Perhaps one of the paradoxical benefits of the internet, in the long term, is shifting the way we think about peer relationships from “opt-out”, which it’s been since pretty much forever, towards “opt-in.”
In an opt-out peer set relationship, we default towards needing to look good in front of people; towards caring what people think, towards being embarrassed about aspects of ourselves, almost automatically – regardless of who the other person is. Not caring about what other people think has to be this deliberate act of bravery that’s hard to do.
But in an opt-in peer set relationship, we only people in as peers and role models selectively and deliberately; not caring about what most people think comes naturally, because it’s on by default.
I’ve personally been struggling with this concept for the last few weeks, and this article really helped set some things in perspective for me.