IS THE WORLD TOO DAMN BUSY FOR YOU?
Men's Health US|April 2023
Hello? Hello?! Is anyone there? How to cope with feeling like you're constantly being ignored.
AUSTIN WILLIAMS
IS THE WORLD TOO DAMN BUSY FOR YOU?

IF YOU COMMUNICATE with people throughout the day-basically, if you're human-then you, like me, sometimes find yourself "following up," "circling back," and generally coming to terms with being ignored, especially considering all the other instances in your life in which you might go unheard. (No response to a "let's reconnect" DM to an old friend; crickets when you ask your landlord to renew your lease; no answer from the doctor's office, even three days later; hello, barista?) At a certain point, feeling invisible can begin to take a toll on your mental health.

In fact, Kipling D. Williams, Ph.D., a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University, found that being ignored literally hurts-it triggers the same part of the brain that registers physical pain. Technically, you're experiencing ostracism. You may think of ostracism as the stuff of black sheep and outcasts, but it basically means you're being excluded from group dynamics or otherwise feeling ignored. The person or people ignoring you might not even know they're doing it. They may not have received your message, might have been on vacation, or just haven't had time to respond. "It's hard to know what they were thinking. But it doesn't really matter. From your perspective, you are perceiving that you're ignored and excluded, and it has its effects on you, whether or not it was intended to be that way," Williams says.

That sensation of being invisible feels so bad because it threatens some basic human psychological needs. And it works quickly. In experiments, Williams and his team watched what happened when some people were left out of a virtual ball-tossing game with strangers-about as low-stakes an ostracism scenario as you can imagine. They saw that those people being ignored reported elevated feelings of sadness and anger after just a few minutes.

This story is from the April 2023 edition of Men's Health US.

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This story is from the April 2023 edition of Men's Health US.

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