Before I started blogging I never considered myself a writer mostly because I really need an editor to call myself what I can’t do well without help. So I didn’t write and I didn’t feel compelled to do it. Looking back at the first few weeks of blog writing you can see how few words I put in my posts. I had no idea what to say; I was a complete blank. Then it just happened – the words and thoughts came as quickly as the ideas for the next piece of art. Writing has been one of the greatest gifts that has come out of the last 18 months. I can now sit down and it just pours out of me. I’m a blogger – I write and no longer really care too much about the commas. I now write like no one is watching sort of like how I create art! Until recently I never really understood why people kept a journal. I’ve tried time after time but in all of these “journals” I’ve wasted so many beautiful blank books with a few pages of writing that just bore and baffle me. They seem the same because I never got into the habit that allowed me to “let go” and simply express. My grandmother kept a yearly journal. She wrote just a little something almost every day in a bound book with the year in gold embossed on the front. I wonder where those journals are. My guess is that they are more of an account of the day’s happenings rather than a baring of the soul but I could be wrong; she had just a hint of rebel in her.
The baring of the soul type of journaling is what I’m now interested in. Bearing the soul – reveals so much. It is scary but worth it. What I’m seeing from the last few days of writing is that I may need to find a place to vent but no matter how much I want to share some things, I will continue to force myself to draw a line as to what I share online. Where is that line? It’s a threshold that as a society we are all walking over without seeing we’ve even taken a step. I hope we can all work to STOP at the mean threshold. Anger is a necessary emotion as long as it’s not driven from hate & we all experience hurt. But what we’ve lost is the ability to see that anger and hurt can be expressed without being MEAN. No meanies in my life – I WILL walk away from people who are emotionally exhausting and people who express themselves in a mean, aggressive, and hurtful way. What does it accomplish except to tear others down? I will not go there. So even though what I wrote last week isn’t mean on the surface – I don’t see how it is productive. My solution to people who are being mean to us… walk away. I don’t even want to call these people “bullies” anymore although I do understand that we need to label at times to get our point across. I do not want to waste any more of my time on people who aren’t loving and kind. I have so many loving and kind people in my life and focusing on people who choose (yup – it is a choice) to be hurtful and find targets for their internal hurt and fear reduce the quality of my life exponentially.
This all stems from me spending half – HALF – of a precious day last Friday writing out some big frustrations about the devastation that Facebook can create in our lives. I wrote six pages of utter disappointment & resentment that was headed straight for my blog. This became a HUGE flashing alert that I was indulging in a sheer vent. I was so ready to do what I don’t do well and that is be negative. My frustrations and negativity have been washed away – for now. I know I’ll have to scrub the grime away again and again. Anyone who tells you life isn’t a dirty mess just hasn’t lived long or passionately enough! My husband read it and although it wasn’t easy for him to relive the experience he understood my need and was behind me publishing it but I spoke with my Mom and told her the basics of what I had written and although she too has been closely connected to what I’ve been dealing with – I couldn’t get myself to send it to her. You see, I didn’t want her to relive it and to be affected by the emotions of reliving it. It has been very hard on everyone close to me. So…
I realized that I had to stop and gain some perspective. I needed to distance myself for a while.
I don’t want to express myself on impulse unless it is a positive feeling – those kinds of feelings are made for impulse. So, I walked away from my computer and my smartphone and unfortunately from many friends to gain some quiet; some time for self-reflection. The quiet and time away have helped show me that I want to BE a kind heart and live in a loving way even to the people who are not kind and loving to me. We all know this is no easy path but easy paths are almost always the wrong ones. This is the path I choose and will strive for.
I found my way past the impulse to expose what isn’t pretty, a very base urge of our human nature to humiliate those who have hurt us. I had the impulse to do what I counsel others to find their way out of doing. I justified it in tempered words and careful descriptions but it would have none the less been an eye for an eye even if I hid it in the guise of compassion. So as much as I’d like to tell you all the nitty gritty details of how difficult a current situation is for me right now – and it would feel better in a way – it would very quickly feel horrible and inauthentic. I will not add anything more. I’d like to leave it that all around people have been hurt. But it is simply time it stopped. I ask people to think about what you hear and make a decision about people from your heart not from idle gossip and third hand accounts. We are all good yet fallible and affected people. Everyone is. We all have friends and family and those who care about us who are hurt when we are hurt.
