|Photo from: http://www.spiritualitypostures.blogspot.com
Today I was caught up in my usual daily routine of scanning through my facebook news feed. After witnessing a troubling series of events on facebook, followed by a very full day of simultaneous work and self contemplation, I came to the following conclusion……
I usually write and live a lifestyle on how to be a spiritual warrior in daily life. This means living in full authenticity in every moment. It’s a tall order. I strongly feel that no matter how much yoga/meditation/self-reflection/prayer we do on a daily basis, it really is of no use if we cannot incorporate it into our daily lives. Controversial topics discussed on social media like Facebook tug on strings that have the potential to activate our emotions. Events in our internet life and physical life shed light for us to show the best and worst versions of ourselves. Then all of a sudden it is personal. When it is personal then we create beliefs, strong beliefs. Beliefs aren’t bad necessarily, they just are. However, when we create beliefs we also create division. When we create division we then birth duality within ourselves and others. The mission of many people on most spiritual paths is to master the world of duality. Sometimes we notice these patterns right away and sometimes we fail miserably. I am not excluded from this cycle whatsoever. My question is, how can we stay true to our identity when we so often have these dual identities through social media? I think our personal lives are so intertwined with our lives of the internet, it’s becoming more difficult to decipher when one ends and the other begins.
A Time When Life Was Simple
I recently came across a two part series TED radio (via npr.org) about this same subject matter. The episodes are called, “Screen Time Part 1
” and “Screen Time Part 2
”. After listening to the two hours of content I was quite inspired about what technology has done for us globally and individually. I was excited to think that I am part of a generation that knows what life was like growing up in an age before cell phones and internet. The Oregon Trail, Mario Bros., and Duck Hunt on blurry screens was the closest thing to technology/entertainment. Otherwise my screen time was limited to watching the series of family friendly tv shows called TGIF on the ABC network or Saturday morning cartoons. As an adult, it’s difficult to separate myself from technology and I’m ashamed of it. Generations after me will not be able to conceptualize a life without unlimited access to ipads, cell phones, and internet. After receiving this epiphany, I was also terrified. In one of the episodes a topic on managing our dual lives (of internet and physical form) were presented. Then I realized the power of word is incredible, yet we continuously misuse it and take it for granted, even for those living a spiritual life. The internet is a wonderful tool of expression, yet it gives us a power to express ourselves in a way we normally wouldn’t face to face. We rant and complain, yet share our deepest and most vulnerable experiences of growth through social media like Facebook. Social media in many ways helps us feel accepted and loved in a lonely world. It gives us the connection we desire when we feel disconnected from ourselves or the ones we care for whether we know them intimately or not. If we don’t like what someone says then we simply change our privacy settings.
Would Your Grandmother Want to See Your Next Post?
Not so long ago I was at a crossroads of deciding how I was going to fully merge my spiritual life with my work life via the world of technology. Would I be ok knowing that present and future employers would most likely google my name and find this information easily? Well they did, but I was also completely open and honest about my passions for yoga and healing beforehand. As a result my employers have embraced my gifts and I am actively merging those worlds. This only could happen if I was in alignment with my identity. The same would happen if they saw my facebook posts. The question is would you want your boss, neighbor, grandmother, or child to see all the posts you put on facebook? How often do we unconsciously ‘like’ or share a post without seeing the full content? I think of how so many of our young ones/teens have unlimited access to facebook without supervision. I hate to see a child/teen of any age witness more violence in the world through pictures of rape, war, slavery, and any other form of inhumanity. It’s not a matter of protecting our children or even ourselves from this negative energy, because we see it all the time! If you are sensitive, you probably can feel it as well without even needing to see these images. I’m not saying social media should only be used to post pictures of kittens, unicorns, fairies, and lolly-pops. The darkness of the world needs to be shared, but consciously. However, it needs to be done so with the strength of warrior. Encompassed in that strength is the grace of our word, sensitivity to others, and action without reactivity. It is a fact that not everyone will like what we share on the internet. It is our choice in how we respond, though. As a result we find ourselves in the difficult situation of choosing to tip-toe around what is ok to post on facebook or throwing caution to the wind. On another note, does it even matter?
Finding a Better Way to Shed Light on the Darkness
Pope Francis even declared to Congress the other day the dire need for us to respect our differences and live in unity. So why can’t we start on Facebook? Perhaps we can bless others, no matter how hurtful others are in their response to our rightful expression of our opinions. Often the lack of communication that occurs between one another is a lack of understanding. We get so caught up in proving that our belief is the right one, we fail to recognize the consequences of how it may hurt others. After all, it is just a facebook post. In the end this is a human matter! Social media is becoming an intertwined blessing and curse. Think of the most intimate moment of your life and ask yourself if you would want it to be shared with hundreds/thousands of others? Of course it is everyone’s right to choose that. What if someone had PTSD and saw your post? What if that person is homebound with little personal/physical social support and that trauma got re-activated by seeing your post? Would you actually go out on the streets and support/protest the cause? Are you posting to feel more accepted/heard or can you call/physically meet with a friend instead? These are mere examples of how internet can create connection and separation if we are not more conscious of our dual internet lives. It’s incredibly important to educate the public on the reality of life and controversial subjects. When has it gone too far and how can we as a collective whole be more aware of it, though? Before we submit our next facebook picture or post, let us ask ourselves what is the true intention for the post in the first place.