The ego, the soul and the social stream

The ego, the soul and the social stream

Social media.

Love it, hate it, need it, avoid it — we are all on there for various personal, social and professional reasons. And yeah, it’s got its challenges.

Making peace with this reality is neither easy nor quick, and lately it’s been top of mind for me as I go through my work day.

A couple days ago I made a comment on a friend’s post. He was really upset about something going on in the “larger” world — I could tell because of the giant black letters against a blood red background. I may not catch every nuance, but this one was pretty unmistakable.

And I believed he was wrong in how he was looking at the issue. I posted a civil response with my point of view, coming from my 20 years in the online publishing industry.

He deleted the comment, and made a comment about his right to do so. Okay.

At first my ego said “Ha! He knows I’m right; that’s why he deleted my comment.” Then I backed away, gave my ego a gentle but firm hug, and whispered “time out” in her ear.

I browsed through his timeline, reading some of the news sources he shared, trying to gain an understanding of where he was coming from with his opinions. Gradually I began to see what scared him — I could see where the fears were, and how they were being amplified. And I began to realize that his fears — loss of freedom, control, livelihood, ideals — aren’t that far from mine. In fact, they come down to fairly common fears and anxieties we all experience on one level or another.

The only apparent difference? The reasons — the people and policies that are exacerbating these fears in each of us.

In the larger dialogue, these differences can seem vast and insurmountable. But in that personal moment, the commonality of our human anxiety was what struck home. From that point of view, our differences didn’t seem that far off at all.

We all have a circle of immediate influence — in that circle, we can do good, do harm, make change or support the status quo. And then there’s the larger circle, in which we have a voice, sometimes a powerful voice, but changes comes more slowly.

And then there’s the social circle, in which we all have a voice but it often does little to advance our own intentions. It’s just adding noise.

Beyond making our own voice heard, however, is another powerful agent for change. Listening. Trying to truly discover where the other person is coming from, their fears, their motivations and intentions. It’s not easy to go there; but it’s critical if we expect to find long-lasting solutions to the problems that plague us.

 

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