When I hear people talk about their values, I notice that they use a wide variety of words. Honesty, hard work, loyalty, and open-mindedness are all values that people I know strive for. But one value seems to always rise to the top: integrity. It’s a value that is unassailable yet losing ground in modern society. Ironically, some still uphold integrity as a core value while acting against it in all their words and deeds. A lack of integrity is not only accepted but also sought after and celebrated—from behind a veil of denial. I thought it would be interesting to dive in and deconstruct the word, the value, and the way it’s expressed. Before researching the word, I thought about what it means to me. In my mind, it suggests a quality of “honesty plus”—honesty at one’s core.
New people are easy. You meet them, you chat, you get to know each other—there’s no long-term baggage or expectations. There’s also no lingering bad blood or long-term irritants. It’s a fresh canvas and you’re both painting. But as time goes on, you develop a history. Much of that history is likely very good—you wouldn’t stay connected so long if it wasn’t. You may have periods where you don’t see each other that much, but when you do get back together it seems that no time has passed. You pick up right where you left off. You have a true and solid connection with each other, and it’s part of who you are. But there are also elements of the relationship that aren’t ideal. It may be a personality quirk that irritates you (and irritates you more over time). It may be a certain belief or opinion they have that doesn’t jibe with your worldview, and they have to bring it up. It may be some incident in your past that’s hard for you to let go. The relationship is not all wine and roses, but ultimately, no relationship is.
What’s your approach to holiday gift-giving? Many have people they want to (or have to) buy gifts for, and they make a list and go online to find something to buy. Holiday shopping is, for many, a burden—something they just want to get over with. This attitude plays right into the hands of marketers, who post celebrity shopping ideas, gift ideas for specific categories, and sale days, like Black Friday. There are also gift cards, or as Jerry Seinfeld called them, “I don’t give a crap” cards, for when you want to make as little effort as possible. People put the buying first—they walk around a mall or peruse gift sections on websites. They don’t try to get to know the person better or consider what will make them happy—they just check the box on their shopping list. But there is another way—a way that makes enhancing our connections with people the first step, a way to add meaning to what should be an especially meaningful time of year.
How well do you really know people? Is your picture of them true to who they really are?
I have this habit of creating really high expectations for people—especially those who I admire or feel strongly about. I put people up on a pedestal and mentally create an idealized version of them and how they fit into my life. When people don’t meet that ideal, I’m disappointed, but that’s when I start to really get to know them. Some people have lived up to the ideal I have created for them, but not exactly in the way I had envisioned. For some rare people, my ideal becomes a dynamic between us that I continue to pursue. It’s based on the potential I see in them and for their relationship with me and not any commitment or promise they’ve made. Ultimately, these idealized versions of people are my creations and my responsibility. Sometimes, I transfer the disappointment I feel when people don’t live up to this standard I’ve created for them, but I know that isn’t fair. It’s important to be aware of how we perceive people and that our perception is likely not the whole picture.
Social media is bad for society.
Oh, sure, it has resulted in some good outcomes. Families are able to keep in touch more easily and share pictures of their latest adventures. Old friends can reconnect and have a sort of correspondence, when otherwise they might not have. People are able to be creative and share their creations with the world. But people can also group into like-minded factions, feed on each other’s fears and paranoia, and only acknowledge the information that supports their own perspectives. Social media has supported and sustained the divisions that exist in our society. It has so much potential for good, but social media is like any other tool—it’s only as good as the people whose hands wield it.