Social media syndrome has several symptoms, however today I am only writing about one symptom, not listening.
When it comes to politics and other societal issues, social media has become a platform to champion our views. Unfortunately, many no longer listen to what others have to say and only use the platform to express their beliefs in hopes of convincing others that their views are right.
Many times these opinions are based on long-held beliefs that no longer hold true, were acquired out of social conditioning, or they are based on false information. We will also often disseminate false information without verifying or questioning the information because it falls into alignment with our beliefs. We make comments out of anger and frustration only because someone else does not have the same beliefs. It is our way of saying that what I believe is right and what you believe is wrong.
This kind of thinking only leads to greater divides in our country, which is very evident today. This is how tribal (like-minded) thinking works: if you do not agree with the tribe then you are ostracized from your tribe. It has nothing to do with being right or wrong most of the time; it is about whether your views agree with the majority views of your tribe. If they do not, then you are wrong.
We can look back through history and find many examples of this happening in the world. For example, anyone who disagreed with the world not being flat was considered crazy, as were the scientists and explorers who went against conventional thinking in their time. Approximately 77,000 German citizens were killed for not being part of Hitler’s tribe. In today’s society, we have Global warming: which tribe are you a part of on this subject?
If we ever want to reach a consensus, we must be willing to listen to one another. We can no longer just espouse our views and expect to find our way to peace. We can no longer just repeat the reported facts because they fall into alignment with those beliefs. We must ask questions, investigate and find the facts for ourselves, and we must we must call into question the truth or validity of our own beliefs, instead. Where did they come from anyway? Do you know? Do they still hold true? This is not only true for social media, we must become the listener in everyday life as well, which means at home, work and in our relationships.
The cure for social media syndrome requires each one of us to have the willingness to look at our beliefs and question them, to question what we hear as fact and to become a listener first. Have you ever noticed that you are practicing what you are going to say in rebuttal as soon as the other person starts talking, without even hearing their complete thought? This is not listening, it is an unconscious way of living, we continually repeat the same things and ideas without any thought, and it becomes automatic.
The next time you get the urge to post something on social media, be sure to fact check what you are posting. Do not share it just because it falls in alignment with your beliefs. Monitor your own thoughts about why you are posting or commenting about something. Notice how you are feeling: Are you posting out of anger or frustration? Is what you are about to say or write bringing people closer together, or does it create a greater divide? Does it lift someone up or are you trying to tear him or her down? Is it kind or unthoughtful?
Remember that when we respond out of anger or fear we are not listening, we are ignoring the symptoms of social media syndrome. Remember to fact check your own thoughts, question them and take a breath before posting or commenting out of anger, fear or the idea that you are right and the other person is wrong, stupid or ignorant. Saying nothing in these situations is more self-empowering than speaking out from the wrong state of mind. Holding onto a position to make yourself feel powerful or to make YOU FEEL RIGHT will only lead to sickness in the mind, body, and world. If you look at the world today with an open heart, you will see that this is true.