Social Media, Silence, Enlightenment

Stillness.jpg
Stillness

I struggle with social media, as I think is the case for many introverts.

It is hard to balance the idea of connecting to people with the very real exposure that social media forces upon us. I ran into this just the other day when I had someone comment on a post that I “liked.” I did not share this post, but I liked it in passing; an action that was then published on my friends’ newsfeeds, upsetting, I am sure, more than the one person that commented.

Because, as is the case for many, our “friends” list is a mixture of family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, some of which, or many of which, do not share the same ideologies. This is the same in life, but, at least in the Pacific Northwest, rarely do these differences come to a point of contention, because they are not called out on, or addressed.

(an argument for or against that particular tendency can wait for another day)

Social media makes it easy to get offended at these differences.

For me, these flashes of contention make it hard to be on social media and I have, in the past, disabled my facebook account because of the exposure and the intense spotlight that occasionally occurs.

Sometimes it is just good to take a break.

But.

Enter my contemplation on silence.

Social media is the antithesis of silence. It is information and talking and interacting all the time. Even if I am not the one engaged in a conversation or a comment, my interaction is in the way I scroll through the posts and have thoughts on them.

It is not silent.

As such, I have contemplated giving up social media for good. And not only social media, but also severely limiting my online presence in general. I am a news junky. Every morning I read the NY Times and the Washington Post. Every morning. But again, in these times especially, the content is hardly silencing.

I am on word press. Writing. Communicating.

Not silencing.

Yet.

Yet.

There is always a yet, because the purpose of finding silence is to create stillness. The purpose of stillness is to unhook the identity of self in such a way to open up space for contemplation, compassion, and kindness.  The purpose of creating a space for contemplation, compassion, and kindness is to selflessly bring joy to the world.

What better way to bring joy to the world than to use social media?

I am not there.

Studying the concept of bodhicitta, a mind of enlightenment motivated by compassion for sentient beings, encourages me.  It is a brave, beautiful concept that requires a great deal of “rethinking” and adjusting.

What does it mean to be selfishly selfless?

What does it mean to truly have compassion for every sentient being… even those we vehemently disagree with?

And how do we go about making changes that will increase our capacity for compassion?

A first step is understanding that we are responsible for the way we see and interact with the world. I — not my family, friends, or acquaintances — am the reason I am WHO I am, and I am WHERE I am.

I am in control.

Of all of it.

No one else is able to influence me, change me, or manipulate me, unless I allow them to. Including those on social media. In the news. The driver that cuts me off. The family member that seeks to control. The friend who snubs.

How do I react to these things?

How do you react?

That is the secret. The piece of wisdom.

It is all in how we CHOOSE to react.

Pema Chodron says: “we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.”

Back to social media: it is no different. I follow silence down a path towards stillness in an attempt to find enlightenment so that I may be bring joy/light/compassion to living beings.

I can CHOOSE to use social media as a vehicle for my goal towards bringing joy/light/compassion.

Or I can see it as a hindrance.

But it is up to me.

This line of thought, of course, leads in a wandering way towards the entire concept of life.

What do we choose to interact with and why?

Who do we choose to interact with and why?

And in these decisions, where are the obstacles? The hindrances?

How I view social media and an internet presence, and the distraction that it causes, are all hurdles in this chosen path of mine.

How then, do I address them moving forward?

And you, dear readers, what challenges do you face?And how do you CHOOSE to react to them.

Until next time: may you find joy.

The Good Life as Seen on the Shopping Network

f46e8897b13e9519fdd7c00e4154bcdec5c83ea61fd7443ee44c717bac7649d4Back in the day, I would wake up in the middle of the night and meander my sleepy self to the bathroom for a nightly pee. The bathroom was located slightly down the hall from my room and around the corner from the hallway that led to the living room. Inevitably, every time I went for my nightly pee, I would hear the sound of the television from the living room. I never peaked around the corner, but I could always conjure the familiar sight of my step-father asleep with my baby brother on his chest, the shopping network channel displaying a woman with too much makeup trying to sell completely random and wacky stuff.

Only wacky stuff was sold at 2 a.m.

Social networks are kind of like the old shopping networks. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… and that is only naming the ones I am familiar with and not the billions of others…they all have people trying to sell wacky and crazy stuff to others.

It’s a familiar complaint, one I am sure that you, my dear reader, are familiar with as no doubt you have at least one of these accounts. The perfect pictures and posts that are all about the awesome and amazing time a family had on the vacation, effectively leaving out the part about the screaming and terrible scene their kiddos made at the airport that required security.

My particular favorite sell is the super skinny women pretending to eat really terrible food. This giant cookie with the two inches of frosting, oh yes, it is going in my belly. Wrong! It is going within inches of your mouth and not even a morsel of that caloric frosting will dust your perfectly puckered lips.

But. Everyone will think it is going in her belly thereby defying all laws of biology.

Get in me belly.

Hawking the wares. Selling the wacky.

In the day, it was “you would look so fabulous in these huge sapphire earrings, and OMG, they are what price?!”

Now it is more like “OMG, I DO look fabulous in these earrings,” so let me post pictures of myself calculated to show off the earrings and hide the duck neck I am developing as I age…

…and we’ll just ignore the fact these earrings are giving me an infection that requires massive amounts of antibiotics, a drug that I am taking to get rid of the infection but will simultaneously make me more receptive to other infections.

Yay!

In a meandering way, this brings me to my point.

Social networking is the devil. I mean, it’s nice to quickly touch base with old friends, and when I lived far away it was perfect for posting pictures of my son for my family to see; however, it is so filled with the false, the veneer, the mask, that it is just a big pile of horse poo.

I know. I know. This is old news, EVERYONE knows that social networks are horse poo, but I write it in reference to my own current issues.

I felt like a failure even before my old teacher also sent over waves of disappointment about what I had done in my life (see explanation here). After talking with her, I felt like an epic failure. Every time my formerly fat friend runs another race and posts pictures of her wonderful and easy time doing it, I think about my own swollen knees and lament about my race days being over. And then there is an old coworker who is truly changing the world with her high style and her feminist thought and her push to the top. She is wonderful. Inspiring.

She makes me feel like shite.

And I’m a reasonably intelligent person, so I know that what I see is not the entirety of truth. That runner friend probably downs Tylenol and wakes up aching. That chic changer-of-the-world likely questions her decision to not get married and have children, placing her career first. I get that the story is only half of what is posted… but…

It’s the pressure. Do you feel it? Even when you know you shouldn’t? That spark of I am not good enough in *fill in the blank* when looking at your friend’s sites?

I try more or less to stay away from friend’s social sites. I am on Twitter but only to follow celebrities (yes, I am one of those people). All the others, I avoid.

Because, really, it is the same as the shopping network. Back then, I didn’t need those wonderful, better than you can believe deals in my life; and now, I don’t need people’s wonderful, better than you can believe lives either.

Do you?