I've been on a social media diet.
After the last school shooting I was having a hard time functioning. I became angry and hopeless and brokenhearted. I made myself watch the videos over and over. The ones where you could hear the shooting and feel the terror and see the blood and body on the floor. I knew it wasn't the healthiest choice, but it was important to me that I really sink my spirit into the terror those children felt. After such a tragedy, no-one should be able to simply go on with their lives. I needed to honor the victims by feeling the worst of it. After all, these are our own children, forsaken by all of us.
My heartbreak originated with the loss of innocent lives and the horrific experience that the teenagers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High have had to bear. However, it was the social media aftermath that ultimately crushed my soul. Nonsensical conspiracy theories and memes were shared by grown adults that pointed blame at the teenagers themselves, as a misguided generation. Memes which compared the serious issue of responsible gun laws to the stupidity of teenagers and the tide pod challenge (which was a ridiculous internet dare to intentionally consume poisonous tide pods). Grown adults who shared viral videos accusing the teenage victims of the shooting as being actors. Grown adults who were quick to jump at the chance to defend their right to bear arms over the basic rights of our children and their safety. All of this, immediately after such a catastrophe, while parents were burying their dead children.
This has become the social atmosphere of our country. Reprehensible renegades breaking ground on crazy town. Traitors of hope and common sense. Deserters of the children.
It's not just the gun issue. It's every issue. No matter which side of the political fence you stand, you'll find adults being careless and irresponsible with their voices within any social media platform. You will of course also find reasonable and mature grownups who are appalled at such disgrace, yet they may find themselves sucked into the madness with recrimination.
"Please be responsible for the energy you bring into this space."
This is a well known quote from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. She was a 37-year-old, Harvard-educated brain scientist who suffered a massive stroke in the left part of her brain. She couldn't speak or remember her own mother, but when doctors and nurses walked into her room, she knew from the right brain who was on her side. She could feel their energy.
In the modern online world, indiscriminate bravado reigns because there are no immediate ramifications or physical consequences to insensitivity and ignorance. This is because we aren't looking into a person's eyes or physically standing before their hearts, feeling the connection of humanity. There is a foolhardy sense of protection with this invisible barrier and it's destroying our sense of good manners and civility.
A collective energy crisis of its own sort, and we are feeling it very deeply.
How are you representing yourself online? Are most of your posts generated with anger and negativity? I promise you. We can feel it. Is your online language in line with your real life values? If you want people to value what you have to say, then respect yourself and others enough to think your communication through and take responsibility for the words you use and the energy that fuels them.
For example, if I see the use of the word "libtard" or "snowflake" in a post, I am going to immediately discredit it. If I see someone who is trying to make an argument, yet it's camouflaged behind the harsh superficial criticism of a politicians' appearance, I am not going to regard your opinion very highly even if I may agree with your point. When you post conspiracy theory bullshit in the face of tragedy, you lose credibility. You are not posting responsibly. In fact, you are being part of the problem rather than the solution.
When you choose to be contrary simply for the sake of inciting an emotional response, you are a troll, not an activist.
Before you post that snarky meme that may very well be true and may very well support your cause, but it's rude and inflammatory and disrespectful, think twice. Does it help? What is the energy behind the message?
I proudly stand as a full fledged liberal. But please hear me. I am not only talking about Trumpites and Fox News junkies when I criticize here. I am speaking of the full spectrum of liberals and conservatives alike. No matter what party you align with, there are those who are more interested in fighting about the issues than they are truly interested in the issues themselves. We see you. Your motives are transparent. The energy you choose gives you away.
There is a passage that is near and dear to me that I learned when I pledged my college sorority. I'm reminded of its significance during these harsh disparaging times where everyone has a soapbox but not everyone has honor. I'm not quite sure of its origins, but I am sure of its message.
Three Gates of Gold
A tale to you someone has told
About another, make it pass,
Before you speak, three gates of gold;
These narrow gates. First, “Is it true?”
Then, “Is it needful?” In your mind
Give truthful answer. And the next
Is last and narrowest, “Is it kind?”
And if to reach your lips at last
It passes through these gateways three,
Then you may tell the tale, nor fear
What the result of speech may be.
Standing up for your beliefs is noble and expressing your views is important. However, before you get sucked in to a toxic interaction on social media, be mindful. Is what you are about to post true? Is your comment needful and necessary? Is it kind? Resist the urge to wield your precious free speech in a firebomb of negative energy. I beg of you.
If you want to make a difference in this great big political divide, pay attention to how you are showing up for the issues that are important to you.
Please be responsible for the energy you bring into the world.... including social media.