The day I hit the Snooze for 30 Days button on one my friends on Facebook I was really upset about doing that. It bugged me the entire day and several days after that. I really liked this person and we had been friends for a very long time. I knew her family and they knew mine. We had enjoyed a lot of fun times together and I really valued their friendship. I thought long and hard before I hit that button but I knew it was the right thing to do. The trouble was I just couldn’t read any more of their posts without getting upset and offended every day.
For quite a while this friend had been making posts of a political nature. Now first of all, I too have posted a few things I found funny or important to share. We all post things we find or want to say through our social media but every single post from this friend became worse and worse to the point these posts were offensive and dividing. Every single post was a slam against the other political aisle without regard that someone else may think or feel different, have different information that contradicted what they were saying or just wasn’t of their same value system. I personally try to listen to all sides of an issue so that I can not only form my own opinion but understand someone else’s perspective. It’s not always easy to listen because I have my own opinions but I honestly try especially with people I love and have as friends. However, these posts were not expressing opinions but rather just seemed to spew hate and were accusatory that if you didn’t agree with them you were stupid, a racist, ill-bred, selfish and many other offensive things. I had enough.
After I did it the first time, I didn’t find it any easier hitting it on other friends and yet I did it. Sometimes after that 30 days was up and they would start reappearing on my timeline with the same content I hit it again. It tore my heart up doing it but I felt so much relief in not being surrounded by the negativity even though I missed these friends. When I would talk to them or we would text, if it came up or seemed the right opportunity I would tell them I hit that button and tell them why. It was often met with dead silence.
Soon after I started doing this, I had another friend of mine post something about the other side of political thinking and said if you agreed with the President then to unfriend her now she didn’t have room in her life for people who thought this way or believed it was right. I put my phone down and thought about that post for a few hours, then I sent her a reply on that post. I asked if this was true? I asked her to please let me know if she was serious because I want to honor her as my friend and not offend her. We’ve been friends a very long time and I would hate to lose her but if she thought we can’t be friends because we don’t share the same political or religious thinking then I will respect wishes and unfriend. I had tears running down my face as I wrote this reply.
She immediately called me and said she wasn’t directing that to me and she too would hate to lose me as a friend. She valued our friendship and loved that we could agree to disagree on
things. While relief came to me, I couldn’t help but wonder who she was directed it to then.
So why post that type of message I ask?
Knowing we don’t share the same political views on things, nor should we, why threaten friendship over it? I’m sure I’m not her only friend who shares a difference in opinions so does this message apply to them? Why support and share something that you know could be offensive to another, a friend you care about? I get we all can feel passionate about something and believe all other thinking is wrong but would we really be willing to sacrifice friendships and other relationships over them if someone didn’t agree with us? Is our opinion so incredibly firm and completely right that any other opinion is immediately and completely wrong and we don’t have room in our life to consider something else is possible?
Is it worth hurting another over? Even if you think you are right in your thinking?
Watching this happen for months and months on social media and hitting snooze on friends I adored was painful. I struggled with why this was happening and was it really that we could not be friends if we didn’t agree on everything? This didn’t feel good; it in fact hurt. It felt lonely and isolating. It felt like rage, anger and passionate opinions were prevailing over our desire to be connected, kind, loving and encouraging to each other. It didn’t feel natural at all but rather a brewing of pent up emotions and societal pressure from media. It seemed to be a man-made attack on the fundamental need for human connection and companionship where only like mindedness was allowed. I was watching friendships destroyed to the point they were at risk for not being able to be strengthened over opinions!
I wish I could just blame it on the events of 2020. I wish it was just a matter of having to social distance that it caused us to erupt into this rage that was coming from riots, social media dividing content and media. I wish it were just because there was to some people an unpopular President leading our country. However, I know it is not any of those things as they are just symptoms of a larger issue. I believe the underlying current that charged all of this is our own undervaluing of human connection with each other. Our own limitations in being able to truly connect and form relationships based on mutual respect, honor and protect each other.
It’s easy to post something on social media and think we are speaking to others, sharing something we find amusing or important. It’s easy to let our words become something different in tone, content and interpretation when they are typed on an electronic screen. Social media and the media at large has become a place where anything goes because we don’t feel personally responsible for what we say on these platforms. We feel we can express ourselves freely and openly to say how we feel and what we believe. We can and we do. Yet we don’t consider if we would really say those things to a person we are physically with to their face, sitting next to them, calling them our friend. We don’t consider as we type who we are talking to and what our words are doing to them. We don’t because we can’t see them in front of us as we put these things out there.
