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‘WHETHER ON social media or in real life, the stakes seem high in convincing the world that our lives are great.’.(Photo by: PXHERE)
Jewish states' citizens' - 'Thorny situations' under review
Dee Corum’s take on the sometimes thorny situations we face here in the Jewish state.
The logistics of exchanging money have gotten easier with modern technology, and it seems to have become more socially acceptable to ask people you know to share their hard-earned cash. With just a few clicks online, a transfer of funds can be completed. Even a beggar outside the Jerusalem Central Bus Station was spotted with a credit card app to circumvent people telling him they had no cash on them.

It feels like not a day goes by where I’m not asked to pay for something I didn’t ask for.

People ask for financial support when running a marathon, they use crowdfunding platforms for donation campaigns that are aimed at benefiting organizations, foundations and private citizens. Projects can range from wanting to open a private school, helping a hospital ward to buy a specific medical device, building a wing of a synagogue, to personal aspirations such as attempting to realize a pricey skydiving dream. Raising money is hard and it takes dipping into other people’s pockets to achieve larger sums. There are weddings, birthday parties and anniversaries where guests are asked to write a check for charity. Even after a recent funeral, attendees were asked to open their hearts and pockets by donating to a cause that was highly esteemed by the departed.

On one hand, it is impressive that being charitable is embraced as a value worthy of sharing. On the other, it can be off-putting and cumbersome to be asked for money at various social settings, even if it is for an objectively good cause. Sometimes, the “resource development” can be toward something vague or questionable, like an expensive hobby or a desire to travel.
Gala fund-raising events have been common in the US for many years and seem to be gaining in popularity here too. Lavish dinners costing hundreds of shekels per person are popping up all over the country. The very job of “fund-raiser” has become more lucrative over the years. People who are able to procure large sums of money are paid large sums of money for that very skill.

It can be less uncomfortable if you’re asking on someone else’s behalf. Most Jerusalem residents have had someone knock on their doors representing one cause or another, asking for tzedaka (charity). By all means, give to your heart’s (and wallet’s) content. “Sharing is caring” – helping others is definitely an admirable value. Just make sure that you’re not pressured into giving too much or too often if the price becomes high.

Great expectations: Curating one’s life for others’ consumption.

‘IT CAN be off-putting and cumbersome to be asked for money in various social settings, even if it is for an objectively good cause.’ (Credit: PXHERE)

It can be difficult and often inauthentic to project and retain an image of things being not simply fine, but fabulous.
Whether on social media or in real life, the stakes seem high in convincing the world that our lives are great. People dedicate a lot of effort and time into framing the most appealing photo or describing a jealousy-inducing event in great detail.
It can be inspirational or aspirational to see others’ achievements and indulgences, but the expectation that things be constantly grand and joyous can be misleading.

The now oft-mocked caption “#blessed” on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook usually accompanies a glorious sunset view from a nearby infinity pool, a tidy family portrait onboard a yacht or a candlelit chef’s dinner at a five-star restaurant. The moments captured did occur, but without real documentation of what happened before or after – the image might be false.

Of course, human beings were long encouraged to put their best foot forward and not air dirty laundry in public. It isn’t surprising that people choose to portray the best version of themselves when they know others are watching. However, with the audience becoming seemingly larger, the pressure to market an illusion can be high.

Perusing a few job advertisements this past week, the use of words like “superstar,” “unicorn” and “ninja” were casually thrown around to describe the desired candidate for the position. One company was looking for someone, who among many other skills, would have: “written and spoken English that make Shakespeare look like an amateur.” Well then. That seems quite attainable and realistic... perhaps in an alternate universe.

The bombastic terminology, photos, phrases and attitudes fostered in today’s culture can lead to disappointment when things or people fall short – which they inevitably will.

The much-publicized suicides of beloved American celebrities Kate Spade, a successful designer, and Anthony Bourdain, a chef and travel documentarian, seemed even more shocking to many when contrasted with how good their lives looked to the outside world. None of us can be represented by periodic snapshots or vignettes. The human condition is complex and nuanced – one can’t gather conclusions based on superficial depictions that are frozen in time.

Things can look good on paper or in photos, but it is best to remind ourselves to take these curated illustrations with a grain of salt and a dash of perspective, since no one’s life is perfect.

Let us be grateful for our daily existence, messy as it might be. Though there is the option of shoving unsightly evidence into a drawer when the camera is out, perhaps as a society we could benefit from a glimpse of the imperfections behind the scenes.
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