Brad and she (I don't want to mention her name so please don't judge the "she"), are talking about our business and her business and while I know I should be contributing to the conversation, my mind is wandering. Aimlessly. Wandering. I'm thinking of what a gorgeous day it is, of the amazing location we are visiting, and alright I admit it - of the gnocchi to come! I'm having that really nice "I am listening enough that I could reply, but not enough that you are disturbing my bubbling brook of ideas" moment. You know the one... That is, until the girls at the next table to us ordered their lunch and then proceeded to take 17 selfies. And not just 17 random selfies, they would take one, inspect it, find what I can only assume to be a fatal flaw and re-shoot. There was adjustments to hair, make up, poses and scarves and just like that: I was really sad.
These were just two friends out to lunch who couldn't let the moment go by without having to have the perfect shot to post. ITS LUNCH! And who cares if you have your scarf tied in a less than perfect knot? Clearly they do. It made me so very sad. Why do so many of this younger generation have what can only be described as an obsession (17 photo's people) with trying to be "Influencers". Does 245k followers on Instagram mean that your opinion, your paid opinion that is, has any real influence in the way the world works. If by some remote alignment of planets, zodiacs or random actions you do manage to become the next big social media sensation will that make you happy? Having you entire life in the public eye can't be easy or healthy to your self esteem can it?
How do you juggle attacks on your person, your choices, your family or your friends when you have no basis for those choices. If those choices are for no other purpose than attempting to increase your fame or your bank account how have they helped you develop the confidence and self esteem that you would need to ensure survival in today's digital world.
If you have achieved some amazing sporting acheivement, or musical status or scientific discovery, I''m 100% sure that didn't come at the end of a selfie from lunch. That came at the end (usually) of a ton of hard work, a heap of sacrifice and what I assume was a long and hard accumulation of life skills that gave you the experience to achieve your success. All those lessons that will set you in good stead when some internet troll with nothing better to do attacks you for no other reason that being you. You've worked the late nights, you've taken the failures, you've absorbed the rejections and they have for the most part, resulted in who you are at this moment in time, and who you are is the person who has acheived this success.
If fame is the end result, how can you maintain a level of who you really are if that fame hasn't come at a cost. And why do we want to be famous and not successful? Why is our core self associated with what others think of us and should it be?
I don't have a multitude of real friends, but those who do know me, when asked to use one word to describe me have more than often used Intimidating. I can't tell you how for so long I was so very hurt by that word. I was devastated that my friends found me intimidating. Tears were shed and I never acted the same around some people again. I was so very very hurt and for a while my own self esteem took a bit of a bashing.
But you know what a few yeas later, in the middle of Mauritania, a 99% muslim country, when I refused to be taken for a ride by a local taxi driver and he smiled, came over, shook my hand and said in very halting english that I was a strong woman and that my husband must be very lucky, I knew all of a sudden that them being intimidated by me was their challenge not mine. I've never been anything by an amazing friend to any of those people who used that word, but I realised there, in the middle of the market that knowing what you want and refusing to be talked into or out of it was intimidating to some, but that didn't mean I was intimidating - I just loved myself enough to know who and what I was.
- I am scared for this next generation of youth who might think that famous is successful.
- Who may think that what others think of you is a defining factor in your psyche.
- Who may spend a good chunk of their lives thinking that being happy and working on a farm, or being a teacher is a life less lived.
- I'm scared what this might mean for us a tribe.
- I'm scared that living a great life is being confused with living a famous one.
Your life is what you want it to be and if you surround yourself with people who love you for you and its the life that makes you happy, it doesn't matter if 17 people follow you on Instgram because you know what - they want to know what you are doing and how great your lunch was but I can guarantee you they don't care what your hair looks like.