Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Don't Be A Follower In Life By: Karen Pilarski

Follow the leader was a childhood game played by everyone. There is a chosen leader and behind the leader are the followers standing in a line. Everything the leader does, the followers have to mimic it. My older siblings were often the leaders and would tell us to reenact embarrassing motions. It felt increasingly stupid to slap my head or yell "poop." Fortunately, the thrill of that game wore off after awhile.

My step children's mom and I were talking to my stepdaughter about the perils of Facebook. Freshly thirteen she was allowed to create an account. However, lately it was apparent she was blindly liking pages and videos that were not appropriate. The newly minted teen excels in school and in sports. She is kind and has a great sense of humor. Her mom blew me away with what she said next. "You are a leader, do you really want to be a follower?" I was very impressed by her words. It took me back to something I told my sister when she was in high school. My sister was caught doing something irresponsible and I accused her of not being original and being just a follower.

The internet is addictive and intoxicating. News filters through wires faster than breaking news on television. Not only do people have to worry about how people perceive them in reality but now they have a 'social media presence.' I use Facebook and Twitter as networking tools. I re-frame from using vulgar language and mean spirited remarks.

Recently I heard of story while watching "The View." There was an article in The New York Post about a college aged student named Rachael Sacks. She posted a rant about how she felt she was judged on a recent shopping trip. She wrote an essay titled“I’m not going to pretend that I’m poor to be accepted by you." The post went viral and now her icky sentiments are coming back to bite her. Her actual message was drowned by her insensitive verbiage.

She stated in The New York Post article "Maybe I didn’t frame it in the right way because people are missing the point: Which is no one should have to pretend they are what they aren’t." I read her original essay. Sacks seems to feel insecure about how others view her. This is not an unheard of emotion. Everyone feels insecure. She says people have been mean to her throughout her life. However, she doesn't explain the statement and it was bogged down with rude comments.

The reality is she isn't rich. Her father, an infertility doctor is wealthy. Sacks is young and immature. I have heard other college students say dumb things. One day she will grow up and have children of her own. The impulsive essay is going to follow her. The rambling created this nasty opinion of her. I certainly don't agree with her lack of concern for people in worse economic shape. To my surprise many people on social media made snide remarks about her looks. When there is a disagreement is it fair to attack a person's features? That only fuels the fire. Be up in arms about her values and beliefs but don't make degrading remarks about how she looks. Like any social media platform, there are people who blindly follow and repeat the same things.

"Boy Meets World" star Danielle Fishel recently tied the knot over the weekend. Instead of well wishes she was bombarded with hateful comments about her looks and weight. She took to Twitter to defend herself. She tweeted "I hope you'll look at your own miserable lives and learn to stop judging others on their weight and looks. Love and happiness wins again." In the stream of comments there were kind and beautiful words. Yet there were crappy comments calling her ugly and fat.

Powerful it feels for the losers hiding behind the veil of a screen. Their words are dirty and sticky like their keyboards. Perhaps hurling jabs at people helps keep the night alive, yet do they understand the impact? Amusing as it may be to screw with people, words have a habit of becoming like strings of chewed gum. Stringy filthy lines connecting to the mystery writer. The gooey substance like glue sticks to their social media presence. These low life people who follow the leader, well the gum is stretched and they are all caught up in the sticky mess.

Be a follower and go along with the pact or be the leader who rises above the immature and hateful behaviors. If being a follower is the right path, than find a good and trustworthy leader who does great things. The choice is in all of us.