I’d like to share with you some of the observations that have come out of the last year or so of “being online.” After a few days of getting some distance from Facebook it’s quite a list and one I hope to take to heart.
- Facebook can be a very destructive place. We add to it being a negative place when we watch someone be taken apart and maligned. Before I really looked into group dynamics on Facebook, I would just watch and shake my head and even get angry but thought it was ok if I didn’t participate. Here’s an article that opened my eyes. If we just watch and don’t at least say, “this is not ok” before we walk away, we are participants – like it or not that is the fact of what is happening on Facebook these days. By watching you hold responsibility too.
- Life feels much more in control and positive with less Facebook time. I will now be looking at a maximum of 1 hour a day on FB and twitter. I needed a Facebook intervention. I asked my husband to change my password and for help to keep me away because I have lost control on my ability to manage it – for now – I’m working on it.
- Your friends know how to find you if they need you. You aren’t letting them down by not being there. This is something I’ve struggled with but my friends & family know I’m always available so I need to get over the misconception that I’m letting people down by not being there.
- People love to stir up trouble and people love to watch bad things happen. I refuse to watch or participate in any of this type of behavior. I choose joy, positivity, and love. I choose to walk away. I urge my friends to do the same.
- Bad stuff said in online secret groups are like the sound of a tree falling in the forest. If you aren’t there to hear it – in your reality it never happened. If you see & hear it happen think before you hoist the hooey on someone else because it is unneeded and unwanted hurt that has expanded past the place & people who somehow want that to be who they are.
- People love a train wreck. Facebook thrives because we have become a society of watchers rather than doers. Go do something instead of just watching.
- People make a choice to participate in bad behavior by simply watching and until enough people have felt the first hand effects and say ENOUGH, it won’t stop. (And don’t think you are immune, it will eventually happen to you.)
- I thought that since I was a source of information for my community that I had to have a public and open profile for everyone who wanted to hear about what I’m doing personally as a health advocate. I thought that I needed to show you all of me. I was wrong and I will be changing the way I use online social media for my advocacy work. Unfortunately my public personal page will become less – personal and less accessible.
- YOU are responsible for what is in YOUR newsfeed. The more people who take a stand to not participate in the negative commentary and gossip the better Facebook will be. It is human nature that simply watching others do something good and uplifting encourages others to do the same. Surround yourself with encouraging and positive people on Facebook and you will be less likely to be a participant in the negativity by default because the negativity won’t be in your newsfeed.
- The emotions that surround you on Facebook affect you greatly and emotions are contagious. The poppycock (isn’t that a great word!) that happens on Facebook seeps into your “real” life. It is a simple concept called transference. Think about that and think about making some adjustments.
- One phone call a month with a friend is worth a million status updates. A note in the mail worth a billion!
- It’s JUST Facebook – there is so much more to life.
I’m going to find my way out of the Facebook trap even if I have to scrape and scream and God forbid – miss something!
I wish to embrace our differences! Life’s mosaic is much more interesting if we are different. If you disagree with someone fine, but just say NO to Mean. Stop yourself before you choose to engage and hurt. Pick up a journal and vent away – that hurts no one and gets it out AND – it’s done in the real world! Get some distance from your online self even if it’s for just a few days and see if you feel a world of difference in you happiness and stress levels. I plan on taking a lot of time away over the summer – I’ve got a lot more reflection to do and some big choices to make. I only want to be where I can love and be kind and get it in return.
Until the next time!
In the studio today April 16, 2012 I created this image in mixed media. Pen & ink, graphite, watercolor, acrylic, wax, pastel, and my friend Holly’s secret art creation weapon – spit!
Here is the post that gave me the courage to write this one. Thank you Brene Brown.