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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

Message Calibration

It's about 9pm and Marisa and I settle down to watch an old episode of Would I Lie To You? to have a laugh and wind down before going to bed. The hilariously timorous David Mitchell begins to rant about the incapacitating fear of going blind by glancing in the vague direction of the sun that was instilled in him as a child. The general warning given to children about not staring at the sun is calibrated to the reckless, the renegades and the rule breakers, he tells us. There was never any danger of little David acting so flagrantly even without the warning, but the impact of the message on him was to instil a morbid terror that meant he dared not look above the horizontal for years.

This made me think about what messages I'm putting out in these blogs. Each week I give my own opinion on the state of things or a lesson learned that I feel has added value to my life, after all, "all advice is autobiographical" (Austin Kleon). If someone else can make a small improvement to their own life based on my ramblings, then I'm happy but what about the possibility of doling out bad advice that has a negative impact on someone?

If someone who's really laid back reads a blog stressing the importance of not stressing, am I empowering them to do even less?

By condemning self-criticism am I encouraging some people not to take ownership of a problem they've created?

By sharing my own lows am I making a mockery of someone who suffers worse than I do, isolating them further?

My blogs are calibrated for me and people like me. I have no idea what it's like to be someone who's not me.

I love to learn from anywhere and anyone I can and the most interesting revelations often come from people who aren't like me. I always find something in any book or podcast that I can apply to my own life to hopefully make it that little bit better for myself and the around me. I also find sometimes that the messages others are espousing aren't applicable to me in the slightest.

I guess it comes down to trusting the reader to make their own decisions on which opinions are the right ones for them to listen to and apply. A young David Mitchell may have struggled to see that the warning that you'll go blind if you stare at the sun, but that's not to say that we should stop telling all kids of the dangers.

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