SOCIAL MEDIA’S PERFECT WORLD
Inputs today are continually showing that ‘perfect’ is the normal. The photo above was staged to create the perfect photo! The room is colour-coded, light airy soft pallet colouring, perfectly clean, everything has a place, and everything is in place. The family are even dressed in complimentary colours tan colour in mum’s t-shirt, tan colour in the lines on dad’s shirt, and the child’s trousers are tan. Having this identical theme colour in the middle of the picture, takes your eyes from left to right across the picture and the identical colour theme enhances the ‘oneness’ in the photo shoot. They probably are not even a family, but each good-looking young people of the perfect weight, used to depict happiness in the clothes and backdrop chosen for them. The child has a few blocks to play with – where are the rest of the toys in the living room? How true is this for a family? Did you buy into this?
Advertisements portray beautiful people, beautiful homes, and happy families. Influences give the impression they live in a ‘perfect world’ portrayed in their clips, and photoshopped photos that they share. On social media we have a platform to express ourselves and we tend to only share those perfect moments and happy shots. Thus, we see the world in a warped version of itself and we start to relate to this as our reality.
Many aspire to this fake world and when we fail to achieve this impossible reality - the perfect body, the perfect partner, the perfect home, the perfect job, and the perfect life, thoughts of failing emerge and low esteem creeps in. To counterbalance this feeling of ‘I am not good enough’ we may start to compare ourselves to others seeking to show they are not good enough too, looking for flaws in them. By pointing out their shortcomings, we don’t have to focus on our own. Additionally, if they are e.g., overweight and we are not, this can be a great way to make ourselves feel superior to try and boast our self-image. However, we have failed to examine, that although we may be slimmer than the other person, we may be a lousy uncaring partner whereas they might be loving and kind to everyone. Judging is usually done in an area we feel good about ourselves in.
If you have grown up in a loving, supportive home, where your parents have ensured you were fed, clothed, and had safety then you are one of the lucky ones in this world! You may have been even more privileged where you have been afforded education at a tertiary level and lived in your parents’ home until you could afford your own home. If you have not been physically, emotionally, or sexually mistreated then you have had a fortunate life. Not all people are that fortunate. Some are the product of an unstable, dysfunctional home base where violence, mental illness and poverty might have been their start to life.
Even if we had had ‘blessed’ lives and operating well, we tend to not want others to outshine us. ‘The Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is alive and well in Australia where we want to pull everyone down to our level if they achieve above our belt weight. As a way of compensating for our own shortcoming or just mediocrities, we poke holes in other people’s successes and applaud if they fall from great heights. We don’t think how brave they were to try and take risks as many of us don’t act or achieve because we fear failure and fear being judged. When these brave people act and achieve why don’t we celebrate their success and applaud their efforts? Surely that’s what we want for all humans – to be successful in their own way.
WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES
When you see someone struggling, you might know the reasons, but often as not, we don’t know what the person is going through and for us to judge anyone it is not our job! There are some people failing in all aspects of their life. We can be quick to judge them as pathetic human beings. We may see them as not having made the effort that we make each day to ensure we are acceptable to our own standard. Yet we don’t know what is going on in that other person’s life. We can really only judge ourselves – we know if we are or are not living up to our own standards and abilities.
When my father-in-law was dangerously ill in hospital the family kept around-the- clock vigil at his bedside. My husband and I often did the night shift and at 3am in the morning I would take a break and go outside the hospital. There on the benches were a couple of homeless men each night. ‘Walk a mile in my shoes’ is such a powerful statement. The full statement includes the words ‘Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes’. In this society we are quick to criticise others who we perceive are less than perfect. Why do we think we have a right to judge any other human being? We don’t know what happened to these men that led them to where they now found themselves.
I remember working with a couple who had a teenage daughter that I taught. On duty as a teacher on a Friday morning, I was in the gardens of the school and caught their daughter with a friend sneaking a cigarette. After the weekend I was told their daughter was dead. It just seemed impossible – there one day on the Friday and gone the next on the Saturday! She had died in a car accident at an intersection where we all would pass to go to the shops. I thought about the young girl every time I went through the traffic lights. When the parents returned to work, I first bumped into the mum. I can remember with tears in my eyes telling her how sorry I was for her lose. I remember blurting out that ‘I don’t know how you get out of bed in the morning’. I had a son and just couldn’t fathom what it must have taken for her to come to work.
Another woman I worked with was a new teacher to the school. She said she was struggling with being over-weight. It would be easy to suggest to her to get into a weight-loss programme and dismiss her as not controlling herself and feel superior as I was slim at the time. As I listened to her and reflected what she was saying back to her, she eventually opened more and more about her despondency and depression to her weight and finally disclosed that her 18-year-old son had suicided the year prior! We never truly know the daily struggles of other people.
In our society today we want to avoid bad things happening to us. When we hear of other people’s tragedies there can be the tendency to say, ‘Oh that wouldn’t happen to me’. We might try to kid ourselves along the lines of, ‘I don’t let my teenagers go anyway unless I’m driving or, I have a great relationship with my teenager, and they are in a good place’. We want to safety proof our lives. It’s an illusion to think you can avoid pain in life and that if only you wrap your family in cotton wool bad things won’t happen. The moment you realise that bad things happen to good people is the moment of awakening and giving up trying to control the world! You can only really control how you respond to what happens to you.
You can take precautions in life and that’s sensible but if it gets to the point where you are no longer ‘living’ then you have missed out on the important lesson ‘that there is dignity in risk’. We can decide not to let our child climb a tree for free they might fall and break their arm but what benefits there are for a child to explore their environment, the sense of achievement, developing determination and resilience, are just some of the outcomes for challenging ourselves. We can keep our children indoors and, on the screens, but what benefits there are for them to play with other children and learn to take responsibility outside the home, learning caring and being involved in community. There could be more dangers that lurk on the screens!
JUDGING STARTS YOUNG
Gaming for children is focussed on competition. In competition someone must lose for another to win. There is little sense of collaboration, of pulling together, it’s more ‘dog eat dog’ mentality in computer games. What is this doing to our children’s emotional development? One hears children saying things like ‘die sucker’ during the game as their character annihilate another character in the game. If our children are taking this mentality into the real world, it is a recipe for judging and treading on others in the pursuit of their own ends. Thus, computer gaming should be limited for children and shouldn’t be a daily learning activity. They need to learn from real life, real experiences and have plenty of time with their parent’s modelling positivity about diversity and inclusion and witnessing their partners compassion and not judging others.
NO PLACE FOR JUDGEMENT IN DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
I hope from reading all the above you have now realised that judgement plays no part in diversity or inclusion and is a roadblock to truly collaborating with others. If only we could be more compassionate instead of judgmental. If we could be more open-minded about what someone else might be going through or where they are coming from, the world would be a better place. How about trying the following as an exercise in ending judgement? This is a step towards compassion and acceptance of the diversity in others and assist in a more inclusive approach to others.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE I challenge you to spend the next week stopping yourself before you cast judgement on another and actively calling out anyone who is judging another. You could even take this challenge to your workplace and home where you agree you are only allowed to say positive things to another, and criticism must only be limited to constructive criticism. It would be interesting for your workplace and family to discuss how the week went and what they felt. If, however, you are not able to have anyone join you in this challenge then you at least can work on yourself - you can be the single catalyst for change in your world.
I leave you with the beautiful and inspirational words from Max Ehrmann (1872-1945), that he wrote on his death bed to his community:
© Extract from Robinanne Lavelle’s ‘Life Sorted in 8 Sessions’ due to be released March 12, 2022
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.