Last night I came down with something. I felt a bit nauseous and lightheaded. And because my youngest daughter had just concluded her bought with the dreaded stomach bug the day before, one would suspect that I could possibly have contracted it. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
You may not understand the “unfortunate” part of this. Let me explain.
I had just finished putting away the dinner dishes and had settled down into my favorite cozy chair with a cup of tea when I made, what I now believe, was a poor decision. I picked up my cell phone and began mindlessly scrolling through social media. My intention was to relax and connect with friends, however, this is not what happened. Rather quite the opposite.
You see, I have deluded myself into believing that I connect with others when I visit with them on Facebook. Now let’s get something straight here, this is not visiting with someone, but rather becoming a voyeur of someone through a computer screen.
To visit with someone that person must actually be present. To become a Voyeur means to secretly watch another, and isn’t that the platform Facebook provides? So rather than connecting with friends on social media we are actually disconnecting. It provides the false belief that we have reached out to them by simply clicking a like button.
Our “friends” create a snapshot of a moment in time in their day with a posted image. This snapshot, more often than not, is premeditated or chosen as a shareable moment. One which they choose to share to express themselves in the way in which they wish to be perceived. We all wish to be perceived in the best light... to be liked.
Perception vs. Reality
So here’s the thing, As a result of spending more time on social media, I have found myself feeling more disconnected from friends, and more connected with unfavorable feelings about myself and the people around me. You see, I can’t help comparing, judging and making assumptions about people.
I know I am not alone here.
At times, social media makes me feel better about myself and my life and at other times it makes me feel much worse. There is hardly an in between. The ego navigates each post through a comparative lens and reacts accordingly. Just then, that exhausting voice in our heads begins to speak louder and louder and drown out reality and reason. We then become disconnected from ourselves.
This is a mindless process. Meaning, we begin to lose our sense of reality through numbing escape mechanisms. Unfortunately, this leaves many of us feeling of separate, like we do not belong. Often times, we don’t even realize this is happening. We are too consumed with our habit that we lose our sense of being. We are no longer present, rather lost in thought surrounded in comparison. We begin to feel sad and left out and anxious about how where we fit in.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
Post- “pardon me” Depression
So on this particular evening, while mindlessly scrolling through social media, I received a private message from a “friend”. This message was sent with the best intentions, as pointed out by the sender. She was alerting me that someone had publicly posted strong negative opinions about my work. My friend expressed to me that she wished to remain anonymous but felt she needed to tell me what was going on and that the post, in her opinion, was in poor taste.
In response, I immediately went into “fight or flight” mode.
“The fight-or-flight response (also called hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.” Wikipedia
Thanks to the deep breath I instinctively took, I was able to keep myself from heading in either direction. I remained present in the moment.
I then thanked my “friend” for sharing and scrolled over to the scene of the crime. My first instinct, was to turn away, but much like stumbling upon an accident scene on the highway, I just had to look. Even though I knew that once I “looked” I would be unable to shake the image from my mind.
It is always difficult to shake these images from our minds.
I proceeded with caution, assuring myself that I could handle it. Just a quick peek was all I needed. My curiosity had gotten the best of me. And just like that, there it was. The troubling photoshopped images created by the person mocking my work leapt off the screen at me as if they were created in 3D. I began to feel nauseous. The blood rushed from my face and I felt lightheaded.
This was definitely not the stomach bug. I was having a physical reaction to this negative experience.
And yet, against my better judgement I continued to scroll through the post and read the handful of hurtful comments supportive to the page’s administrator. It was like watching a bully and her accomplices on the school playground intimidating the nerdy kid who quietly wanted to be left alone. But the bully felt obliged to attack someone, and on this particular day, in this very moment, my work represented that nerd and had become the recipient of this person's hostility.
Due to the fact that this person and I have numerous mutual “friends” on Facebook, I began curiously scrolling through the likes. Had any of my “friends” “liked” this post? How could anyone actually “like” a post such as this? And where were the playground monitors? How could this be happening? I became extremely curious.
Recess is now Over back to the classroom
I understand that this world is comprised of many people who differ in opinion. That difference in opinion is actually what our country was built upon. I actually enjoy learning from people who have a difference in opinion, there is knowledge to be uncovered in our differences. However, when a difference in opinion becomes an irrational one sided attack, launched in an irresponsible manner, I stop listening.
Here’s where the learning truly begins. There are great lessons in difficult situations. Like treasures buried deep beneath the bullshit. I mean the earth, that sometimes is covered in bullshit, especially if you live on a farm that raises bulls. Anyways beneath it all there lies the truth. A simple truth.
And just like that...
The phone rings, and we receive word that one of my daughters best friends has just lost her mother. She passed away unexpectedly today.
This news brings us back to the present moment, and connects us all to the truth. The only thing that truly matters is love through acceptance.