A social media user shared a video recipe for a bean soup. This post sparked a series of inquiries from other users seeking advice on modifying the recipe without beans. The reason is that they were not fans of beans. The only issue with these requests was that the recipe’s core ingredient was, in fact, beans, which is why it was named “Bean Soup”.
In response to these requests, Sarah Lockwood posted a reply introducing the concept, “What about me effect?” She argued that even when the content does not pertain to an individual’s preferences, some people felt compelled to make it about themselves rather than simply ignoring it. She explained, “When someone sees something that doesn’t really pertain to them, or they can’t fully relate to, they find a way to make it about them – or try to seek out certain accommodations for their very nuanced, personalised situation instead of recognising that maybe they are not the target audience for that thing.”
What drives this behaviour?
Could it be that our social media algorithms are tailoring content to our preferences so we begin thinking that every post we see should relate to us?
Could it be that we live in an individualistic culture where we make everything out to be about ourselves?
Have we placed ourselves in the centre of our universe, motivated by our own preferences and viewpoints?
Could it be, as Psychologist and Social Media expert Maddox said, that we have become solipsistic, believing that we should be the focal point of all discussions and topics?
Could it be that we love ourselves too much, turning us into narcissists?
In Philippians 2:3-5, the Apostle Paul instructs the Church in Philippi, writing, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:”
Paul advises against doing anything out of selfish ambition to impress others or putting oneself above others. He warns against thinking too highly of oneself or being overly preoccupied with oneself, as all these come naturally to everyone. Instead, he emphasises taking the same level of concern one has for oneself and applying it to the interests of others. This approach will enable one to become people-centric rather than self-centric.
A powerful example is Jesus, the Son of God, who chose to be born human, lived on earth, washed disciples’ feet and went to the extent of even enduring a shameful criminal’s death on the cross so that we may live. He died and rose again so that through faith in Him, we could have the power to live like Him.
Here are some practical ways to shift focus from ourselves to others:
Be attentive to how often we use the word “I” in our conversations.
Be sure when reading a post not to ask, “What about me?”
Find ways to uplift and support others, making them look better.
May we remember not everything is about us.