There used to be a general rule that it was impolite to talk about politics, religion, love matters and money. These were things that every person has an opinion about and well somethings should be kept private. You only discussed them with those very, very close to you. This rule saved a lot of families, friendships and relationships over time. When social media came on the scene and people started connecting with others they knew and didn’t know as well these socially taboo topics of discussion became the things people talk about most! I personally think it’s great if we can blast open the doors of talking about topics once considered taboo but I think what is happening on the media and social media demonstrates we don’t know how to have these conversations.
We are not equipped with any boundaries these days of how to have these conversations so we don’t divide and destroy each other. We can’t heal history or collaborate on ways to make things better because we are so emotionally charged with our opinions of what is right and wrong. We must let these emotions out but I don’t know that rioting, destroying property and hurting others physically and emotionally is the right outlet. I don’t believe posting hateful offensive messages on social media to the point your friends question if you are still friends is the right venue either.
As I look at the carnage that is around our globe from all of this, the amount of social media posts that are damaging friendships and the enlarging gap we all feel from each other my heart is truly heavy. I struggle with what to say to my why this is all happening in our world and how we can fix it. I do believe deeply it starts with each us desiring to fix it though. I believe it requires each of us to put aside our own opinions we care deeply about and listen to each other. Regardless of race, culture, background, economical situation, marital status, and more we have to overlook it all and see each other as human beings eye to eye, shoulder to shoulder working together to live better with each other.
I firmly believe it starts with recognizing how easily something on social media can be construed and the power of our words. When we see one another as humans and not just some crowd we post things to on the Internet we re-establish human connection. We give credence to idea that humans can overcome great challenges when they work collectively. I don’t recall many people in my life saying no to working out a problem when they are approached in gentleness, respect, kindness and a true willingness to work together on it.
If you have read my blog for any length of time you know this is a space where I teach living more naturally. To me, friendship is piece of that framework that allows us to learn from each other, enriching our knowledge and connection to nature and each other. When I look at the situation holistically the root of the problem is our own disconnection from both nature and each other. For a society that is connected and wired for communication we really are not that connected at all. We have lost our connection to ourselves, each other and our world. We have let electronic communication, media and social media create a situation where actual human interaction is minimal, lacking in consequences and responsibility.
We have forgotten what it means to speak to a friend, valuing their friendship and place in our lives. We have forgotten how to be friends, forming new bonds with each other in a space that is respectful, uplifting, encouraging and kind. We are not gentle with ourselves, each other or nature and that is, in my opinion, the heart of why we see what we do in the world today. It is why I believe so many people report they are depressed, lonely and lacking in relationships that are meaningful and fulfilling. It is was fuels us with rage, passion and opinions that further divide us rather than connecting us closer.
How to fix this is a big question but one that I believe does not have to be complex. It starts with each of us individually reconciling our passions, emotions and feelings about some topics such as politics, what is going on in the world and our opinions on those matters. Not for one minute should we be less than who we are but rather funneling our passions in a constructive solution so we are working towards a greater good rather than simply stating something that is hurtful and offensive.
Changing how we use social media in this way to promote solutions, genuine interest in better and protection of our relationships to others is key. I’m not saying limiting it but just like all important messages we give to friends I believe social media posts need to be verified for:
When you are living naturally in a modern world social media is a large part of that picture. Very few of us don’t use it so finding a way to live in peace with it, forming connections rather than destroying them is how we support living naturally with these means of communication.
These two oils, Lavender and Spearmint, are emotionally connected to communication. Spearmint is the oil of speaking our truth. It allows us to confidently say what we need and then act on it for our fulfillment. Lavender is the oil of communication and calm helping us find that peace in our emotions and passions so we can form words that are honest, expressive and yet very calm. In both we are self-aware of our needs and the impact our words can have on others. We avoid the negative feelings of feeling unloved, isolating, defensive and can speak from our heart in an intentional way. (contact me for application uses of these oils specific to supporting communication – https://www.dragonspitapothecary.com/contact)
I don’t know that there has ever been a time in American history where what happened politically or who held any office in our government was worth destroying a personal relationship over. While social media is a newer form of human communication it needs to be treated the same as if we were sitting with each other sharing, connecting and building one another up. Perhaps that means until we can navigate it positively that way we use the age old rule of not discussing politics, religion, money or matters of the heart. The heart of friendship is the ability to encourage, support and love one another in kindness while enjoying the bond we can share with another intellectually and emotionally. This does not require us to agree on everything but rather to disagree in a loving way that still allows us to talk respectfully about topics that are sensitive without tearing each other down. It can in fact be rather enjoyable not to agree when it is done in a way that promotes respect of each other.
For further information on the oils mentioned in this post and others that promote positive communication, please contact me. https://www.dragonspitapothecary.com/contact