Once upon a time, on a Galaxy phone not too far away, I thought of online or personal conflict as an opportunity to battle to the proverbial death.
As I used to be a first responder when it came to attacking thoughts or ideas that didn’t align with mine, whether it be face to face or online, I used anger, rage, belittling, berating, and down right insulting people with whom I disagreed. As I saw it, everyone was entitled to my opinion and I salivated at the chance to confront anyone on any topic.
During my reign as a verbal and literary terrorist, I was perplexed that very few people were surrendering to my demands to think like me. My remarks were cutting, witty, and most importantly, I was RIGHT! Of course there were those who completely agreed with me and consequently fueled my mission to clone the world consciousness to my will. I encircled myself with my troops of like minded people and pushed away the enemies.
I, of course, was not a unique player in this global game of mind control. But I finally gave up the fight as the 2016 election truly pushed me over the edge and after spending years of battling to have my views understood, I finally got so frustrated I just threw up my hands and surrendered. I shut my mouth and distanced myself from social media as well as the rest of the world.
During my isolation from social battling, I took some time to reassess my life. I was suffering from depression and anxiety as I felt that the world was coming to an devastating end and I had the solutions, but no one was listening. That’s when I discovered love; not just the love of a person or thing, but the love of everything.
After studying with spiritual and kind hearted people, I learned that being ‘right’ is a perspective, not a license to freely treat people abrasively based on differing perspectives. This was a life changer for me. It made me understand and empathize with other people and their perspectives. Because a single hateful rant on Facebook doesn’t convey their pains, experience, goals, dreams, or, personality. This is when I changed my approach to communication.
Where I used to take the offensive hateful approach, I started listening more and talking less. In doing so, I started to learn that starting a conversation from a place of love, rather than hate, I found that people were more receptive to what I had to say. In fact I starting talking about the importance of love and empathy in all conversations. And the more I practiced these simple techniques, I found that I was actually achieving my goal of imparting my views on people; and though we didn’t always agree on all points the other party almost always agreed that my approach of leading with love was the way we all should be communicating.
Being kinder and gentler in my approach to civil discourse had a profound effect not only on me and my hope for the world but also those I spoke with as well as with those with whom our ideals did not align. It did so much for me personally as I finally found a way to communicate and felt like I was being heard.
With my new found powers of love and compassion, I felt energized and went back online to practice these skills back on social media. Regrettably, these skills do not translate to the land of social-online-distancing. I found no matter how kind or non-confrontational I was in my discourse, I was treated as I was before; the enemy for not agreeing with their views. I can’t say that I was surprised, but I did have hope. I just had to accept that the online world doesn’t promote unity and the sharing of ideas, but rather social bubbles of like minded people who literally or figuratively block people based on perspectives.
I understand all too well this realm of perpetual discontent as I was a perpetrator in the faceless semi-anonymous avatar-world that is social media. This was my main reason for starting this blog as it gives me a platform to share my journey of replacing hate in my life and the world with love and hope.
My new way of interacting in the various nebulous clouds is to guide people to use kindness and love towards the people they are trying to influence rather than language that promotes anger, division, and hate.
Ultimately, I’ve found these skills I have acquired are best used in face to face discussions. When you have to look someone in the eye, it’s much more difficult, for most good people, to be cruel, dismissive, or unreasonable. It doesn’t, however, prevent them from sprinting in the other direction when they see you coming.
You can’t change the world by screaming at it, but you certainly can one person at a time when you lead with love.