Why do I feel this way? Because I am a realist and have no time for this hogwash. I am sure, as some of these memes are coming from folks whom I admire and love, that people mean well, but I just can't buy it. What people think of you DOES make a difference, especially if you are Black, a person of color, disabled, trans, gay or lesbian, poor, or otherwise marginalized. Since most of the folks posting these memes either don't belong to marginalized groups, or can pass as part of the dominant culture, I'll tell you why it is true that what people think does matter.
The reason that what people think about you matters is that people can make decisions about you and your life that cause emotional pain, physical harm, or even death. This is not an abstract thing; it's not my warped perception. It is the stark truth and silly, cutesy, obnoxious and dangerous memes designed to sooth feelings or make you rely on invisible entities to make it better does nothing to address this.
If you think I'm being negative, unreasonable or downright lying, try talking to people who have been bullied. That old adage, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me is an outright lie. Words hurt. Words kill. You can think positive all you want and you can love yourself with all your might, but after a while, relentless bullying and abuse will take its toll.
If you still think that I don't know what I'm talking about, spend some time talking with a person with a disability who has been denied housing or a job based on their disability, or who has had cruel things said to them before being told they couldn't enter a public place. Tell your cutesy crap to someone stuck in a nursing home solely because of what someone thought of him or her. What people think about you matters when people who think it's better to be dead than disabled are making and pushing legislation and policies that govern your life and decides whether you live or die. It sure as hell matters when a parent who kills a nondisabled child is seen as a monster and a parent who kills a disabled child is seen as a hero, long-suffering, deserving of sympathy, rather than revulsion.
Tell that to the trans woman beaten to within an inch of her life, or the parents, friends and loved ones of trans women murdered every year.
Go ahead, tell that to a gay or lesbian person living in shame that what people think about them doesn't matter when they live in fear of being found out and disowned by their parents, lose custody of their children, get fired from their jobs or excommunicated from their church, temple, mosque, synagogue or other faith community. What people think matters when the penalty for being gay or lesbian in some countries is death!
What people think matters to the fat people shamed, ridiculed and discriminated against every day, even if they do love themselves and have a thick skin.
When you, as a Black person, are seen as a gorilla or an animal by law enforcement and decision makers in your community and are treated accordingly, it's obvious that what people think matters a lot! Trust me, the thousands of Black men, women, and children murdered or abused by police or White vigilantes for walking, sitting or living while Black suffered these horrors precisely because of what someone thought of them, personally or of Black people, in general. Those thoughts caused the person responsible for their death or injury to react in a way that reflected how they felt about the person whom they harmed or killed.
So, stop it, ok? Stop trying to feed people the disingenuous notion that what people think of you doesn't matter and that all you have to do is be positive and happy and depend on the invisible entity that some call god and everything will be ok, because - let's get real, folks - it doesn't work like that. What people think of you can and does affect you, whether you want it to ot not. It's not a matter of "allowing" it, because in many cases, you have no choice. No matter how positive or happy you are, what people think of you can still impact you.
Oh, and, please, folks, stop throwing and blaming everything on god. It's not fair to god and frankly, it's just plain lazy and dependent. Though I often feel powerless and angry, I have no choice but to fight. I take my anger and try to channel it into doing something big and positive, like speaking out against injustice and fighting for disability rights or something so small as trying to be understanding and nonjudgmental towards others. When it gets to be too much, I write. It's my medicine, my therapy, the way I process things. I write the anger away so that I can be an effective activist. It's my way of taking control in a world where often, it seems that I have no control or power.
In closing, what I'm saying is this: Be very mindful and careful of the things and memes that you post and tweet. You may mean well and want to be positive, but sometimes, what you post may have the opposite effect of what you intended, especially if the post or meme implies that a person is less than, or undeserving or bring misfortune upon his or herself if they don't agree with what you've posted. Remember that often what you've posted may seem simple and straightforward to you - if you live by it - wonderful, but understand that for some of us, indeed, most of us, life and our own situations are far more complex than a simple meme. Think before you post because simple memes and adages, though on the face of it may seem positive, often discount many people's lived experiences and can be triggering. Try to understand that what works for you may not work for others. Finally, know beyond a shadow of a dout that words DO hurt and what people think of you DOES matter!