It is a noisy world out there. These days, it’s noisier than ever. I find myself both addicted to and repelled by social media. I want to see what’s going on, what people are saying and sharing, but I also feel like I’m going to come out of my skin listening to all the squawking (including the squawking in my own head).
I’ve noticed that I’m feeling compelled to share everything on Facebook. If I see an article about something I like or something that’s upsetting me, I feel such a pull to hit ‘share’ and post it along with my opinion. I have to remind myself over and over again that the Facebook contacts on my personal page (friends, family members, and colleagues) already know my opinion. It won’t surprise them or enlighten them to hear that I’m against the Dakota Access Pipeline, for instance. And as for my Author Page, it’s important for me to respect the people who are supporting my work by not cluttering their feed with endless links – I’m sure they’re seeing enough of that from their own friends and family.
I’ve also noticed there are interesting parallels between the social media world and the White House right now. There’s a lot of noise over there, too. A lot of overlapping voices. A lot of words whose truth, meaning, and/or consequences are, as yet, unclear. A lot of anger and defensiveness. A lot of squawking.
We are all storytellers, whether we are writers or not, and we’re all trying to tell our story the loudest.
Unfortunately, the noise is making us all a little antsy. A little louder than usual. And more prone to reactionary storytelling than we should be. Just like on Facebook, we’re randomly spewing ‘shares’ and opinions even to those who already know our opinions. Even to those who don’t care about our opinions. Even to those who don’t need to know our opinions.
My time on social media is pushing me to be more intentional with what I put out into the world. I don’t want to contribute to the noise. I want to create and protect beauty with my words.
The truth is, my friends and family, for the most part, don’t need to wade through a stream of shares and opinions from me. They already know me. Sharing these things isn’t going to change anyone’s mind if they disagree. And it’s not going to change the situation I’m squawking about, either.
While I’ve found it important to share my feelings about political issues from time to time, for the most part, I’m trying to be more intentional with my voice. I’m writing to my representatives. I’m working on editorials. I’m weaving my thoughts and feelings into my work as a fiction writer and a feminist artist.
I ask myself these questions over and over:
What am I hoping to gain by sharing this?
What are my intentions in sharing this?
Is this going to protect the beauty of the world or create more of it?
I think it’s important for us all to go deep and get very clear about our intentions whenever we speak, write, or communicate in any way. There’s been a lot of change and the world is a little topsy-turvy right now. We have to right ourselves before we can start getting clear about who we are and where we want to go. That’s going to require a little silence which means we’re all going to have to learn how to cut out own unnecessary noise.
Now the big challenge for me is implementing this in my personal conversations. In general, I’m doing pretty well, but I have to admit, with my very small inner circle, there’s a lot of squawking going on. I’m going to have to start thinking about the relationships in my inner circle as a social media feed. Then I can start asking myself whether or not I really need to share what I’m sharing.
In the meantime, I, like so many, am navigating my way through this dark forest by the light of my lantern. One step at a time. And as intentional as I can remind myself to be.