Do you really know your role models?

Have you ever considered the influence other people--real or imagined--have on how you think and how you live?

It's worth thinking about because such individuals easily become our role Blog. Woman. Computer. 1.22models. After that comes trying to measure up to them. What we forget is that most of the time what we see is a carefully staged image.  

We already know that's true with celebrities, but we may not factor that in once we get on social media. Even when we don't it's easy to be drawn in because Facebook and the like now seep into every facet of life. 

How many of us judge ourselves inadequate just because "they" are so perfect?

Real life examples

Because I write about people and life, I pay attention to what people care about. I aim to stay on-track and I'm always looking for raw material.

This plays out in odd ways. When I'm in a public place and can't avoid overhearing conversations I do not try to listen in, but sometimes it's impossible not to overhear what's said. Of course I would not record such interactions with my phone unless the speakers gave their permission to do so. I also avoid shooting photos or videos and never use real names unless given an okay. I do, however, often scribble notes surreptitiously, just so I don't forget.

In most conversations social media eventually creeps in. Here are a few examples, make-believe exchanges based on real life...   

"I love Facebook! Last week I connected with my best friend from high school--haven't seen her since then. She looks terrific! We're getting together next month and I am in a panic. Before then I need to lose 10 pounds and get a total makeover!"  

Or: "The other day I found my boys--who usually specialize in pestering each other--sitting with their arms around each other's shoulders. Faces clean, clothes clean, I couldn't believe it. I grabbed my phone and snapped a bunch of photos. Hope this raises my "likes" count. I know I shouldn't care, but I can't stop myself from keeping track."    

Or: "Isn't Pinterest great? For months I've collected photos of bedrooms. Last week I found the most perfect room for little girls. Now I can relax and just copy every detail for my three-year old."  

It's not just women. Listen to two men having lunch:  

The business suit wearer said, "I'm so tired of reading on LinkedIn about guys I graduated with. You can tell by the cut of their suits that they make way more money than I do. What am I doing wrong?" 

A few minutes later the one in athletic clothes later said, "I'm really tired of reading about guys my age who run marathons and set records. I used to do that, too, but now I have a bad knee. When I read about my old running buddies, well, next to them, I feel like a loser." 

Wanting to measure up to another person is as old as Eden. What's different now is the easy accessibility of social media sites. It seems the one common element among all of them is endless pictures of "perfect" people who seemingly never mess up.

Is that even possible? 

Next time evaluate what you see through this lens: People only post what they want you to see

Those angelic children? Think. Who posts pictures of their kids when they have stomach flu and are in mid-puke? Or shots of their "model" kitchen when they're running behind and that snazzy new sink overflows with dirty dishes?

It seems as if "everybody else" achieves great things. Think. Most people keep quiet about their near-misses. Or how often do you find photos of redecorating or remodeling mess-ups that got abandoned before the "perfect" one that made the cut?   

I'm not implying deliberate intent to deceive, just that human nature usually is self-protective. 

Even in the best of us.

A counselor said, "Too many people spend too much time on social media sites.

"They come into my office and say they're depressed and don't know why. From their talk it becomes clear they look at their lives through a sort of Facebook filter. They come away feeling vaguely dissatisfied with who they are and what they have.

"I try to bring them back to seeing what's real and right in front of them. To appreciating who they are and what they have. That can make a huge difference, all by itself."

For every one of us, our experiences and preferences are unique to us. (God creates us one-of-a-kind, remember?) 

Yet if we dig long enough we begin to see we all wear a "filter" of some kind. That's true whether we're considering our individual values and perspective, even our marriage and our children, whether they are young or adult.  

Some of us disagree. We may pat ourselves on the back and say, "I'm a thinking adult and I make up my own mind. That's it!"

Are you sure?  

Where can we find a truly reliable standard?

For starters, human beings often let us down. Every hero or heroine has clay feet, just as we do. That is to say, every human being is fallible. Imperfect.

Suppose we just accepted that and let go of our angst.

Think how restful it would feel to stop measuring ourselves by anyone, whether they live next-door or show up in any kind of media. 

Then we could give up counting our "likes" on some social media site and just be who we are. Ahhh, doesn't that feel good?

When it comes to finding a stands-the-test-of-time guide for living, how about these?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2  ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17   ESV

For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.   Philippians 4:13  TLB

Can you think of a better place to find reliable role models than in this book that endures through the centuries?  

You'll find peace for your heart, too. 


February 24, 2021


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