I woke up this morning to a message from a friend that she wrote to me last night after I had gone to bed. “How do you stay sane on Facebook? Everyone seems to be losing their minds.” I’ve been thinking about it all morning and it caused me to sit and think over my journal this morning, pouring out my soul for over thirty minutes. And now here I am refining and writing it out here because I found that I really felt everyone I know needs to hear it…maybe. Or maybe they don’t. I won’t post this to my timeline. I’ll write it here on my blog and share it with my scant number of followers, but you never know. Someone might need to hear what I have to say.
First of all, I’ve found the “unfollow” button. If someone’s daily posts are far too negative, angry, offensive, thoughtless, or vague for me to want in my mind, I unfollow them. We are still friends. I would answer their message or help in a crisis, I just don’t invite them over for tea. We have so many contacts on Facebook. I think I actually move among a handful of those people. Yes, it’s nice to stay in contact with someone from high school or an old job, but we aren’t “friends”, we’re acquaintances. Sometimes, when I am reminiscing about a person, I look them up and see what they are up to. It’s nice, but I don’t see the need to have all those people constantly feeding into my thinking.
Second, owing to the current state of panic I find online, I very clearly remember the same sense of panic from the other side when Obama was elected eight years ago. I participated in that sense of panic. I’ve grown. Reading “War & Peace”, I can totally agree with Tolstoy’s thoughts on history. Looking back we can point out who did what and what it caused but only looking back. Looking forward, it’s not so clear. What created men like Hitler and Stalin could just as easily create world peace. There are too many variables when looking into the future. We’re wasting our limited resources of time and energy fighting with people we barely know online.
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to keep sane is to focus on what good I can actually do. I can’t stop the Gestapo from being created, but I can put myself between them and my neighbor. And I mean my actual neighbor, the one I can see and touch, not the figurative one out there…somewhere, as in my “world neighbor”, whatever that means. The idea that “it’s someone else’s responsibility” seems to have gotten a bad rap, but it is the actual point. There are things that we cannot control or effect. There are people we cannot reach, things we cannot do anything about. Those things are someone else’s responsibility. Everyone else has to do their part and that’s their responsibility, not mine. To busy myself with what someone else should do, is what creates animosity between people.
People lost their minds when Obama was elected, realized they were unhappy with it and what he may or may not do, but the world didn’t end. They adjusted and moved on. They’ll do the same with Trump. And then they’ll do it again when the pendulum swings the other way and they elect someone else, when the other team wins. What would be nice is if we all learned a lesson from events instead of playing politics like a game of national football, but then again maybe that would be just as bad. Human nature never changes.
I do get frustrated, though. How can I see something so many others can’t? And then I wonder if I really do see a pattern, maybe everyone is right to fight and I’m the ass saying it’ll all work out. The world is not ending, that I know. I wish more people could talk (or write as the case is today) in a more curious way. Do we all believe what we personally think is the best way? Is there no room for discussion or learning between people? Have we lost the idea of sharing our ideas in a polite way? Have we no love for our fellow man? Are we all on the right or wrong end of things?
Yoga, Meditation, Stoicism (specifically The Daily Stoic), reading classic literature, reading my bible, writing here and in my journal, all seem to help me try and make sense of what is happening online and in the world. But how do we walk through a mob of anger and hostility and not get on our knees begging for people to listen to reason? Because I know it won’t help for me to get just as angry and hostile, even if it’s justified in my mind.
What will help? More people not reacting, more people taking a pause to reflect, more people smiling and loving mankind even when they are being ugly.
What flower will bloom more heartily?
The one that is shaded and dry?
The one that is hit with the sun’s harshest rays and the rain’s pelting drops?
Or the one that is warmed by the gentle sun and damp earth?
I want be the gentle sun. Will you be the damp earth? I could use the help.