That term — “competitive retirement” — came up in yesterday’s post after I saw it in a Guardian article on stresses at various times of life. The author of a book on thriving in retirement commented that some of us feel pressure, exerted by other retirees, to be “well retired.” Active. Interested and interesting. Well travelled. Well rounded. That pressure can be stressful at a time of life when when one hopes to reduce stress, and perhaps even more so for people of modest means.
Then I read Seth Godin’s blog post yesterday morning. Titled “Digital Peer Pressure,” it’s about how culture develops these days — fast — because most of us are exposed to so many others through our online connections (social media, email). The “norms of interaction” — social acceptance and rejection of attitudes, ideas, and conventions — arrive constantly. We are tuned in like never before.
I like what Seth said next: that digital peer pressure isn’t all bad or hectic. He says, "Some corners of the internet are getting coarser, crueler and dumber. But others, where the social ratchet turns in the other direction, keep getting better.”
By “the other direction” he means the stuff that inspires us and causes us to listen, learn, and elevate our game a notch or two in response.
"It’s easy to see peer pressure as a bad thing,” writes Seth, "something that only delinquents are subject to. If we let it, though, we can use it to push us forward, to make things better.”
So once again, it’s attitude and choice. You and I have a choice when it comes to how we react to the examples of others. We can feel pressure and resentment. Or we can feel gently pushed in the right direction. Forward.