The author of the article had tried an experiment. For two days he “liked” everything that came on his social network feed. In the first day he already saw radical changes to what was shown there. By the second he had no personal content on his feed, only advertisements and was being inundated with information on topics he didn’t like at all. In the course of reading and working on an iPod that day, the article got lost in the shuffle of catching up on several subjects but the message stayed. We have the power to determine much of what comes our way. There are options to sensor our content.
But our power doesn’t stop with technology. It doesn’t even stop with the manual decision to press that “like” button that sets our preferences or let’s others know we have read what they have written. The words we say in our engagement with others sensors their involvement with us. It says who interacts with us. I know. I have seen it through some who have pulled away because, well, I think they have decided I am one of the negative people because there are things I care about and speak about that they have chosen to censor out of their world. It saddens me but I have to honour that decision because I have made the same choices whether I always feel comfortable with admitting it or not.
What we say matters. If we want to be heard authentically then we need to speak with authenticity. Who hears us, who feels safe speaking to us on social network and in the world around us is set by what we choose to say, how we express ourselves with body and face during our engagements, who we choose to socialize with, even those conversations overheard through association. What we say and do matters. There is a give and take, there is a setting of our social network and expectations based on who we choose to be.
There are no truly positive or negative people. Positive and negative are based on our decisions on what to sanction or not similar to the formulas used to determine our feed via the “like” button. The categories can be based on authentic multidimensional views of people or on the flatter two dimensional wall we choose to erect around what we allow in our world.
In my journey into mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn has been one of the guides through the books I have chosen to read. Presently I am in the midst of his book, Coming to Our Senses. In the introduction he tells of this pivotal interaction at a meditation retreat:
Years ago, a meditation teacher opened an interview with me on a ten-day, almost silent retreat by asking, “How is the world treating you?” I mumbled some response or other to the effect that things were going OK. Then he asked me, “And how are you treating the world?”
I was taken aback. It was the last question I was expecting. It was clear he did not mean it in a general way. He wasn’t making pleasant conversation. He meant right there, that day, in what may have seemed to me at the time like little, even trivial ways. I thought I was more or less leaving “the world” in going on this retreat, but his comments drove home to me that there is no leaving the world, and that how I was relating to it in any and every moment, was important, in fact critical to my ultimate purpose in being there. I realized in that moment that I had a lot to learn about why I was even there in the first place, what meditation was really all about, and underlying it all, what I was really doing with me life.
My blog is not read by many. I don’t choose the topics that create chatter and frequent reposts. I don’t have the network to be go-to posts on any topic. There are times I feel like I should go with the flow of the in topics and attitudes to gain acceptance within some writing groups I have participated in. I have wondered if my voice should just be pulled out of one of the groups if it might be making someone else uncomfortable. But then I stop and think again.
How am I treating the world? If I choose to silence myself on certain issues, I am choosing to be a part of the censorship of some of the very people who need to feel validated within our society. If I do that, I choose to accept the two-dimensional definitions that have become related to the terms positive and negative people in so much social comment today.
If I believe in the wholeness of others, I have to accept the wholeness of myself as one representative of the world. If I believe in the validity of the feelings of others, then I have to accept the validity of my own. If I believe that life matters for others, I have to accept that my life matters, and so does what I write.
If I want to encourage others to use their voices, then like Sarah Bessey and Rachel Held Evans, I need to be willing to address the hard uncomfortable issues that are often silenced or marginalized by much of society. I need to be willing to risk being ostracized by the status quo if I want to be an open door to those who the status quo has ostracized.
We all decide who is on our social feed both on-line and out here in life. It is time that I stop letting others decide what that feed will be. It is time to start living and writing as if this moment matters. Only with authenticity about what that means to me will I find the community in which I belong. The decision will be made by being the kind of person I am meant to be.
I will start with this moment.
* (Thank you to my writing friend who found this link for me.)
I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for 2 Days. Here’s What It Did to Me. by Mat Honan, http://www.wired.com/2014/08/i-liked-everything-i-saw-on-facebook-for-two-days-heres-what-it-did-to-me/