“Beauty isn’t worth thinking about; what’s important is your mind. You don’t want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head.” – Garrison Keillor
Ever stop to think about the emphasis that looks are given in our society? Young people give their appearance more attention than ever. In fact, a lot of them spend hours primping and preparing for their self-directed photoshoot, then take tons of pictures of themselves for social websites.
During the years when they should be cultivating their relationships, their mind, their conversational skills, their education, and so forth, they’re spending the most time finding their most flattering angles and poses. Then, of course, they have to take the pictures to photoshop to make them all the more flattering. When all else fails, make that picture black and white.
Then, it’s to the presses! They publish the pics on their favorite social websites with a pleading “Say something about me!”
Of course they have to caption the picture themselves – which usually brings gems such as, “I’m just so silly.” or “Wow. I look drunk LOL!”
What a LOOK AT ME world!
Ever stop to wonder what the future will be like for the MySpace generation if they don’t start giving their “insides” as much attention as they give their “outsides?” THAT picture isn’t quite as pretty.
If you’re blessed enough to have young people in your life, you know darn well that you can’t just talk to them about this. You have to outsmart them. Fortunately, if you catch them in photoshop, they’ll be so distracted, your odds will be extraordinary.
Your main goal is to get the young person away from the shallow end of the ME pool and coax her or him into deeper waters.
- Talk to her about what she wants to do with her life. Feed her interest, whether or not it’s YOUR first choice or not. Whatever interests her should interest you – buy her books, cut out newspaper articles for her (and of course, read them yourself), talk with her, find websites and television documentaries that focus on her interest, etc. Tell her that you’re proud of her for having goals and aspirations.
- Don’t criticize and condemn. Kids need their parents approval more than anything. Just because your son seems like a cocky little devil doesn’t mean he doesn’t absolutely crave your approval.
- Compliment your daughter or son’s personality and sense of humor. Let them know that they crack you up and that you love their company. Let them know that there is so much more to them than how they look.
- Make your child feel smart. Don’t ridicule and make fun of things they say and do. Whether or not you realize it, this makes them feel dumb. If they feel like they aren’t “smart enough,” they’ll only look for ways to get the approval they crave. If they don’t get attention and approval from you, rest assured they’ll get it somewhere else.
- Show your child the different “needs” in the world. Hand them a copy of “One Can Make a Difference” and challenge them to find a way to make their own difference. Get them away from themselves – for their own good.
Finally, realize that a certain amount of social networking is perfectly normal. Young people (and even not so young people) are having a blast with it. It’s downright invigorating to talk to people from around the country and even around the world. Sharing interests, learning about different cultures, and so forth – great stuff. But, come on, when all you have to offer them is, “My eyes look kind of green in this picture, don’t they? Well, they’re really brown. Deep, dark brown… ” – you’d be better off sitting alone admiring your own eyes.
Wow. What a life well-spent that’d be.
Naturally, we adults aren’t immune to this sort of thing either. We’d do well to follow our own advice, wouldn’t we? When we find ourselves on social sites with the attitude of “Look at me!” or “Listen to me!” – we’d do the world a huge favor if we examined our intent and our motivations. Are they purely selfish, to the tune of simply wanting people to hear us because they happen to have something you want (as in money) or because we want desperately to climb a social ladder and each follower or “convert” represents another step on the ladder?
Or are we genuinely trying to help other people – whether it’s teaching them things we happen to know or motivating and inspiring them to bring out the best in themselves. Everyone has certain gifts and talents – and if you spend your days using yours to help others I’ve got two words for you: You’re cool.
We should all frequently step away from ourselves and see the needs in the world. If we can help anyone or anything, even in the smallest way, wouldn’t it be selfish not to? I have no more interest in Fifty Dollar Jackets Covering Fifty Cent Hearts than I do Fifty Dollar Haircuts on Fifty Cent Heads.