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Chinese Whispers

I have found it hard at times to know where I fit into this world. I recently turned 50 (I know I don’t look it, but that photo is a few years old), and I grew up in a time when life was much less complicated. I suppose every generation can say that.

I grew up in a time when going to the pub or nightclub with mates would mean a series of telephone calls before leaving home, to arrange a location and time. If you were late or lost them during the night you would have to walk from pub to club (or the local kebab shop) to find them.

If I, or one of my mates, did something stupid or embarrassing, only those that were there would see it. They would laugh and take the piss out of you, tell a few mates and we would move on. It would all blow over pretty quickly and apart from reliving it occasionally with a few stories of the past, laughing at the silly stuff we had done (and surviving it), we never really had to relive it.

If you were embarrassed or wanted solitude, you just had to go home. That was your fortress. No one could touch you there. No one could ridicule you, embarrass you or harass you. That was the safe zone. And with time and some courage, you would go out the next day and face the world again and it was a little less difficult. And each day was easier, until it didn’t matter and eventually, everyone forgot about it (or I or someone else did something stupid).

At various times I do remember being overwhelmed and wanting the world to swallow me up. I thought I would never get over it or live it down. I am sure we all feel like that at some point in our lives, probably dozens of times. But those thoughts and feelings fade with time.

We grow and learn from our mistakes. We become resilient.

But in today’s society things have changed significantly. The youth of today have access to all their friends, their family, their friend’s friends, the world in fact, all with the touch of a smart screen.

Every single person in the world can see your life. People can send photos and share stories about you or someone else. It can be done instantly. It can be sent to thousands of people instantly. And can be done anonymously. Every mistake, every slip, every error in judgement, every minor mishap you make, can be recorded.

We live under a digital microscope.

Everyone knows what you are doing, where you can be located or that you can contacted almost 100% of the time. There is no fortress of solitude where you can hide anymore. They can come into your bedroom, tease, mock and ridicule you there – all digitally of course. It isn’t just a small number of people who know what blunder you made and have gone out told a few of their friends.

Chinese Whispers has gone digital (and viral).

No wonder the youth of today struggle with life. This isn’t the only reason why they may struggle but it is definitely a significant contributing factor. I hope there is an answer for them before it is too late for them. I am just thankful I never had to deal with that additional pressure growing up.

Even in my adult life without the digital pressure there have been times where I have struggled, felt lost and confused. I didn’t know how or what to do. I didn’t know what step I was going to take to get out of the muddled confusion I was in. And it was overwhelming and at times almost deliberating. I am glad I didn’t have the digital Chinese Whispers chiming in as well to add additional pressure.

But I was lucky enough to be able to push through and bit by bit, day by day find a small answer, a tip or just realize that it has passed to the point where I could grow and move on a little more down the path of life.

It is only now at the age of 50 I feel comfortable in my own skin. I can open up about my flaws, my traumas, my past, my mistakes. I can cry in front of others and am comfortable with that. All my cricket family in Pinjarra who were at our last wind up when I announced my retirement and talked about my depression can vouch for that.

And you now what? At this point in my life and care a lot less about what people think of me…and it is very liberating. I have found it takes more strength and courage to be open and your true self than it does to be closed off and hiding that person from the world. I found I connected more with people and they actually respect you more. I found being closed off and hiding is EXHAUSTING.

Being who you want to be and do what you want to do is exhilarating. It gives you a whole new lease on life and you will have energy that you never knew you had.

Chinese Whispers can be fun. It can be powerful. It can be very negative.

But to ensure this world is a better place to live, let’s make everyone’s daily personal struggles easier by ensuring your Chinese Whispers are ALWAYS POSITIVE.

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