Blur. Smoke and Mirrors

 

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When I am technologically challenged, my husband kindly reminds me that I can visit the Genius bar at the Apple Store.  I have met my fair share of geniuses in this accommodating mecca of technology and futuristic sophistication. I always come with a, “Why is my computer… (fill in the blanks)?” kind of question.  To which the geniuses in their polo shirts and spritely name tags respond, “May I take a look?” My computer has already been pushed into their lap. Boom. “Here you go!” the genius of the hour exclaims.  

These computer wizards wear many hats.  In fact, as I recently learned, when the Apple store is closed to those of us fumbling around waiting for a genius to explain why our photos seem locked, or why the images in our email signature aren’t showing up, they are open to school kids for field trips!  

I am mesmerized as I watch the kids take in what the tech savvy Apple agent is saying, like it’s nothing.  Like it makes sense to them! “These are intuitive robots. They respond to your actions upon your request, but they also learn to actuate movements and commands without your request, based on your patterned asks from the past.”  Kids are nodding. I don’t want the genius to identify me; the one with monthly computer needs, as a chaperone for our daughter’s class, so I too nod along.

“I am going to have you join me at our workspaces, because we are going to be looking at coding your own virtual reality,” the geniuses continue.  

“What?!” I say, careful not to blurt this question out loud.  The kids seem like they will be icing cakes, or adding chocolate sauce to milk – this kind of language is commonplace to them.  All the 5th grade students are ticking away at their own, pathed video game, not one they are playing, but actually one they are coding and creating as they decide what they want their own “virtual reality” will look like.  

Let’s wrap our heads around that.  

And if you are like me, and struggle with this idea… well, let’s just be OK with understanding it is light years beyond microfiche and Pac-man.  

I am watching my incredibly technologically savvy daughter move through coding like a speed train from Paris to Barcelona.  She has figured out the algorithm and is beyond animated about creating a 3D version of her imaginative environment.

Leaving my old-school judgements aside, I am amazed at how her mind can do this and am so curious about what she is visualizing as she codes forward.  What does her virtual reality look like? And why?

Fast forward to this year.  She is a year older, and word on the black top is that YouTube videos and Instagram are all the rage.  She knows the word “Influencer” and has earmarked her favorite baking chefs and DIY experts on her school iPad.

I have thought about this concept of Influencer for many months now.  How do kids find these Influencers and why are they interested in them?  Is it because their friends do? Is it because the particular Influencer has the most “likes”? Is it because they see Influencer names printed in magazines near the gum racks?  Why do we, as adults “follow” or give virtual high-fives to any Influencers?

So, let me weave these two concepts together;  One, virtual realities and two, Influencers. Now, let me ask… is there much difference?  Are both equal paths to smoke and mirrors?

And if so, how do our kids begin to find positive Influencers in their life.  Who do they look to without Instagram or YouTube? How do we support our kids in creatively endeavoring to new places technologically, without compromising their base reality?

At some point, most likely because of a general state of over-stimulus during the Apple field trip, I looked up what influence means.  

It is: an ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans.  What a glowing definition for such an interesting term!  Here lies the gold, “…from the stars…to affect action.”  The actual definition of influence incites a God-given gift, that is in some way manifested to action.    

Social Influencers can include inspiring artists, authors, incredible athletes or advocates for social change.  They can be heroes, or persons who have overcome immense life challenges.  Influencers can be designers or exquisite video editors.  And the truth is, Influencers can be built over night.  Literally.  

I remember as a child, looking up to various public figures.  I heard their story through a friend or a family member.  I saw their Nobel Peace Prize being awarded on the nightly news.  I read their poetry and was moved.  They were compassionate leaders or brave heroes who used their ethereal fluid to positively impact those around them.  And this made waves.  What then, stands to be so different with this current way to find mentors or heroes around us?

In this current mainstream way of a visual portfolio, the Influencer not only has to “do” something amazing, but they have to make whatever they did for example, climb a mountain, create an exquisite meal, travel the furthest, etc., look enticing aesthetically to others too. Yikes.  In this world of powerful Influencers, so many aspects of the importance of one’s worth is defined by heightened value to what they do.

In modern photography, there is a word used to describe a factor that happens, or is created, in a photo where light creates orbs and these orbs make something look more than they are. This term is called “Bokeh”.  Two syllables that mean “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. Bokeh, essentially means to blur. It is intentional. These images become eye-catching, somewhat out of this world.  They add more to what is already beautiful; the subject itself.  

We blur reality when we tell our kids what they “do” matters most, not who they are.

We blur reality when we track Influencers more than we track our own journeys.

We blur our reality when we place an absorbent amount of time on the bigness of “likes,” “loves” and “comments”.

We blur our reality when we give more attention to the connection to things beyond us, then within us.  

We blur reality when stop looking inward and notice who we are meant to be and what we are meant to stand for.

It is not just what you do, or even how you do it, the real value is being aware of who you are when you are doing it.

We are in a unique point in history, and the lines between reality and fantasy are often blurred.  How do we teach our kids to be Influencers, with their ethereal fluid affecting those around them?  How do we, ourselves, do the same?

It is never what you “do” that breathes life into a new idea. It is who you ARE. And it is never someone else that can influence you enough to be something you are not. You, and you alone, are your most influential Influencer.

SPOTLIGHT:

This image was taken right before I watched a hot air balloon inflate.  There was intense heat blasting into the fabric.  There were lines placed into the inner sails of the balloon and there were ripples of fabric cascading in the direction of sunrise.  I guess I could have used bokeh to enhance this image by adding a few blurred bubbles of light near to the very top of the balloon, where the sun is peeking through.  But I much prefer it as it is: a simple capture of light, color, shape and perceived movement.  No bokeh.  No blur.  No smoke and mirrors.

#ownit #beyourownhero #influencer #parentingforabetterfuture #blur #perspective #smokeandmirrors

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