|We control the media more than we know.|
Welcome to the age of social media. We can now post, share, like, comment, follow, pin, check-in, hashtag, tweet, and perform a whole list of other nouns that have become verbs in the blink of an eye. We can be instantly connected to hundreds, or even thousands of friends around the world. We have unlimited information at our fingertips at all times.
Today, it's more likely that we've spent more time chatting or messaging with someone we've never met than actually having a face-to-face conversation with the actual people in our lives. Many of our off-line relationships are but hollow representations of the seemingly deep connections we might perceive with our online audience. Have we succumbed to the Matrix after all?
We all know that social media is a great way to get the word out about an upcoming birthday party or a new product or class to try. It's a useful tool to raise awareness of social issues and to spark in-depth discussions on everything from hotbed political issues to what hairstyle Miley Cyrus is currently sporting.
I've used several different social media sites effectively to share this blog in order to reach over 5,500 readers in 63 countries to date. To my surprise, my last blog post was viewed by 2,000 people in 17 countries within 24 hours of posting it. Scientists are now studying the possibility of whether information can travel faster than the speed of light. Right now, it can't. However, the possibility of superluminal data transfer may be on the horizon. I googled it. And I love puns.
Many companies are now creating jobs for employees who do nothing more than post to social media pages. With just a few clicks on popular review sites, we can make informed decisions based on consumer reviews on just about everything, including where to eat, shop, sleep, play, or seek medical attention. We can even find a date for Saturday night without ever leaving the couch.
With the ability to share information so easily and quickly, we may be in danger of losing the love of exploration. Why try new things when we can just read the reviews?
By now, you may be wondering what this post has to do with mindfulness. As Peter Parker learned, "with great power there must also come great responsibility". We, the People, have the power to influence the opinions and decisions of others with the words we use. Sometimes we use that power to positively describe a product or experience. Many times, we do not. More often than not, we spin a web of negativity around an experience we had.
My general rule of thumb when leaving a review is to remember the advice my mother gave me: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Easier said than done. Every review I've ever left has been a positive one. Until today.
I've been dealing with some issues with my landlord lately about some conditions that have been handled in a way that is unsatisfactory to me. I have been patient for the past week, following all the proper channels to set things right. My efforts have been met with apologies and sympathy, but no attempts to actually fix the problems.
Today, my Tolerance Meter dropped below zero. During the interaction with my landlord, I informed her that I would be leaving a detailed and somewhat unfavorable review on one of the top review sites on the interwebs. As soon as the words left my mouth, something interesting happened.
I witnessed a physical and energetic transformation in the person with whom I was speaking. Her face changed. Her body language shifted. She was no longer meeting me with a stone wall stubbornness. Her eyes got bigger. Her jaw dropped a little. Her shoulders collapsed inward. She was exhibiting physical signs of....fear.
Whoa. I had not raised my voice. I had not used abusive language. I had not threatened bodily harm. I had not cleared the desk with my arm, which is what I really had an urge to do. (Thank you, yoga.) I simply stated that I was unsatisfied and that if the situation was not remedied immediately, I would be posting a negative review on a social media site...or two...or seven.
That's all I had to say. It was in that moment that I realized just how powerful social media really is.
The first thought that entered my mind after watching this woman melt in front of me was: "Don't be a dick." In yoga language, the term is "ahimsa" or non-harm. In other words, my mindfulness skills kicked in, and I reminded myself to display compassion, for myself, the other person, and the situation.
|A good reminder.|
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." - Dalai Lama
I took a deep breath and walked away. I'm making a conscious decision to not post a negative review. In fact, this situation has opened my eyes to the need for more compassion in the world. Posting a negative review will surely impact this business. That will then trickle down and impact the employees and their families. It will, in the end, only make things worse for more people than I can be aware of at this moment.
It is not my intent to cause more suffering in the world. Sure, I'm still a little pissed off, but as long as my issue is fixed in a timely manner, then all my problems go away. How fortunate am I to have only a small problem in this day and age. I am grateful to have a roof over my head and a soft bed to sleep in. So many people do not.
Today, I choose to be more mindful of my social media interactions. I will still post reviews, but only when I have something nice to say. My mindfulness journey is far from over, but my backpack is getting full of the gear I need to make it across the rocky terrain. As I write these words, my issue is being fixed. I feel better already.