Here is how a conversation between three almost-40-year-old dads went this morning over coffee:
“I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like as a teenager with social media…” Dad 1
“Well, at least you don’t have a seven-year-old who knows all the lyrics to every TikTok her older sisters create…” Dad 2
“I mean, my kids have watched TikTok videos, but they haven’t posted any…” Dad 3 (likely in total denial b/c his kids are most definitely creating TikTok videos)
“Dude, I don’t even know what you’re saying, what is TikTok?” Dad 1 (bless his heart, his oldest kid is in Kindergarten)
“It’s basically MTV but not like that…well…” Dad 2 awkwardly describing it, ineffectively.
“Oh man, can you imagine how awkward it will be for them to look back on all these videos later in life…” Dad 1
I’m Dad 2.
With a 7-year-old who runs things on TikTok with her older sisters. And a wife who joins the fun on occasion.
Tangent, but I hate when I get sneak-attacked with a SnapChat ninja pic by one of our teenage daughters. The under the chin, mouth-open, one eye half-closed, while about to reach out my hand and slap her phone look isn’t my most flattering angle.
“You better not send that to your friends…”
One beauty (and frustration) of the world we live in today is that we all have microphones. With a few clicks or swipes, we become our own little media companies and can tell the world anything we want.
We can create MTV-ish videos, goodness I sound old.
We can write words and click publish.
We can start podcasts.
We can self-publish a book.
We can film our entire lives and toss it up on YouTube.
Hell, we can film ourselves playing video games and then have other people watch us PLAY VIDEO GAMES instead of playing the video game themselves. Or heaven forbid, playing outside.
I got to thinking about this voice thing today. In part because of the TikTok conversation.
But more so because if you stop and pay attention for more than two seconds, it’s really alarming how many critical voices surround us.
The critical voice inside my own head.
The critical voice of an unpleasant neighbor.
The critical voice of an upset colleague.
The critical voice of the random guy in front of you in the store.
The critical voice we assume we hear when we’re reading between lots of lines.
Did I mention that critical damn voice between my ears?
The critical voices are relentless. And they’re as plentiful as Justin Bieber or Cardi B videos by pre-teens on TikTok.
Contrast the critical encounters with a different experience I had tonight. A 500-student orchestra from grades 5-12.
I’m far from an orchestra guy.
And frankly, outside of when our daughter was playing and when the Mamma Mia ensemble (is that the right word?) got after it, I was looking at a few emails and a few Nike shoe deals on Sneaker Steal.
But something really cool happens when an orchestra gets ready. Even one full of 5th graders like our daughter.
What seems like a million screeching wires warming up, all of a sudden comes in tune. And then they start playing.
And unless you’re really paying attention (or have way more musical skill than I do), you can’t really tell the difference between the girl in the first chair or the boy in the fifth chair.
You can pick up the nuances of the cello vs. the bass and certainly the bass vs. the violin, but each of the voices complement the next. (By the way, you’re lying if you say you can tell the difference between a violin and a viola unless you studied Musical Theory in college or something.)
Besides a few obvious mess ups, there aren’t too many critical voices. They blend into one, cohesive tone.
Looking across that gym floor, it was such a diverse, beautiful group of kids. Different races, different ethnicities, different ages, different genders, different hair styles (shout out to the bright green hair kiddo), different abilities (maybe if someone who shared my last name practiced at home more….).
Each voice, unique. Each life, a story.
Together, a melody that couldn’t be created individually.
It’s a twisted connection, I know. But give me 5th grade screeching orchestra warm-ups over critical complainer guy/girl any day.
We all have a microphone, we all have a voice. We all have something to say.
What will we put out there for the world to hear?
My bet is you have enough critical voices around you…let’s create an orchestra sound instead.
Or a really cool MTV-ish TikTok.