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Chronic Over-Correctors (Thoughts on Going Viral)

We humans are chronic over-correctors.  Recent circumstances have brought this tendency of ours to the top of my mind again.  But first, a few thoughts on going viral:

1. There are some really skillful, talented cussers out there.  To the lady woman who called me a self-involved, half-witted !@%^$#   *@%$#%  @$&***^%, bravo.  That’s a new one.

2. People can bring Hitler into any conversation.  Even conversations about teenage girls and motherhood.  This is a direct quote (which I deleted) from an old post: “Hitler was breast fed.”  Really?!  Okay moms, everybody just BE COOL.  We’re all on the same team.

3. Sorry Twitter and Google, but Facebook rules the internet.  For 5 days straight the Teenage Girl post was getting 2.5 views per second, averaging 200,000 views a day, and at least 95% of them came from Facebook.

4. It doesn’t matter how many people read your blog, your kids still don’t take care of themselves.  C’mon guys, Mom has writing to do.  It’s like they’re 4 years old or something. Wait…

5. I am committed to staying on the side of the creators, not the critics. (Read this.  And this.)

6. Advice and opinions are cyclical, which brings me back to the over-correctors thing:

C.S. Lewis used to say that for every current book you read, you should read a really old book.

He listed a lot of great reasons, but his point that I can’t shake this morning is this: people are far too quick to develop chronological prejudices.  As in, “It’s newer, therefore it is more relevant.  The way we do things now is better, smarter, and more efficient than the way our parents (and grandparents) did things.”

I think about this a lot at church when I hear things like “This is not your grandparents church.”  ”We aren’t afraid to be authentic, real, raw.”  ”We believe in engaging the culture.” “We hate hypocrisy.”  ”We believe in community and doing life together.”

As if our generation invented authenticity.  Like all the Christians who came before us for hundreds of years loved hypocrisy and judgement and nobody before us ever thought of using the New Testament church as a model.

When you take a step back the pattern is obvious.

And it has been painfully obvious in the 1,000+ comments on the “Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls” post.  I’ll use point #8 (Your reputation matters, and you should care what other people think about you) to illustrate what I’m getting at.

A couple generations ago, this hardly needed to be said – it was obvious.  People lived in smaller, more rural communities.  The internet didn’t exist.  Your word was your bond.  You shook on it.  People got married younger.

But people, when left to their own devices, tend to go too far.  People went from building a good name within a community (wise) to finding their worth in what others thought of them (damaging).  And everything got all messed up.

  • People became chronic people-pleasers.
  • People were afraid to say “no.”
  • People felt overwhelming pressure to conform.
  • People put as much stock in a stranger’s opinion of them as they did in what they knew to be true of themselves.
  • Criticism felt like a personal attack.
  • People lived as slaves to the opinions of others.

So we over-corrected – again.  The next generation of people held high the banner of “It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks about me!”  Which is freeing and healthy – to a point.  Not caring what other people think is great in terms of determining your value and worth, in terms of being creative, in terms of doing what’s right even if it’s not popular, and standing up for what you believe in.  But in our zeal we took it too far, and everything got all messed up again.

  • People sacrificed relationships with parents (and friends) because they didn’t care what their parents (and friends) thought.
  • People became hardened to advice (and often common sense) because they “didn’t care what anyone thought about them.”
  • People jeopardized their futures because they were too self-involved in the present.
  • People started to uncensor themselves, voicing rude or gossipy remarks under the guise of “I don’t care what anyone thinks; I’m just telling the truth.”
  • People became selfish.  They made their own opinions the standard.  ”It only matters what I think.”

Because adolescence is a time when kids are testing boundaries and discovering themselves, teenagers are especially susceptible to the lure of “I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me.”  I hear teenagers saying this stuff all the time:

 ”I’m going to get this face tattoo and if my boss has a problem with it, then she’s shallow and cares too much about appearances.”

“If Suzy thinks I’m too snobby then she doesn’t have to be hang out with me anymore, nobody’s forcing her.  I know I’m a nice person and that’s what matters.”

“I’m going to take the job at Hooters even though my parents don’t want me to.  I don’t care what anyone thinks about me; I need a job.”

