I remember time and again hearing this as a child. “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it?”
Sometimes it came from outside sources, but frequently it was from my own parents. Apparently there was an epidemic of bridge jumpings in their youth and it left a permanent scar on a generation of parents eager to reference it as the ultimate example of peer pressure.
Of course it’s a scare tactic. Of course it’s scary. The visual of jumping off a bridge, no support to grab on to, once your in the air, you are out of control. Plummeting to your doom with all your lemming friends that en mass decided to go bridge jumping that day.
And while it can be a lucrative tactic for awareness in a teenager of how peer pressure can cause us to do harmful things, it doesn’t always stick. Or in fact it has stuck in the opposite way. Bare with me for a moment as I walk through this.
We live in a generation that is afraid of jumping off bridges. We were duly warned have avoided that pitfall, while in fact missing the point of the lesson. Nobody is jumping off bridges anymore. We are all too afraid. We are all too concerned with the results of that jump that nobody does it. And now we follow peer pressure to not jump off the bridge. Everybody is doing it. (or more precisely not doing it)
We live in a culture of fear. Fear traps and enslaves. Fear makes people easy to manipulate. Fear makes people easy to herd. Fear makes people fall prey to peer pressure. The very same thing that our parents were warning us about as teens is now the cultural control mechanism that keeps us all in line. And we’re afraid to do anything different.
Please bare in mind, I’m not asking you to consider jumping off an actual bridge. I’m asking you to address your fear and see if it’s really worth holding onto. I’m asking you to consider that the very thing we were warned about avoiding, peer pressure, is now the same thing that holds you back. I’m asking you to consider no longer being afraid and no longer following the crowd and beginning to trust yourself and think for yourself. I’m asking you to learn how to jump off a metaphorical bridge and follow your instincts instead of someone else’s.
Jumping off a bridge is not easy. Especially when nobody else is doing it. But pause for a minute and ask why we’re so afraid of bridges. The answers might surprise you.