The Striking Heron

Keegan Lee, the Director of Wellbeing, symbolizes the importance we tend to put on likes and approvals on social media, and the actual value they carry.

I once wrote a folktale about a beautiful heron that stood on a branch hovering in a pond. Every day, a large group of animals would come and admire his beauty. The sun and moon would illuminate his presence, highlighting every aspect of his beautiful image. But, one day everything changed and the animals didn’t come to stare in awe of him. The sun and moon didn’t shine a spotlight upon him. The heron wondered what was wrong and questioned his self-worth because he wasn’t getting any validation. Then, the heron had a realization that even when there was no one to admire him or value his presence, he was still an incredible work of art with an amazing purpose and great worth. There is a quote that sums up the moral of this folktale perfectly. It says, “a masterpiece is still a masterpiece when the lights are off and the room is empty.” One can also connect this quote to the digital age. The pressure to maintain a perfect image is greater now than it ever has been, and sometimes people get so consumed with getting gratification and attention from social media that they associate that with their self-worth. The number of likes, comments, and notifications a person receives on social media has absolutely nothing to do with their value– yet in this age, where social media is increasingly prominent, people constantly connect these factors to their worth. This leads to poor mental health, feelings of loneliness, and lack of motivation.

One incredible realization that people could obtain is that even when one is not on social media receiving “validation” and when they are not putting anything on display, they are still an incredible masterpiece. In fact, they might even gain more peace of mind because of their acceptance to not constantly post or find ways to receive social gratification.

In the folktale, the animals, the sun, and the moon are equivalent to the likes, comments, and notifications we receive. Once we become accepting of our valuable identity and feel less of a need to post and search for a dopamine increase through social platforms we can live a more fulfilled, enjoyable, stress-free life. It is important to know that self-worth doesn’t come from the likes, comments, and notifications from social media, it comes from an internal state of being that stems from accepting all beautiful aspects of what makes you, you.