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.
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.
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.