Long before Donald Trump introduced the term ‘fake news’ into our collective vocabulary, the internet was no stranger to shining a spotlight on just one part of the story and letting the rest of the world explode under the pressure to choose sides. Several years ago, #Dressgate captured the attention of our friends and our celebrities alike, as social media platforms went wild debating the colour of a dress. Faced with overwhelming obstacles in our search for objective truth, it’s possible that we found comfort in being able to confidently describe what we witnessed with our own eyes.
Of course, as with any internet sensation there will always be those that turn up their noses and scoff. Who really cares about a picture of a dress taken in 1997 anyway?
Turns out, an awful lot of people.
To understand we need to take a closer look at why things go viral in the first place and what it says about our society as a whole. It’s our intuitive inclination for self reflection combined with an undeniable need for social connection that encourages us to click share, despite society’s slow slide towards isolation. Add a few emotional triggers to capture the attention of your audience and you’ve got yourself a trending tweet that for a moment breaks down our many differences by tricking us into working toward a common goal.
Optical illusions play nicely into that winning formula . We are shocked by the cracks in the concrete foundation of what we thought we knew and are looking to share our experiences in order to validate our perceptions and find our tribe.
Now how does all of this tie in to a blog about failure? Well, it turns out, that too might be nothing but an illusion.
As a person who suffers from anxiety and depression I can assure you that when I find myself trapped and hopeless I don’t just feel these things…I AM these things. It’s hard to describe to someone that hasn’t experienced it, but just know that I believe my version of reality because I’m living it. I see it every time I look in the mirror. I feel it as soon as I wake up in the morning and I hear it repeating in my brain like some sort of infernal mantra as I try to fall asleep at night.
Now right in the middle of one of these cycles, a co-worker decided to start a new tradition on her timeline called Saturday Shout Outs. She took a few moments of her day to write a tribute to a ‘beautiful’ friend with a ‘soul-on-fire smile’ who ‘goes out of her way daily to help the world around her’. The person that she was describing was the same person who had spent the past few days struggling to find her value and the exact same person who is writing to you now. Reinforcements arrived, right when they were needed, because this inspiring individual took the time to reach out, without any personal benefit, and suggest that maybe there was another way to view the picture of myself that I had painted.
While her passionate enthusiasm for life might have exaggerated the facts a little, I can tell you, it completely changed the direction of my day and motivated this message that I want to share with all of you.
If you are lost and you have decided in the pitch black of depression to give up, I want you to pay attention. If you are disoriented in a maze of anxiety and certain that there is no way out, you need to listen. I have turned a situation around in my brain and come up with the same solution every single time only to realize later that I was completely wrong. I have tossed a room in order to find something I’ve misplaced just to have someone else stop in and see it, right where I left it, in plain view. I’ve watched the ballerina spin in endless circles without any doubt in my mind about the direction she was going.
Which is why I know, without a doubt, that our brains lie to us.
You can call it fake news, or you can call it an trick, but despite our agnosticism and our skepticism, sometimes all it takes is for someone to offer you a different outlook in order to completely change the way you see the world. In fact, an adjusted perspective has the ability to alter our lives forever because more often than not, once you finally see it, you can never unsee it. Of course there will always be situations, when no matter how many times a person points out the irrefutable, we are only able to see our interpretation of the information, but we must still never forget that sometimes our truth isn’t the whole truth.
So go find your tribe. Talk with them, compare stories and let them know what you’re thinking, even (or maybe especially) if what you’re thinking sounds a little crazy. If you’re still searching, why not stop by camp Cractpot and say hello. If my face is to the sun, I’ll try to reflect the light to guide you towards level ground but if I’ve slipped back down into the shadows, just reach for my hand because at least we won’t be alone in the dark.
Now, let’s sum this up with something we can all agree on.
This is an easy one… right???
Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered~ José Saramago