Some days, I scroll through my Facebook feed and shake my head and wonder if it’s finally time to close my account or maybe just “un-friend” some people. The negativity, the rudeness, and the narrow-mindedness that others feel free to post out there for all to be infected by amaze me. As if they aren’t responsible for the impact if it happens online. As if the words typed onto a screen, in a little box, somehow remove them from being accountable, words they would never have the courage or the disrespect to say to a person’s face, so lightly tapped onto a keyboard and laid out there for the world to collide with.
There have been numerous blogs written about internet accountability in terms of thinking carefully about what you post. I have found in my own experience that it pays to assess my heart and motives before hitting the “enter” key. Why am I posting this? Do I have a hidden agenda, and is it worthwhile? Will this help someone, improve someone’s day, encourage or tear down? It also helps to ask if this is something I would say to a person’s face. Is it worded kindly? Have I done my best to be clear and concise and address the issue directly at hand? Have I removed any derogatory terms and name calling? Do I seek clarity and understanding, or am I trying to make myself look better at the expense of making someone else look bad? Finally, I also need to determine if this is an issue I really feel called to weigh in on. Many, many times I have thoughts, comments, or comebacks that fortunately never see the light of my computer screen after I’ve done a little bit of soul-searching and have decided that no, this isn’t an issue I feel passionately about or that could potentially be improved by adding my two cents’ worth.
All that being said, this post isn’t about internet courtesy or critically evaluating what you post.
This post is about how I was touched today, impacted by my friends showing up on their Facebook feeds and having the courage to be authentic. This post is about how we can improve and inspire the lives around us by using the social media tools at our disposal.
Before my feet even touched the floor this morning, I read Dr. Kelly Flanagan’s post about giving up on his false self, about embracing a life that reflects his genuine self. That is a passion of mine that I’ve struggled with, wrestled with, and embraced for approximately the past decade, that desire to be real; to offer what I have and not what I think others want or what I would like to give; to be brave enough to own up to my own strengths as well as my weaknesses. Dr. Flanagan reminded me of that and inspired me again to be that today.
Later on, mid-morning, I checked in and saw the pictures that made me cry, that touched my heart and pushed the pause button on my agenda and brought the preciousness of life very close. Some friends of mine lost their pre-term baby last year. They are moving through the stages of grief and loss, and this morning, she posted some of the most precious pictures I’ve ever seen. Pictures of a beautiful baby girl, 22 weeks along, and of the parents who were so looking forward to welcoming her, but did not anticipate it being so soon, or for so short a time. My heart broke, thinking of how they must feel, of their pain. I don’t have words. I can only weep with those who weep. I can only hold my two babies a little closer and know that nothing is more precious than the lives and love of those we consider our own. I can only insist again for myself that the true priorities in life must be just that — prioritized. Loved ones. Relationships. Not “to-do” lists. Not expectations of other people. Not money, prestige, appearances. Loved ones, who are with us for only an unknown shortness of time.
Then another post scrolled up, this one about a popular song that’s trending right now, that spoke of more along that same theme, of living on in the hearts of those we leave behind, those we love, those who share this messy, messed-up, and glorious life with us. Another song about being nothing without love. There was a post about kindness; a video about forgiveness and generosity; a news article shared about how we can relate to others in countries torn apart by hatred, racism, and religion. Another expressed a desire to contribute in the lives of those who suffer from substance abuse; another that spoke out about needing to find a balance in the role of women’s rights vs. women’s repression.
So much interaction and discussion and so much we can learn from each other if we’re willing to keep an open mind and meet with regard to the dignity of our fellow Facebookers, if we refuse to stoop to name-calling, bashing, and stubborn tenacity in the correctness and validity of our own already-decided agendas.
With all the pain out there, with all the trash and silliness and time-wasting that shows up on Facebook, this is the other side of that coin. This is why I have an account and why I have no serious intentions of closing it. It is because, some days I am reminded of life, inspired to courage, encouraged to hope, and touched by the very real, very difficult, very beautiful moments that are going on right now in the lives of those I care about the most.
In spite of the geographical, political, or religious distance between us, Facebook provides a platform where we can meet, touch lives, be informed and taught, offer wisdom and insight, and unite on this journey. “Together, but not the same” as the Android marketing campaign says. I like that. I like that we can be different, but still come together to strengthen and support. I like that all of our differences can make us stronger, more versatile, and more interesting. Sameness gets old and boring; unique adds flavor.
I would like to encourage each of you to continue sharing, to continue in the willingness to be heart-wrenchingly authentic, to continue posting your experiences on this Grand Adventure. And please, remember to keep respect and dignity forefront in your mind, to remember we are all humans, we are all struggling with hard things, we are all searching for a little bit of love to connect and unite and bring us that much closer to those traveling with us. We all need kindness. Wisdom. Humor, just not at the expense of others. We all need to be inspired to be our better selves, our true selves, to be bold enough to offer what we have to give. For where would this world be without our unique and specialized gifts?
Now go take on the rest of your day, bringing your authenticity and courage with you. Spread it about, everywhere. Directly. On Facebook. Be contagious. Be an agent of epic positivity, speaking life, and infusing others with a tenacious will to live large and take risks and take back methods (like social media) of encouraging others.