“Authentic” versus “Cool”

It’s the second time I’ve fallen for it. Someone I know posts something out of character on Facebook. I reply in some non-committal way, although I think the action reported is surprising. Turns out it’s a “joke” and the person who fooled me now wants me to post one of six out-of character replies to fool others.

Seems harmless enough, except it makes me feel vaguely uneasy. Then comesmean-girls-les-miz-2-w352 the private message, “Don’t be a party pooper. Choose one of these six messages and post it on your timeline. Everyone who falls for it has to do the same thing. Don’t break the chain.”

It sounds so. . . junior high. For me, it falls into the crank prank category. I don’t want to play along. I don’t want to fool other people. I don’t want to post something falsely ridiculous about myself on Facebook. But I feel like a party pooper. Straight-laced. Stiff.

So, I consider it. That pull to be included. Such old stuff. And then I realize that I already know my values. And the other person was trying to get me to be in her pool because. . . it was not about me. She didn’t want to be alone in her embarrassment, her being-pointed-at.

It is not in me to make others look foolish. To post something odd, then trick people into showing concern, then tell them they were fooled and should pass it on. It seems hurtful. And in a flash, I know I won’t do it. I suddenly don’t care about being cool or playing along. My authentic self is, in fact, slightly stuffy and formal.

badideabearbloggerPeer pressure, whether goofy in grade school, cruel in middle school, or dumb and dangerous in high school is still peer pressure. And finally, after all these years, I realize that caving in to peer pressure will not make me cool. It will make me feel bad about myself. And authenticity, complete with awkward unsureness, is worth its weight in self-respect.

—Quinn McDonald is OK with being a geek. Because it’s authentic geekiness.

28 thoughts on ““Authentic” versus “Cool”

  1. I just wanted to say this about social media, Facebook in particular. If you have an illness that makes it difficult for you to socialize in person, FB can be a godsend, helping people to at least stay in contact with people. I happen to be in that type of situation. However, I do set limits. Unlike, I think, the majority of FB users I have a small circle of people who are my friends on FB. I’m very choosy, and I’m not afraid to unfriend someone if I feel they do not at that point belong in my life in any capacity, or if they’ve abused their friendship with me. Which actually happened yesterday.

    I don’t play games (time wasters galore), I socialize and post some silly things, especially if they’re art/music related, but it’s not my life. I belong to some FB art groups as well as an Etsy business group that’s very small, and many of us have become actual friends, cheering each other on, as a group, through cancer surgeries, a mystery neurological illness, family tragedies, and celebrations of births, to just name a few.
    It’s a means to an end. I know there are those who feel as if they would not exist without FB. I’m not one of them. It’s a tool, not a craze for me. I use it for my business as well.
    As for other social media platforms, I limit what I use, probably breaking all the “rules” for promoting my art. There is so much conflicting information out there about which are the best for what business, that I have given up trying to do things “right” and am going by instinct. If it works, great, but I refuse to spend the bulk of my time online when I could be making stuff. Or talking to people whether in real life (when I am able to) or online.

    I perfectly understand the objections to social media, especially when it becomes addictive. I share some of them. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, certainly, but as I said, social media is a tool. Like any tool, it can be misused. I use it to make things easier for me and to help me stay in the world. But it’s not my whole life. Art is my real life.

  2. I find the whole Facebook craze to be ridiculous. A friend of mine who has sold a well-known product for years and years is now being pressured by the company to get a FB account, or else! Hearing there are peer-pressure ideas like you described does not surprise me at all. I don’t Tweet, Twitter, Facebook or social media one drop…and amazingly enough my life goes on quite nicely!

  3. Yes, yes, yes! To be out of character you’d need to be mean, vindictive, derisive, tactless or puerile . . . and that ‘joke’ would make you cool? Nah!

    Your take on why she doesn’t want you to refuse could be spot on and I think being an authentic party pooper is far cooler.

  4. It feels good not to be the only one.
    I’m not a FB fan either. I like to keep in touch in a more personal, and private way. Sharing everything about me and my life seems unnatural and unsafe for me and for those that live in it with me.
    Inviting people into my life feels better when I can hear the inflections of voice or read the body language that helps me understand how they feel about what I’m saying. In my world, words are often not even needed to share a moment. I like that.

  5. Way to go, Quinn! Everyone has to authenticate their own feelings and not look to other people for validation, especially on social media streams.

    And by the way, I think you’re one of the coolest and most authentic people I know!

  6. I was never one of the ‘cool’ kids, so yes, over the years I have wanted to be included if I could. It has taken me a very long time to be OK with my odd self. But I do still feel the pull of peer pressure.

  7. I’m so geeky, I am not a FB fan at all and I refuse to pass along chain emails. So far I haven’t had exceptionally bad luck nor have I been damned to hell for it! It appears as if you have a bunch of geeks following you and are in very good company! It is good to be authentic and when all is said and done you feel good about yourself.

  8. I’m pretty much of the same opinion. For me it totally depends on who it is that’s asking. I have a small group of very close FB friends (and yes, you can develop close relationships with online folks you’ve never met) and if they were doing something like that I might join in. BUT it has to be something I’m really amused by. I’ve never been a cool kid. I don’t know how to be. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be. I’m always searching for my authentic self, and I do have trouble with wanting people to like me, but I am doing better at not going with the crowd. Good for you that you were able to break the chain,

  9. I hear you Quinn. I only post my artwork on my timeline now. I don’t re-post anything including the grateful challenge or the ice bucket challenge. It is all I feel comfortable with now after some uncomfortable things happened. FB should not be stressful. If it becomes that way again for me I will delete my account as I have done once before.

  10. Yes! Yes! Yes! Your cogent post hit it exactly! Just the other day I got suckered into one of those stupid threads, and I uneasily refused to pass it on. It was a momentary reaction and soon forgotten. I did not take the time to examine my feelings about it beyond mere annoyance. Even if I had thought about, I doubt I would have such a succinct and well reasoned reaction as yours. Thank you for this post!

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