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The Image Quote Trap

Posted by on December 26, 2012

This year, one of the coolest things I’ve added to my life this year is the mental collaboration with a good friend of mine, Andrew.  Aside from the onslaught of daily emails we send one another,  we have been having weekly phone calls to discuss the implications of, “What it means to live a valued life?”

This question alone has taken us from subjects like the danger of unmitigated input from social media, the overarching benefits of independent thought, “neuro-bunk”  (TED talk video below) and how science is misused by marketers to sell snake oil,  the definition of “do no harm”, the consequences of  beauty,  fashion, and celebrity culture, and most importantly… the elusive experience of reality.

There is a quote I read recently that seems to underlie a lot of interesting theories and conversations Andrew and I have had this year.

“Men believe a thing when they behave as though it were true.”

I am pretty sure the quote came from the Eleanor Roosevelt book I recently finished, “You Learn By Living” ; I’ve been reading with a voracious appetite recently so I might be wrong about the source, but either way, its a book worth reading.

The concept this quote slaps me with is the hypocrisy around and within us (myself included).  We say one thing, post an image quote on our Facebook wall, Re-Tweet it, get a tattoo of it, and whisper it aloud before we drift to sleep.  Surely this outword promotion of positive ideas validates our desire to be better people, but does it move us further away from realizing it?

When the sun rises we step into the world and face difficult decisions at every turn that challenge our core beliefs and the platitudes we use as crutches.   We becomes slaves to emotions we refuse to explore, that cause us pain, yet we continue to move forward stride by stride with the drum beating chant of the positivity and self-help soliders that have infected all aspects of our culture.   But when the glow of positive thinking dims, we don’t have to look too far into the past to see how the reality of our lives, more often than not, does not match the quotes we associate with.

It is this gap between reality and perception that we all must be aware of.   Because the hope that underlies these platitudes is definitely a good thing, but when we use them as substitutes for legitimate action, this is where the ball of yarn begins to unravel.  This social pseudo action relieves us of the ugliness that comes with facing reality.  And its the car wreck of reality that stands in the way of us becoming better people and accepting the disparity between our lives and our Instagram philosophies.

If your actions aren’t matching your outward rhetoric then eventually something is going to give.  Because this chasm between who we want to be and who we actually are gets further and further away from us the more we turn our back to it.

Make no mistake, reality will be as painful as you think (if not worse) when you stare it in the face, but that’s where all our answers are.  Nobody ever said life was easy.  It’s surely an incredible adventure if you step into it… but easy, it is not.   Think about it.

Here’s a cool video from Molly Crockett, whom I might very well be in lust with, called Beware Neuro-Bunk. This is an excellent message, and the massive problem Molly addresses is a disease that has infected nearly every aspect of the diet, fitness, and health industry.   And we all believe the “neuro-bunk” of marketers that appeal to our insecurities because usually we don’t want to face the reality which would, in the end,  provide us with all the solutions we’d need.


If you can think of any realities that you have been avoiding, I’d love to hear about them and what sort of changes you plan to make.

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