NEW CASTLE —
Don’t believe me? Just take a ride through the social media strata on any given evening — especially when a big event is going down.
It’s disheartening. It really is.
Everyone’s an expert.
Everyone’s a critic.
Everyone’s a comedian.
We don’t just sling mud. We’re chucking sticks, stones and whatever else we can get our hands on.
We just do.
It was me. I’ll admit it.
I was the viewer who put the “Sound of Music” television special over 18.5 million last Thursday night.
It’s the first time — that I can remember, anyway — I’ve watched the production all the way through.
Go ahead and pull my “man card,” but I tuned in for three reasons:
1) I thought it would be a fun holiday night of viewing for our family. My wife has seen the movie several times and loves it.
2) I was intrigued by the concept of a live performance on TV.
3) I like Carrie Underwood.
And you know what, it WAS a fun night of viewing.
I REALLY enjoyed the live special.
And I STILL like Carrie Underwood.
Yep, I’m THAT viewer, too.
Underwood is not a Broadway actress — she’s a singer by trade. Through determination, talent and hard work, she rose to prominence a few years back by winning her season of “American Idol.”
So, as you might expect, her performance as Maria Von Trapp was absolutely crushed on Twitter throughout the three-hour special. This tweet pretty much sums it up: “Jesus take the role ... from Carrie Underwood.”
News reports this week revealed she even received hate mail at home.
But she had company wearing a target on her back. Last week, Underwood was no different than Mike Tomlin, Sarah Palin, the Ohio State football team or anyone else who dared enter the arena.
Battered. Bruised. Blistered. Torched.
We could argue that the 24-hour cable news channels have turned our society into a raging army of talking heads. To a certain extent, that’s probably true. One of the most dangerous questions you could ask these days is, “What do you think about ...?”
But psychologist Philip Cushman has a theory called “The Empty Self,” which offers another glimpse at human behavior. According to Cushman, the empty self seeks to be made happy by food, entertainment, and other consumer goods.
In his book, “Limitless Life,” Derwin Gray shines a spotlight on the subject.
“People with the empty self are fixed on living their lives through the risks, challenges and adventures of OTHERS,” Gray writes. “The empty self is passive in the sense that he or she would rather do nothing and let life zip right by than to actually participate in life in a meaningful way.”
Have we become a bunch of empty selves? Would we rather just watch than do?
Maybe. If we just watch, make snarky remarks and criticize, we’re never wrong.
That’s pretty appealing to a lot of people.
So, what did Carrie Underwood teach us? What’s our key takeaway?
Don’t just sit there. Do something.
If an amazing opportunity comes knocking on your door, you better answer it. Doesn’t matter how many people you see through the peephole holding signs and heckling. Doesn’t matter how many “experts” are on CNN or ESPN shouting you down.
Enter the arena anyway. Whatever your arena may be.
And if you “fail” in the public’s eye? Fail fast. Fail forward. Learn and grow and jump in again.
Author and speaker Brené Brown says there is freedom and power in vulnerability.
“It’s not about winning or losing,” she says. “It’s about showing up and being seen.”
After all, it’s YOUR opportunity, not theirs. It’s YOUR career, not theirs. It’s YOUR joy being fulfilled in the DOING, not in the results — good or bad.
No matter what criticism may come your way, just go ahead and do it. But make sure you answer these three questions beforehand:
•Does someone in authority believe I am capable for this role?
•Do I really feel called to do this?
•Am I prepared for the task at hand?
If you answer yes to all three, jump in with both feet.
It’s what you were created to do. Right now. For such a time as this.
Here’s what Underwood tweeted after the performance last week.
“Glory to God tonight. I couldn’t be more proud. What a tough thing to pull off and we did it! I am so blessed!!!”
And so were we, Carrie.
You keep climbing every mountain, young lady.
If we can manage to put our smartphones and laptops down, you might even inspire us to do the same.