Now more than ever we have platforms to put ourselves out there. There are ongoing debates about how much information is too much information to share. And even more debates on the idea that if you put yourself out there in some way, especially on social media, that you should probably just go right ahead and strap on your armor for the barrage of insults and differing opinions about to be thrown your way.
My issue is not people sharing themselves, their opinions, their joys, or their sorrows. I think that’s a big reason why we like to stay in touch via social media – to see how other people are doing. Of course, there comes a time when comparing ourselves to what everyone else’s lives that appear perfect online might become detrimental to our mental health (see this article). But, if you can create a healthy attitude toward social media, why not use it to share positivity and connect with others?
I don’t necessarily agree with people who post their drama online – I guess that is where I draw the line. It’s become all too easy to share unsolicited opinions, critique every sentence, and twist people’s words about what they post. And to say awful things to and about someone you would not otherwise say it. It’s far too easy to react.
What we have forgotten, or maybe some have never even realized, is that how we FEEL and THINK about someone else’s actions, opinions, words, etc… goes through our own frame of reference. We interpret the world through our own lens. It is our responsibility to be aware of this, and be able to respond accordingly.
So, when someone posts something you consider offensive, it’s okay to scroll right past it. We cannot expect everyone to consider our entire life history (which the other person may not even know) when posting or saying things – this is an unrealistic idea of people being THAT sensitive to your feelings.
It is not everyone’s responsibility to censor their beliefs and opinions – to get small – to make someone else comfortable.
Of course, this does not condone being a completely rude, obnoxious, and uncaring individual. It’s important to be kind, compassionate, and understanding towards others and their life experiences, but it is not YOUR job to make other people feel okay. It’s their job.
If someone else’s viewpoint upsets you – the first thing you need to look at WHY it makes you upset. Taking personal responsibility for your reactions, feelings, and thoughts is one of the first steps to healing.
I struggled immensely with this perspective initially. I always saw what other people did as a direct attack on me, and if I felt attacked, I was a fighter, not a flighter. But with this attitude, I was continually angry, I did not approve of my reactions and behaviors towards others, including my words. I did not like myself as a person. I felt mean but also conflicted because I felt like I was the continual victim of life’s joke and other people’s hatred. This was an awful place to reside. I was angry and projected it onto everyone else.
Once I realized that I cannot control other people’s behavior, I looked at my own. WHY were certain people and things and beliefs pissing me off to no end? WHY was I reacting so defensively and out of control? WHY did I attach myself so fiercely to my beliefs? Had there been times where I thought if I had these beliefs it would protect me from being hurt? Were the beliefs I was attached to helping me NOW or were they limiting me?
I realized that my power to a peaceful life resided in my ability to be AWARE of my feelings and thoughts and reactions, and see where I was unfairly projecting this onto others if I saw something I disagreed with. Or if I interpreted someone’s actions or words to be hurtful. And in the end, most of the time people were just going about their lives, trying to make it through, and weren’t trying to actually hurt me.
Facebook was a tough monster for me to deal with at times – and a few times I logged off for months at a time to take a break. When I returned this last time I had done an immense amount of personal growth and spiritual work and had come to a more confident place. With my confidence growing in myself, the person I am, my ability to react in the ways I want, and show compassion towards myself and others, I found Facebook to be a supportive platform where I can share and I can learn. We have this wonderful resource to support others all over the world – why not use it for good?
I used to think the issue was people shared too much of themselves, and this is why drama and negativity spread on the internet so easily. But really, the more I step back and observe, it seems to me the issue is the lack of insight and restraint people have when it comes to not responding to things they don’t agree with. It’s somehow become acceptable to freely give opinions not asked for and to critique every little thing. It’s become “okay” to berate, name call, attack, and abuse other people via a keyboard.
The fact is, most people want to share themselves and be accepted and loved for who they truly are. Why do you think so many people compulsively post, scroll, and comment? We’re all just looking to be accepted and loved in life but many times we put ourselves out there in some way and feel rejected. How could we not with everything I said above? People can seem harsh and life can seem lonely.
When you put yourself out there – expect that people will disagree and not all will handle it in a respectful way. Be ready to separate yourself if needed – protecting your energy and respecting your progress is OKAY. When you put yourself out there on social media, personally to a friend, in a book, in a blog, in a song, in any creative form, expect to feel alone in your journey sometimes.
But focus on those that support you. There will be people out there that appreciate your perspective. Focus on those that help you stay positive and moving forward. Focus on those that see you for who you really are and not through a distorted lens they refuse to change.
Don’t let your negative and hurtful experiences in your life darken your lens so much that you react without kindness and compassion for others. Don’t become hard, bitter, and push people away. Others can only love and support if you let them. When you feel picked apart, judged, and awful things happen to you – know that you still have love and support out there somewhere.
In my past, I have been angry, felt slighted by life, felt like a victim, interpreted everyone’s actions as offensive and insensitive, and I had no self-confidence. I was looking for someone to say the right words, to save me in some way, and to get rid of the hate I had in my heart for me, and in turn, I was taking no responsibility for myself. As I now put myself out there and tell my story and share my perspective as transparently as possible, I feel incredibly vulnerable. But I am confident in myself, my life experiences, and the person I am today to know that this is my path – to share, to learn, and to not let others or life make me negative.
In the end, it came down to me realizing my happiness and future meant more to me than what has happened in the past. I searched for ways to stay soft, kind, and positive. It’s an everyday process, but so worth the effort.
BE SOFT. DO NOT LET THE WORLD MAKE YOU HARD. DO NOT LET PAIN MAKE YOU HATE. DO NOT LET THE BITTERNESS STEAL YOUR SWEETNESS.
– KURT VONNEGUT JR.