Finding Peace Despite Social Media

I love Facebook. I love the casual interaction with business clients and friends, and keeping up with family in other states and countries. And over the last two years, I’ve made peace with the downside of Social Media – the negative side of the public forum. My father used to remind us, as young adults, that politics and religion were topics to avoid in social settings. Apparently that advice is not universal and mostly forgotten in cyberspace.

In the year before the 2012 presidential election, I was frequently agitated and angry by the increased number of negative political and religious posts on social media, from both sides of the aisle. When I lost sleep for two nights over the level of hatred spewed by one “friend” in particular, I made a commitment to not “like,” “comment,” “share,” or otherwise engage in ANY political or religious posts or discussions online for the rest of the election season.

It brought me joy to just zip past most of the messages on Facebook, and by the end of the election, I had committed to maintain that commitment indefinitely. The last two years have been far less stressful as a result. I have unfriended a few people whose posts are always political, preachy, spiteful and exclusionary. I have focused on connecting with those who are positive, upbeat, expansive, and inclusive. I read posts that uplift, or those asking for real help. I admit that I have broken my rule two or three times in the last two years, but I don’t see that as failure. I see it as learning.

Some days it is hard not to respond, like today when I saw the post about the “Christians” who insulted the Hindu priest invited to give the opening prayer at a session of the U.S. Senate, screaming their own prayers in an attempt to override his voice.  There have been days – and today was one of them – that I typed a response equally as insulting as the post that hooked me.

The Chinese say:  “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Thankfully, the “little voice” inside poured a dose of commitment down my throat, which instantly caused me to highlight and delete my words, then forgive myself for the intensity of the response I wanted to send. It feels good. It feels like growth, like peace.

Through Social Media, I’ve learned how reactive I can be, how quick to judge or respond without forethought. By swearing off interaction on two popular Social Media topics, I have settled into a softer, calmer place with a clearer handle on my own life, and the things that really matter to me.