For all the assertions of individuality and uniqueness, we humans have a primal desire to be liked. Millennia after we stopped being primates, we still haven’t let go of the instinct to be accepted, adored and worshipped by our peers and communities. It remains our primary survival instinct.
Hence, tentative glances around a group to see if the point we’re making is winning support from listeners. Mindless ‘likes’ on Facebook that aren’t so mindless actually, they’re entry passes into communities because there is safety in numbers. The most fervent rebel will still be beholden to the primal instinct even as he turns back to see who’s become a fan.
It serves a purpose, sure, this desire to be liked. It made sure you could stay with the tribe, partake in the feasts, be protected.
Yet, it is tremendously exhausting as well. It goes up against our countervailing need to stand out, stand superior to the rest so that we get the first right to the kill. After all, survival was guaranteed, during those brutish, untamed days in the threatening environment, for those that were the top dog in the band because they ate the first, the best, the most.
Despite the passage of so many millions of years, the desire to be liked retains its hold on us. In modern times, it means, very simply, stand tall, just not too tall.