I Don’t Care.

I recently saw an item on Facebook describing how a celebrity felt about a social issue. The post generated hundreds of replies, with just about every comment falling into one of three categories: (1) “I agree”; (2)” I disagree”; (3) “I don’t care how this celebrity feels.”

It’s that last category that caught my attention. I mean, why would people who don’t care feel compelled to take the time to let the world know that they don’t give a rat’s backside about how the celeb felt?

I was reminded of a story a therapist shared with me about a client who was dealing with a variety of anxiety issues. During one session the client told how his best friend betrayed him by sharing information with others that the client had told this friend in confidence.

While telling the story, the client’s eyes began to “well up” with tears. As he wiped his eyes, he suddenly looked at the therapist and said rather defiantly, “I don’t care, though. Screw him.”

The therapist responded, “That’s interesting. You say you don’t care but I guess some part of you cares because a part of you is weeping about possibly losing a friend.”

Could we pose the same response to folks who post on Facebook, “I don’t care what this celebrity thinks”? A response along the lines of, “Well, that’s interesting, but it looks like some part of you cares because some part of you needs to announce your apathy publicly.”

Logically, if you don’t care about something, shouldn’t you just ignore it? How often do you observe habits in others that are different from yours? If you don’t care about their habit, do you make a big deal out of it or just ignore it?

Imagine having a meal with some folks and one of them says to you, “I see that you eat all of one food on your plate before eating another. Of course, I don’t really care about your eating habits. How you eat is up to you.” If that happened to you, would you think that your “critic” might have some insecurities triggered by your eating style? Would you be tempted to say, “If you don’t care, why do you need to bring attention to my eating habits? What’s that all about?”

Here’s the point: When you have a need to announce, “I don’t care,” for all to hear, you are including yourself in that audience. Could it be that the situation has tapped into some unresolved psychological conflict, and you are basically telling yourself, “Avoid it because you don’t care.”

Ah, denial! Truth be told, you do care, and you may be showing a need to deny something inside you that you would prefer not to face because you feel insecure about it.

Sounds crazy, I know, but people have many ways of showing denial. Taking time to bring attention to something but then saying, “You realize I really don’t care,” shows a misaligned disconnect indicating that an event has tapped into an inner conflict.

Of course, saying “I don’t care” can be – and usually is – a frivolous, off-hand comment, especially when you are replying to a question like, “What do you think of that?” You look puzzled and say, “Are you serious? Apparently, you have me confused with someone who gives a damn.”

If, however, you voluntarily offer the “I don’t care” assertion – as in our eating example – it can be a sign of an inner insecurity that may be worth accepting and facing. Be vigilant for the “I don’t care” signal; you might learn something new about yourself or others.

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