By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Whoever invented the selfie stick must be a billionaire by now. I recently got back from traveling to Israel for a family wedding and then Greece to spend time with family and friends. It was a great trip. In Greece I spent most of my time in Oia on Santorini. You'd recognize the town from calendar photos even if you don't know the name. The place is stunning with pastel houses nestled into the hillside, overlooking the Mediterranean. Everywhere I went I saw tourists taking selfies like their whole trip revolved around it. Just being in this beautiful place wasn't enough. They wanted to show it off to the folks at home, former co-workers, and old friends they haven't seen since high school.
This desire for external validation and "fame" is all part of what I call the Big Me movement. Big Me is about curating the perception of you on social media. It means playing the role of celebrity and paparazzi. It means broadcasting a very specific side of your life and pretending that the dull moments, disappointments and insecurities don't exist.
We live in the Big Me generation, but we can choose another route instead. I call it the "Under the Radar Route." I love this route. One of the most well-connected and powerful friends I have, taught me a long time ago to come across as the "little guy."
Here are some ideas to play with getting less external validation.
1. Try taking a fun trip without checking-in at the airport or posting any pictures of it. I love exploring new places, even for a weekend. Most of my experiences are not well documented, and those are sometimes the best ones.
2. Help a co-worker, business partner, or loved one with something big, and don't take any credit for it. In fact, give them all the credit.
3. Simplify your life. Less is more. No need to keep up with your neighbors, you only need to keep up with you. When I sold my house and downsized my possessions and the people in my life, I was way happier. I realized I got a lot more out of life once I was surrounded by quality people who taught me things and who I really care about. Also talk less. I talk a lot in a work context, but outside I try and listen more.
4. Cut back on social media. My social media pages suck and that's a good thing. Seriously, they don't represent me at all because I've stopped actively adding to them all the time.
5. Say no to some experiences. If you feel like you are going to some party or event because you have to for someone else, or it'd be good for your reputation...then, umm, don't go every time. Go to the ones that will help you grow and that you will enjoy.
Enjoy the moments you have. Take pictures for nostalgia or to share with loved ones who really do care. Be aware of your motivations. Before you click, ask yourself why you're posting something and what a "like" means to you. If it's too much for other people, try reining in that Big Me mentality and living your life for you.
Have other ideas for putting Big Me in check and weaning ourselves off external validation? I'd love to hear from you.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
Originally published in Jaunty's September 2014 newsletter
"Let's check out that art thing over there with the spinning umbrellas and then go to the Hug Deli."
This was my second year at Burning Man and I know I'll keep going back for more. It's the sense of community I feel out there from 70,000 people coming together to build a temporary city in the desert. It's people's openness, emotional vulnerability and how present we are without the distractions of our phones. And it's the tremendous sense of social freedom I feel on the Playa.
The event has a reputation for being cool and it certainly is. But this is cool without attitude. It's the real cool of people doing whatever they like and following their joy. It's a nonjudgmental cool. If you want to play on the swings in a tutu, that's great. (If you're a dude then that's great too.) If your joy is to walk around naked or in shorts and a t-shirt, or check out workshops on geology or astrology or bondage, that's all cool too.
When I took Jaunty's six-week course last spring, I learned that no one really cares what we do anyway. When we're twisted up in knots with social anxiety, afraid of what other people will think of us, we're the ones doing the twisting.
Over the past few months I had become a bit complacent and stopped pushing myself to do as many cold approaches. Burning Man was the kick in the pants I needed to get my Jaunty on again. On the Playa, I struck up conversations with countless strangers every day. It felt effortless and fun.
Now, back in the "default world," I've cleaned the dust off my things, but I've kept that feeling of social freedom right here at my side. I feel more playful again, interacting with strangers and not worrying what other people think. To me, the Burning Man culture is a breath of fresh air and I feel energized to keep following my joy and building the community I want here in the Bay Area.