If you feel insignificant as a single person, know that it's not only common but almost unavoidable.
Every minute, a firehose of data is blasting you, much of it not in your best interest. We rarely think about that because we're so used to it. We may think we're filtering it out, yet a scary amount of this stuff finds its way into our minds, percolating there when we try to form our self-image.
Let's look at the forces that make us feel insignificant and learn how to outsmart them.
We all know about cookies and targeted advertising on the Internet. Every time you visit a site, your computer's address is recorded, and a cookie, or tracker, is put on your machine to see what your interests are.
If you were shopping online for shoes, for example, it's no coincidence that when you visit other web sites, ads for shoes appear. Facebook is famous (or notorious) for collecting data on everything you post so it can sell that info to advertisers. Online data collection companies are building profiles of you all the time.
Instead of the hit-or-miss ads that appear in a newspaper, ads on the Internet home in on your concerns and hobbies. While all this may seem straightforward and harmless, a more insidious practice is also involved: manipulating you.
Sometimes, when you feel insignificant, it's because you believe you don't belong. Advertisers understand this and are quick to capitalize on it. They prey on your insecurities and offer their products as ways to solve your perceived problem.
I say "perceived" because too often, this "problem" is actually created by advertisers in your mind to help sell their product. They need to make you believe you need their product or service, although most times you actually don't. They create the "need" and they create the "solution." Voila! A sale.
But it's not just the Internet. Advertising today is relentless. A few months ago I went to a big box home center, visited the rest room, and found they had taped their advertising fliers above the urinals! I don't know whether they did the same thing in the women's toilet stalls, but I assume they did.
The message in most cultures is inescapable: Single people are not as worthwhile as married people.
I am ashamed to report that this mindset is especially true in evangelical Christian culture and happens in the Catholic Church too. I was a Catholic most of my life and can testify to this from personal experience.
In many churches, singles are treated as an afterthought, although we make up almost half of the population when you include widows, widowers, divorced, and never-wed folks. Churches are constantly holding marriage seminars. How about singles' seminars? And hey, don't let a married minister teach them!
If you listen to Christian radio or watch Christian TV regularly, as I do, you'd think single Christians don't even exist. We're rarely mentioned.
Despite widespread immorality in the United States, marriage is still treated as the ideal. Just notice the news coverage of royal and celebrity weddings. In most ethnic cultures, both men and women are expected to be married by a certain age and are looked on with scorn if they're not.
Take parents who want their adult children to be married so they can have grandchildren, and you toss another demand into the mix.
With these kinds of pressures, I'd be shocked if single people didn't feel insignificant!
One of the disturbing aspects of modern culture is our preoccupation with fame. Our insatiable media takes everybody from Internet "influencers" to serial murderers and turns them into celebrities. Some days it seems as if people are pulling preposterous stunts all over the country trying to get their 15 minutes of fame.
If that were not enough, our culture worships sports figures and actors. Add to them billionaires and entrepreneurs who are also treated like gods.
It's enough to make a normal person feel insignificant.
We always come up short when we compare ourselves to these types.If we feel adequate in one area, we're bound to be deficient in another. Remember that advertisers encourage comparisonitis, and when we see the rich and famous, we imagine, "Maybe I'd be happy if I were like them."
Don't misunderstand me. I am not advocating a passive life where you don't try to accomplish anything because you think it's prideful. We should all have goals and pursue interests that will benefit ourselves and others. But let's keep things in perspective.
Over the door of my office where I'm writing this article just now, I have a small plaque with a quote from Woodrow Kroll, former host of the radio program Back to the Bible:
"You don't have to be famous to be important."
The problem with getting your significance from fame and achievements is these things are temporary. The public is fickle.Today's darling is tomorrow's has-been.
And money? It solves a lot of problems, but it cannot meet your deepest soul-need. If it could, rich people would never go to psychotherapists. Think about that for a moment.
In his landmark book, The Search for Significance, Robert S. McGee details the role Satan plays in getting us entangled in these counterfeit solutions. Satan likes nothing better than to turn us into people pleasers or achievement junkies, knowing full well these paths eventually will lead us to crash and burn.
It took me decades to learn the futility of trying to win the approval of others before I understood it was a futile quest. Take it from somebody who's been down that road. It never works.
No, the only way, and I mean the only possible way to gain a sense of deep, fulfilling, permanent significance is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
People who refuse to turn to him condemn themselves to a lifetime of disappointing searching. You will never be able to fit money, fame or achievements into the God-sized hole in your heart because God created it so only He will fit.
Once you have the saving love and full approval of Jesus, your life takes on a depth you never knew before. You pity people who don't have what you have and want them to know Him too.