Jumping off Bridges and Should I Give Into Peer Pressure
In college, I went on a canoe trip. We got in an old school bus that was no longer fit for hauling children and were taken upstream on Sugar Creek (don’t get excited, this isn’t anything like Willy Wonka – the name is a bit misleading).
About halfway through our paddling journey, we stopped to eat our packed lunches under a bridge for a little shade. Before getting halfway through my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, two groups that were behind us had caught up and docked their boats next to ours.
We watched as our peaceful lunch turned into a party. The other groups had obviously done this trip before and they walked up the hill to the bridge and, that’s right, jumped off. My friends looked at me — knowing I have a hard time passing up on an adventure.
I couldn’t believe it; everyone was jumping off a bridge and I had to decide if I would as well. By now you are sitting at the edge of your seat to find out what I’m going to do. Will I give in to peer pressure? Well, relax… of course I jumped off the bridge!
And here was my logic — follow me for a second: Everyone was jumping off the bridge, and no one was getting hurt. The bridge was clearly low enough and the water deep enough for bridge jumping. Had everyone been jumping off the bridge and getting hurt, or worse, dying, I wouldn’t have jumped off the bridge, and instead, would have gone to get help!! I mean, this is pretty simple logic right?
I think peer pressure has a bad reputation. Peer pressure needs a new public relations person. Just like the Internet, movies, books, and blog posts, peer pressure is neither good nor bad — it is neutral. It all depends on the situation, or the content.
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.” Let’s ignore for a moment that he ended a sentence with a preposition, and focus on the rest of the quote. I don’t know how he came to the number five, but looking back at my life, I have to agree.
When I was in high school or college, I would have denied that this was true. I would have told you that I was unique and independent, and blah, blah, blah… but in reality, the people around me heavily influenced me.
Despite my parents suggesting that I not hang out with Todd (not his real name), I thought I would be a good influence on him. After all, Jesus hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes (I’m not saying Todd was illegally collecting taxes, or that he was a prostitute, but you get my point). But, spoiler alert, I’m not Jesus, and while Jesus was never negatively influenced by His peers, I was. Instead of challenging Todd to be a better man, I ended up at the police station, explaining why I had a stolen CD player in my car.
On the other hand, in college, I often say that I was a victim of “positive peer pressure.” I was volunteering with the youth group and hanging out with people from church and they would pressure me into going to daily Mass or adoration.
So, I challenge you to look at the friends around you. How are they influencing you? What about the books and magazines that you read? What about the websites you visit, movies and TV shows you watch, or music that you consume? We can say these things don’t influence us, but I assure you that it does. [See what I wrote about Facebook]
So, would I give into peer pressure? It depends. I’m trying to surround myself with positive influences. I try to fill my life with people, shows, blogs, books, magazines, twitter follows, and music that will challenge me to be a better person. Would I jump off a bridge if everyone else is? It depends on what happens to everyone else. The hard part is knowing if the influences around me are positive or negative, because I’m not always honest with myself.
Charlie the Unicorn gives into peer pressure and we all know what happens to him: