by Will Schreiber

“I Exist”

Years ago, Sarah Silverman went on the Howard Stern Show. After chatting about comedy for a while, they started taking listener calls.

One of the callers who made it live onto the air started cussing Sarah out. “Whoa whoa whoa, I’m hanging up” Howard said. Just before the line went dead, the caller blurted out in a crazed stuttering voice, “I exist!”

Sarah’s takeaway was that people have a need to be heard.

But I think it’s more than that. Why are we so obsessed with validating our own existence?

When men catcall women on the street, do they really think it’s going to lead to a date? Or are they looking for an acknowledgement of any kind?

We snap an ungodly amount of selfies each day. We post them online and are thrilled when people double-tap them.

We put pictures of ourselves all around our own houses. Toddlers love mirrors, and adults never rid themselves of those sideways glances into dark windows and mirrors.

We try to make others laugh at our jokes. We like when people look us in the eyes. We hurt others in order to feel pain - to feel something, anything.

I think our obsession with validating our existence means that deep down we know we don’t exist.

Maybe it’s because we’re living in a simulation or maybe because there is no self - as much as we wish there was.