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  • Early on in every life, a child will look up  and - implicitly - ask the world: Am I OK? Do  

  • I deserve goodwill and sympathy? Am I on track? And, most commonly, the person who first answers  

  • these questions is a parent. Perhaps this  parent happens to be generous and sympathetic,  

  • they are warm and understanding of the challenges  of being alive - in which case the child develops  

  • an easy conscience. In the years to comethey appraise themselves with benignancy,  

  • they don’t continuously have to wonder  whether they have a right to exist.  

  • They are comfortably on their own side. But if the parent is more punitive,  

  • the picture grows darker: approval is always  uncertain, there is a constant fear of being  

  • called arrogant or of being upbraided  for something one hadn’t thought about

  • What’s tricky is that consciences don’t  stay neatly identified with those who  

  • kickstarted them. It’s rare to find an adult who  actively still wonders what their parents think.  

  • But that isn’t to say that we aren’t wondering  about our value in more general terms. It’s  

  • just that we may, without noticing, have taken  the question somewhere else - and very often,  

  • to particularly harsh modern figure  of authority: media and social media

  • To this pitiless arena, the self-doubting person  now directs all their fears of unworthiness  

  • and panicked desire for reassurance. Tosystem set up to reward sadism and malice,  

  • they constantly raise their  phones and implicitly ask:  

  • Do I deserve to exist? Am I OK? Am  I beautiful or respectable enough

  • And, because social media is built on  the troubles of the individual soul,  

  • the verdict is never a reliable yes. One is never  done with cycles of fear and reassurance-seeking.  

  • Every time their spirits sink (which  is often), the self-doubting sufferer  

  • picks up their phone and begs to know  whether they have permission to go on

  • If this might be us, we should grow curious aboutand jealous of, people who are free. They are so  

  • because someone long ago settled the question of  what they were worth and the answer has seemed  

  • solid ever since. Social media is a roar in  the next valley, not a mob in their own mind

  • Learning from these calm souls won’t  just involve deleting a few apps,  

  • we will have to go further upstream, back to the  baby self, whose alarmed enquiries we must quiet  

  • once and for all with ample doses of  soothing, and till-now absent kindness.

Early on in every life, a child will look up  and - implicitly - ask the world: Am I OK? Do  

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B1 US parent reassurance doubting social child exist

Stop Taking Your Fears to Social Media

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    たらこ posted on 2022/03/11
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