“As people seek out the social settings they prefer- as they choose the groups that makes them feel the most comfortable- the nation grows more politically segregated- and the benefit that ought to come with having a variety of opinions is lost to the righteousness that is the special entitlement of homogenous groups. We all live with the results: balkanized communities whose inhabitants find other Americans to be culturally incomprehensible; a growing intolerance for political differences that has made national consensus impossible; and politics so polarized that Congress is stymied and elections are no longer just contest over policies, but bitter choices between ways of life. “ – Bill Bishop, quoted from his book, The Big Short
How many times have you been tempted to “delete” your Facebook? I say that in quotes because you can never truly delete your Facebook. It is always waiting for you to cave in to the societal and peer pressures to reengage. But how many times have you flicked your phone screen from bottom to top, trying desperately to find something other than political articles reposted from some unheard of website? I know I have. I have done this enough times to recognize the hurt, depression and frustration that comes only from remaining “plugged in” for too long, or getting caught up in the “stories” of other people. And it’s not just Facebook, but all social media. As with all things, it can be used appropriately, as it was intended, or it can be infiltrated by the Russian government.
The pomp and circumstance of it all it especially exhausting to me. Every retweet, every shared post feels like friends, family, loved ones saying, “Seeee!! Look!! I told you so!” I have managed to find a news headline that reflects my beliefs, so it must be true! Obviously, I am aware of all the brilliant things that social media can do for us. Heck, I rely on social media to build my brand, gain credibility with clients, and stay connected to current issues. I realize my responsibility in using social media to my benefit and not to my peril, also that I cannot make anyone use social media how I think they should, unfortunately.
Tools meant to connect us are instead, a wedge. Highlighting disconnection, driving us a part, masking real issues. These “real issues” have the potential to bring us together.
This week I gave a presentation to a room full of people from all different professions. They were doctors, and lawyers, and real estate agents, and roofers, etc. and none of them knew much about mental health. I have worried about this presentation for weeks; “how do I talk to people about mental health who don’t normally talk about mental health?”, “how do I get a room full of strangers to discuss or at least acknowledge things like depression, anxiety, suicide, trauma and alcohol and drug addiction?”
By the end, I was genuinely surprised with the reaction. Everyone “had a cousin who needed help”, “knew of someone who could use my services”, shared how mental illness had touched their lives, and discussed their experiences with past mental health therapy. This was the exact reaction I wanted. Instead of walls building to shut me out, they crumbled. Instead of shying away from vulnerability by pretending these issues didn’t effect them, people were open minded, mature, and curious!
Open minded. Mature. and curious.
Are you openminded, mature and curious in your social interactions?
Can you maintain your open mindedness, maturity, and curiosity on social media?
Do you reward others for these traits? How do you show them that?
Thanks for reading.