The need for esteem – aka “Please like me” – is another of the big devices with which we are controlled. In fact I would lump it in the same group as guilt and shame. They may be different words but the physiological symptoms they point to – or if I want to be fancy (and I do) the phenomenological description they symbolize – is the same. They all represent for us the views and judgments with which others view us.
Now this opinion we have that determines what causes us to feel guilt, shame or that we are being disliked determines are actions. It makes us act in ways we may not want to act and it constrains us from behaving in ways we may want to behave.
The content of these feelings is something like this: “I best not do this because these people will not like me.” or “I should do this to make this person happy”. Where do we gain this information concerning people’s preferences? I don’t believe we get it from the people themselves. Though we may get part of this information from those people that we know I would argue that we get the majority of these opinions from social institutions such as the media, the educational systems, and the family we were unfortunate enough to be born into. That is to say: though you believe that your reticence to behave in a certain manner is born from the others opinion of you it really isn’t; it is born of your opinion of their opinion of you which is in its turn born of the social conditioning you have unwittingly received.
The media is probably the biggest culprit in this. It subtly and implicitly broadcasts a kind of social norm. It broadcasts the message “This is what is appropriate, this is what is cool, this is what every body likes” and the reason this message is so powerful is that it is never explicitly stated. Rather it’s implicit in the attitudes which the behavior of characters in shows portrays.
It is implicit in the statements celebrities make. In fact the very choice, the demarcation between who is a celebrity, who is a “popular” celebrity and who is not a “popular” celebrity is probably one of the most powerful tools of social engineering invented yet. This is because the media has you booing before you even consider what it is you are booing and this then slips so easily into the opinions expressed in your internal monologue which you don’t question! Which you think is you but is really just an amalgamation of all the influences you have suffered. Which is the voice that you think is you judging yourself according to your opinions but is really the internal representative you have constructed for yourself of the judgment of the outside world