In this technologically interconnected world I sometimes imagine all 8 Billion of us able to be “on the same page” about ideas, concepts, or notions—like universal truths of LOVE and JUSTICE—especially when I am in a state of peacefulness. Because I am still feeling the presence of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and lived example of presence after listening yesterday to the Plum Village podcast The Way Out is In (episode 33), I found myself breathing more mindfully and appreciating the softness of my face in the early hours of the morning today. I even smiled to the furrow brow I have and feel love for all the care about the world that has etched these lines in place.
In this peaceful state, a deeply healing idea came to me—one that could bring much peace and joy to people personally and professionally, individually and in community. And ideas which can heal us in this way feel especially important and necessary to attend to and amplify as broadly as possible so that we can make the best use of this technological interconnectedness we enjoy in today’s “digital age.”
The idea that came to me is this:
What if we all practiced social media as an offering of love to one another? An offering of prayer (if that is a practice that currently feels generative to you) and joy—a gift of well wishes issuing forth from the heart!
One by one we would see the powerful impact this has. We might even see a dramatic decline in the divisive posts by people who are paid handsomely to sow seeds of discontent—even “hate speech.” Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?!
Many of us have dramatically reduced our use of social media. But our youngest—and most biophysically and emotionally susceptible—brothers and sisters are currently growing up with multiple online channels of connection as their primary formation of identity. If the new model of social media usage was to make each post an offering of the heart, we could all re-learn how to listen deeply to our hearts—“is this post I am about to make coming from my heart?” If we hear a “no” response we delete it before posting.
Eventually we would not only become more and more clear about our authentic and internal “yeses” we would feel the added benefit of joy-filled gift giving. Such an added benefit is a deeply human aspiration. As we give from the heart, our life energy expands and strengthens like roots and branches of growing, healthy trees.
Of course it may be challenging to alter social media behavior given the current state of competition for likes and followers that has grown so fraught as to be artificially hyper-inflated by the ability to purchase statistical favor by the thousands. But over time—with diligent and mindful practice—we would see the artifice fall away as all the “oxygen in the room” gets taken up by Love and Life-Affirming Heart-Centered Well Wishes for each other.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media www.seejane.org (if you haven’t heard of it, do check it out!) has recently co-produced a study about the gaming industry. Gaming is both online and social; it is a daily experience of 60% of Americans aged 8-18 and play time increased 75% since the pandemic. This rigorous study—the only one of its kind in existence—found that 79.4% of games depicted characters perpetuating violence with a leading motive of personal gain (84.3%) versus a more noble motive such as protecting a stranger or society (7.4%). This study brings to light the truth so many of us know in our guts and it is an excellent tool for helping us make and help others make choices in online practices. What I found heartening is the fact that most gamers ages 10-26 are engaging in cooperative play (78%) versus competitive play (3%). (And check out the 7 Pillars of Promundo’s Man Box Scale in the report’s Executive Summary).
Gaming is a unique subset of socialized media, one I don’t yet participate in. I’d like to find a report which reveals the truths about what we know in our guts about social media overall; though Frances Haugen is a remarkable hero in truth telling for filing SEC complaints against Facebook. Her interviews reveal, as a former employee, that Facebook has intentionally harmed young girls globally through hateful and divisive content optimization. This is what heartfulness must contend with! Healing our hearts is the work of today.
When I reflect on competition and how it can affect me biophysically, particularly as it has evolved over the past few years, I recoil a bit in antipathy. It has been many years since I made the decision to become a digital vegan—consuming select media in small doses. I also follow a vegan food diet. Both of these choices have been made because I generally do not trust the capital behind the technological and nutritive global interconnectedness.
I seek a world of deep trust in one another and in the systems that bring us all together in myriad celebration-worthy ways on and across this magnificent Earth we call home.
Perhaps we will soon reach a tipping point of this new social media practice—grounded in offerings of Peace and Love and Joy. Please join me in uplifting this practice, amplifying it far and wide, and generating the gift-giving benefits it will have to us and our communities.