by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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…your thoughts and opinions may largely be due to your perspective.
I love this photo, as this image is the perfect synopsis for the times we are living in right now in 2020. We as a society are more connected than any other time in history, and yet we are more divided than ever. Social media claims to be designed to unite us, but the algorithms are designed to keep us engaged with our devices. The best way to accomplish this capture of time and attention is outrage, dissent, and controversy. And now to make things worse, there is plenty of evidence that the platforms decide what they want us to see and hear, and have taken the role of moral police upon themselves. The best way to sell more ad space is to use something like the picture above, have people pick sides, and spend hours verbally battle it out on their platform.
It is amazing to me that people still fall into these traps, but then again, most of us are just trying to get through the week to live a little on the weekends. I personally do not post anything on Facebook any longer, and haven’t for many years now. On a rare occasion I will cruise through looking at photos and other things people I know have posted. But it has become a real shitshow in terms of insight into other people lives. We are stuck doing jobs we don’t necessarily like so we can buy crap we don’t need. We are worried about the opinions of others to the point that we live beyond our means, wrack up credit card debt and keep running on the hedonic treadmill most of our lives. We compare our lives to others to see how we are doing, when in reality the only real comparison is to you last week, not to your neighbors down the street.
Let me say that again:
We compare our lives to others to see how we are doing, when in reality the only real comparison is to you last week, not to your neighbors down the street or someone you’ve never met.
Life is not a contest, it is a journey to be savored, enjoyed, and learned from. The goal is HAPPINESS, not riches. There are plenty of rich people who are not happy, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and Chester Bennington just to name a few, were famous people with seemingly great lives that suffered from mental health issues to the point of each of them committing suicide. Remember, SOCIAL MEDIA is a highlight reel of someone’s life, and in many cases, a fabrication–by design. Perfect example: private jets companies now have security to prevent people from jumping fences to pose next to a jet to pretend they were on one. Posting pictures from a pool party in Vegas when you have $22 in your bank account doesn’t mean you are “winning” in life by any means. In fact, in my opinion, you are losing in several areas, and are too stupid and/or too caught up in your own ego to realize it. This is a recipe for disaster that you are going to have to reconcile in a big way in the not too distant future.
In my opinion, one of the keys to a happy life is to have a good circle of close friends complimented by a wide circle of people you know. This “outer circle’ of people should be as diverse as possible in age, race, culture and experience, and your inner circle should be a microcosm of this as well. THIS IS WHAT MAKES YOU BETTER, more well-rounded, more open to new experiences and thoughts. This is where you learn the most about life; not in school, not in some book, but through direct contact with others. You absorb knowledge through others in conversation and exchange of ideas, not by living in an echo chamber of your own thoughts and ideas. If all of the people you spend time with share the same opinions and ideas, you are stuck and cannot grow. You need to branch out, listen, ask questions and BE OPEN.
If you think that being famous, or worse “Instagram or TikTok famous” and this is the answer to all of your problems, you are dead wrong. There are problems at all economic levels of life, and there are more problems and when everyone knows who you are and you are under the public microscope. Have you seen the TMZ reports following people through the airport asking famous people annoying questions, hoping you will give them a soundbite, or better yet a huge reaction they can sell to the world? Do you really want to be a part of that cycle? Do you not want to be able to go to dinner with friends or walk around outside without having people following you taking pics, asking for autographs, etc.? Seriously, really give that some thought if that is what you are striving for. And keep in mind, if you do actually achieve this level of fame, now voicing your opinion can quickly get you cancelled, and all that you worked for will come crashing down in an instant.
As part of my talks I do at the Universities and to other younger audiences, I am going to start addressing this topic. WE, not I, need to save the world, and the best group to do so is the next generations coming to prominence in the world. We as a group of humans all sharing the same planet need to get back to the ability to have social discourse, civil disagreements, and especially to understand that your point of view I not the only one. Your life experiences don’t make your OPINION any more valid, true, or correct than anyone else in most cases. We are rapidly losing sight of the ability to have friendly conversations with people we disagree with, and learn from one another.
Here is my ask: START SMALL. Don’t dive into the deep end thinking this will make up for lost time and get you to the end result quicker. This doesn’t work with diets and it won’t work with this either. Politics is a tough topic, as polarizing as religion and a few other subjects, so maybe don’t start there. Just have a conversation with someone about something you are aware of that they see differently than you do.
Make these your goals:
1. Listen more than you speak. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk, but really listen
2. Stay calm, a difference of opinion isn’t a personal attack
3. ASSUME this person has one nugget of information that you need. Play detective and               true to find the clues leading up to this treasure.
That’s it…it all starts there. Seems simple, right? It is, but it is not always easy. It takes work to be a good human, but in my opinion, all of us need to try harder at it. If we are going to live lives that have meaning, purpose and happiness, this is a large part of it. Our society has gotten off course, but it is fixable. Nothing is permanent, so these skills must be worked on, applied, and practiced all the time. Everything ebbs and flows as time goes on, but this needs to be addressed quickly to get things back to an equilibrium that all people can live with and benefit from. This current trend needs to be to halted in its tracks ASAP.
I wish you luck in our collective endeavor…

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