Living a Photoshopped Life

What’s the one phrase you never hear in a movie theater anymore?

Hockey Penguin Photoshop

“Wow – how did they do that?”

Years ago, special effects blew our socks off.  We’d see a car drive itself, a skyscraper explode or a jetliner crash, and think, “That didn’t really happen.  But they sure made it look real!”

Not anymore.

Now, with computer generated imagery, we don’t ask how they did it.  We know how they did it.  We’re impressed with the technology, but we’re not amazed any more.

I was presenting a seminar at a major motion picture studio a few years ago.  During lunch, I sat with a young man and asked him what he did.

“I work on the web,” he offered.

I said, “So you’re an internet guy?”

“Nope,” he said.  “I work on the web.  We’re filming the latest Spiderman movie, and I’m in charge of the web that launches from his hand – making it look realistic and natural when it flies out in front of him.”

“How do you do that?” I asked.

“Well, we go up on the roof of the tallest building on the studio lot, and throw a big ball of yarn off the roof over and over.  We videotape it, so we’ve recorded the natural impact of the wind, gravity, stuff like that.  Then we use the computer to turn the yarn into a spider web, and it looks realistic.”

Hockey Penguin PhotoshopThe same thing is true of photographs.  We used to see prints of famous people in compromising situations, and it was proof that it had actually happened.

Now, our first thought is: “So, is that real, or was it just photoshopped to look real?”

Photoshop is great.  When used properly, it’s a computer program that can create something that looks so real, you can’t tell it’s a fake.

But it is.  It looks real, but someone deliberately set out to deceive.

People can be like that.  We know what people want to see, so we might “photoshop” ourselves to meet their expectations.  We change our words and our behavior to project an image that we want people to believe.

We think we’re impressing them.  But nobody is amazed at our lives.  Nobody walks away after conversing with us and says, “Wow – how do they do that?” 

They’ve grown accustomed to a people living photoshopped lives.  They never see real people in real relationships living lives of integrity.  When they see integrity, they assume it’s fake.

What would happen if our lives actually were amazing?

What if we didn’t have to pretend to have integrity, because we actually did?

People would be blown away.

Will Rogers once said, “Live your life in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”

Integrity means that the person you are on the outside matches the person you are on the inside.

It means we don’t live photoshopped lives.

It would be amazing!

Thoughts? Comments?

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  • TyHoad

    Dr.
    Bechtle,

    It has
    been my pleasure to read your stuff over the years.

    I do enjoy your prodding. You make me think a lot and for that I am glad for
    that.

    I read
    your post this morning regarding integrity.

    I don’t
    agree entirely and I hope you’ll gather what I mean and maybe redirect me if I
    missed your premise.

    If a person is dealing
    with sin; it
    is possible their attempts at “covering” aren’t necessarily the
    outward attempt at deception, but perhaps the physical act of obedience while
    they struggle to change what their heart struggles with. Sometimes though, the
    outward appearance is exactly what you mean.

    I submit just because
    a person has integrity doesn’t mean it’s good.

    My friend is convinced
    he’s homosexual. So he acts effeminately and dresses rather oddly.

    When I
    ask him why, he says, “I’m tired of living a lie. I’m going to be who I
    am. Not a hypocrite”

    Under your premise,
    this young man is being genuine and honest outwardly with what he feels
    inwardly — he has integrity because he’s not a hypocrite.

    Some photoshopped
    images out of their context sometimes look as ridiculous as my friend can!

    Ethically speaking, however, Integrity has to prove
    accuracy AS WELL as honesty.

    You stopped short of expressing the real danger of living photoshopped lives (my
    opinion) – that is, accepting them with no context – or relationship.

    If we are to not live such shallow existences, we will not stop asking HOW did
    they do that, and we might also ask of one another WHY, and WHAT was your
    motivation?

    I want so desperately to BE the genuine version of who I
    am to everyone – but the truth is, not everyone will see what I want because they
    won’t always see it in the right context of a person in progress.

    It isn’t always the time or place to show or be the shot
    right out of the camera.

    If so, I have no where to go with my friend except to reply, “Good for you.”
    And I don’t want to do that.

    Respectfully
    yours,

    Ty Hoad

    • Thanks for your input, Ty. I’m sure we could go much deeper in application than I did in the post, because there are so many implications about what integrity really is.

      My focus wasn’t about critiquing others; it was more of a simple reminder to myself about not pretending. If there’s a disconnect between who I am on the inside and how I choose to present myself before others, I want to work on the inside — then the outside can reflect accurately what’s going on inside. It’s easy to pretty myself up for others without doing the hard work inside.

      It reflects the Shakespearian quote you have on your Facebook page: “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.”

      So, yes, there’s a lot of room for discussion. For this one, I wasn’t trying to be too deep . . . !