance as getting an email, phone call, or text from a friend. I consider myself fortunate to have a few true friends who are a part of my life. We talk and write on occasion. That’s enough for me.

Right here. Right now. It’s all that we have, and all we ever will have. The past is far behind. The future doesn’t exist. Life is an illusion caused by death, for if we never died, then we’d most certainly not be having any discussions about living at all. In fact, the idea might never even cross our minds.

Be kind to yourself. You might not be important to the world or Humanity, but you are important to someone. It is important for us to remember this.

If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild

Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

3 thoughts on “On Feeling Important

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