What other people think

Yesterday I expressed surprise and disappointment on discovering that some teenage girls photoshop images of themselves before posting them online. In the ensuing Facebook comment thread there were interesting differences of opinion as to whether this was a good or a bad thing, an extension of the habit of wearing makeup, and so on.

My discomfort with this practice was the idea that youngsters should be so concerned what others think of them. Probably an unrealistic concern when it comes to teenagers, the age when comparison with others is at its most intense.

But it relates to a post I wrote a year or so ago called “The risk of becoming conservative” in which I confessed that gaining a larger audience was making me more conservative in what I wrote about, and more likely to moderate the strength of the views that I shared.

Worrying what others think of us is an inevitable human trait. Fear of disapproval is one of the greatest inhibitors when it comes to using social tools at work. That phrase is on my second last slide in my workshops and presentations.

But my last slide is about love. The basic human instinct to reach out and connect, to be part of something worthwhile, to care and make a difference. We need to be brave and willing to feel exposed if we are going to do other than keep our heads down and stay safe.

We need to get better at not worrying what other people think.

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