That kind of reasoning is short-sighted, self-centered, and immature.  I love what Dr. Ted Roberts says about maturity.  He wrote, “Maturity is not a vague philosophical concept, but a trained ability to meet the demands of reality.”

Yes.

  • Not getting a face tattoo isn’t being a conformist, it’s being mature.  Meeting the demands of reality.
  • Caring what Suzy thinks (in order to reconcile a friendship) isn’t weak, it’s mature.
  • Being nice to someone that you don’t like isn’t hypocritical, it’s mature.
  • Keeping your mouth shut isn’t cowardly, it’s mature.
  • Listening to your parents advice and preserving your reputation isn’t letting other people control you, it’s mature.

I have no doubt that people will take the advice “Your reputation matters; you should care what others think of you” too far.  They’ll swing wide like so many generations before them and run themselves ragged, thread-bare, trying to get everybody to like them.  They’ll make themselves crazy thinking about it, and that will be a tragedy.

We’re over-correctors.  We are kids on a balance beam, trying to get to the other side of life uninjured and unembarrassed.  We wobble one way, then the other, trying to find a balance that’s sustainable – a way of living that will get us from one side to the other without all the violent back-and-forth.

I think the balance is grace.
Grace for ourselves, grace for others.
There is no other way.

  • Yourstruly1216

    I absolutely agree and have tried to explain this to my 2 teenage sisters. Unthinkable respect from others is direct reflection of the respect u have for urself. I love ur posts!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500610610 Aimee Steckowski

    i want to be mature!! excellent post kate. thankful for your words tonight… a very good reminder of what i SHOULD be & what i should choose to walk away from.

  • Alex Hubert

    Wonderful post. Strange, I was just explaining this exact thing to a friend of mine the other day. I think it’s important to shoot for a happy medium between “I care what EVERYONE thinks” and “I don’t care what ANYONE thinks”. Either polar end isn’t healthy.

  • Zzrrnkty

    Excellent!! Once again!

  • Kilikina

    Sweetie, when will you be old enough to run for President?

  • http://twitter.com/RebeccaRejoices Rebecca Barth

    The balance is grace.  And, as a side note, for every nasty comment/email you had to put up with from your other post, know that there were thousands who were thanking you silently.

    I can’t wait until you post again.

  • A 20 something mum

    People get especially cocky over the internet so some will have posted things they wouldn’t dare say to your  (or anybody elses) face. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that’s what makes life fresh is all the different outlooks and beliefs people have, but I shake my head in disbelief at the ones that think they need to shove THEIR opinion down everyone else throats and pressure them to doing what THEY want. I love your blog and the comments and suggestions you make are great considering the social turmoil we have at the moment, particularly in the west. Keep it up! =)

  • Angela

    Well said!

  • Adele

    Your posts are consistently funny, original,  insightful, profound and AWESOME!

  • Amy

    I am so happy to be part of reading your posts. Brilliant yet gracefully written. Made me think. Thanks

  • W Anabelle

    I’m a teenager and I often hear myself saying some of these things! Maybe not the same names, haha.

    Great blog!

  • TeriMac10

    Thank You.

  • Andrea Wood

    I just love when you write like this. You are so inspiring Kate and write so beautifully. Agree with your post 100%. If anyone can go viral and handle it gracefully its you.

    • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

      Thank you, Drea!  What an encourager you are! 

  • Katie

    BRILLIANT.

  • Rhea McLain

    I definitely enjoyed this post. I have been thinking about this for a while. As you look back through history you can see it very clearly; for example, The Enlightenment was all logic and reason but that led into the Romantic period which was the exact opposite. More recently, there is Modernism and then Postmodernism as each generation tries to over-correct what they see as faults in their parents’ generation. Thank you so much for putting this idea into words.

    (I discovered your blog through Facebook when someone posted the teenage girls article and have since added you to my Google reader.)

    • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

      Rhea, exactly!  ”There is nothing new under the sun.”  Thanks for reading! :)

  • Heather

    Way to make 25-2 Proud ;) You are one blessed writer Kate! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/RebekahJean Rebekah Jean Kimminau

    You spoke wonderfully every thought that has been swirling around in my mind since I started reading the comments on your Teenage girl post few days ago. And I think all of this needs to be said… loud and clear, especially to the teenage generation. Thanks :)

  • joyce-courtney

    Love you!  Love this.  :-)

  • LRC97

    You expressed what I feel and cannot put into words. I wish my 17 yr old know-it-all daughter could read and UNDERSTAND this. 

  • Catherine

    Galileo’s pendulum equation was my first thought – I learned this from my mother, a very wise woman.
    Fiddler on the Roof was my second thought, balance while making beautiful music – I learned this from my father, a very wise man.

    I loved the last 2 paragraphs of this post! splendid

  • Kim

    I hate that the comments you got from your post to teenage girls became painful! Personally, I printed it out to give my daughter when she’s older (she’s now three). Thank you for sharing your thoughts and trying to make the world a little better!

  • Cananole

    Very smart and poignant. …which is why I can extend grace to you for your baseball prejudices …;)

    I’ve said we are so inclined to radical pendulum swings, often at whiplash -inducing speeds.

    …we beheld his glory…full of grace and truth… You can’t have one without the other. Your writing strives for both. Thank you.

  • Rebecca

    I am currently 7 mo pregnant with my first child…a daughter.  I printed that original “teenage daughter” post and have stuck it in her baby book for later use ;)
    Bravo… I love your posts  

  • Carrie

    I was introduced to your blog through your teenage girls post that was all over FB. I love what you have to say! You put clearly into words what jumbles around in my head. What a gift to be able to put words to thought. There’s another phrase out there I feel like we’ve swung too far on the pendulum on and that’s “no regrets.” I get living life to the fullest and not dwelling on past failures but I feel like we’ve taken that to the point of not being remorseful for hurts committed to others because we’re living life with “no regrets” or just the plain fact of not looking to our past and learning from it. There are many things I regret from my past. I hurt people and I wish I didn’t…anyway here’s where my thoughts get all jumbled and I must stop writing or you will stop reading. Appreciate your wisdom and wit:)

  • Jaime Steele

    I like the way you think…and write. The end. 

  • http://www.honeysuckleblog.blogspot.com shelby@honeysuckle

    Well said, Kate. I agree, I think the balance is grace.

  • Knittedgalaxy

    I. flippin’. LOVE. your. writing! You seem to know exactly how to express every feeling I’ve ever had. I’m not so good at words, but you….you nail it! How do you do it?

    I found your blog through Pintrest and the Teenage Girl post. I started reading deeper(I’m a historian and love to be nosey), you have be come a daily visit. Every day you post something that is inspirational to me as a Christian and a woman(who someday wants to be a mom).

    Simply put….

    Thank you and God Bless you and your family!

  • christie

    This is really good, Kate

  • Dashaffe02

    Like so many others, I was introduced to you through the Teenage Girls post.  I now have to stop myself from sharing EVERYTHING you post to my Facebook!  Thanks for putting into words some things I’ve been thinking and for making me think about a lot of things I hadn’t considered before! 

  • Mike

    Hi Kate, I loved ‘the post’, and the boys one, and this one too. Thought you might find this funny considering the Hitler reference:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

    Keep writing!

    • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

      Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious!  And so true.  

  • Robin Kelley

    Kate, as one woman to another, I want to commend you for staying true to the message God has given you despite all the criticism you have received.  As one mother to another, I want to thank you for sharing these timely words of wisdom so eloquently.  As one writer to another I want to encourage you to continue to focus on God and His grace and wisdom for your future.  I, for one, look forward to seeing how God uses you, your writing, and your blog in the future.    

  • Kate

    Bravo! You are a stand up gal. I have appreciated your grace and maturity through the entire teenage girls comment debacle.  It is pretty, darn ridiculous what people will write in their comments. Hiding behind a computer screen gives people alot of false confidence to say whatever they want.

    Way to go!

  • http://twitter.com/smhutchins S.M. Hutchins

    Amazing post.  It seems like everyone is afraid of conforming.  Haven’t we all had statements like those you mention in this post?  Hopefully as my teenager continues to grow he will learn the difference between conformity and maturity.