Expectation

There are those who support the idea that over use of social media piles more pressure on the already high expectations that young people have for themselves.  All those insta-snap-tweet-shares they do; the pouts, the poses and plates of perfect food, all awaiting validation via a thumbs-up, a wink, an emoji-heart.  Surely it’s not good for them?  Surely waiting for a mix of friends, semi-strangers, and persons unknown to endorse your every thought and action is character-eroding, not character building?  But the expectation of having people like what you do can be something one becomes easily hooked on.  Anyway, what am I talking about? Pretending that it’s only the young ones who possess the need to have an upbeat, peer-sanctioned profile on social media?  I blog, so maybe I should line up there beside them, vulnerabilities exposed.  For that expectation to have one’s self-worth bolstered by others applies to us all – whether online or off – and rare is the person who has little or no expectation of what others might think of them.  Except maybe for those unique enlightened beings, that is, or some bearded hermit living up the side of a remote mountain who has no idea that his off-grid lifestyle is eminently post-able and he might get a million likes if only he had access to the internet.

Fast and furious communication is fantastic, but have we spun out of control under the weight of it?  Do we expect too much because of it?  Does it feed a sense of entitlement?  I’m afraid we might all be moving towards living out the line from that Stone Roses song, ‘I wanna be adored.’  I wonder how much thought and consideration goes into the, ‘I like your page, you like mine’, or the ‘I follow you, you follow me’ school of reciprocity.  Those pats on the back where we end up in one big circle saying the same things round and round to each other can begin to feel empty.  Here’s the Sufi Master’s advice:

Zero Circle, Rumi

Be helpless, dumbfounded,

Unable to say yes or no.

Then a stretcher will come from grace.

Helpless and dumbfounded aren’t exactly the top qualities we want to put on our CV, but I think it’s a bit of a relief to be given permission (via the Thirteenth Century) to have no expectations.  And they are out there – the quiet people – those who expect nothing and may well be all the happier for it.  Those for whom it wouldn’t occur to them to value what they do/who they are according to how well known they are for it, how ‘liked’ it is, how much money they earn for it.  It’s hard to strike a balance between not giving a fiddlers about the approval we get and having a natural sense of pleasure when we are applauded for doing well.  But ultimately all this expectation must not become a distraction from being able to appreciate life’s simple delights.  It’s all so complicated.  I’m dumbfounded.

Expect Nothing, by Alice Walker

Expect nothing. Live frugally

On surprise.

become a stranger

To need of pity

Or, if compassion be freely

Given out

Take only enough

Stop short of urge to plead

Then purge away the need.

 

Wish for nothing larger

Than your own small heart

Or greater than a star;

Tame wild disappointment

With caress unmoved and cold

Make of it a parka

For your soul.

 

Discover the reason why

So tiny human midget

Exists at all

So scared unwise

But expect nothing. Live frugally

On surprise.

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