EXPRESSION AND SOCIAL MEDIA
What a season this has been. Especially these last few weeks. It seems as if the world is falling down around our feet.
Murder, war, protests and discrimination of every kind are splashed across the news feeds I take in and it’s becoming harder and harder to keep a level head and not explode into a torrent of rage, sadness and confusion.
But I’ve tried.
I’ve created a social media blackout for myself the past two weeks, at least when it comes to commenting on these current events, because I want to take the time to properly consider these things in the quiet of my own heart. What does all of this mean? Why does it bother me? What about it bothers me? Am I being objective? Am I considering both sides of the story and coming up with the best interpretation of the truth for myself? Can I calmly express myself without veering into the inflammatory when it’s not appropriate?
It’s that last bit that is holding me back. Am I the only one with this problem?
I read this post by Kate and it’s been weighing in on this decision to hold back my thoughts until the time is right. She’s writing more about how we process grief in our modern age of social media, but the part where she speaks about how we seem to have lost the ability to mourn in silence, to consider things in our own hearts without spilling our opinions of the situation all over our Facebook walls and Twitter feeds without knowing the whole story, hit home.
I wrote the most appropriate memorial post to Robin Williams that I could the day after news broke of his death. Like most others my age, I grew up hearing his voice and seeing his movies. He held a special place for me because he looks so much like my own father. Watching him on screen held another dimension for me for that reason. As one who struggles daily with clinical depression, I understood the challenge he was facing, and the choice he ultimately made. I too made such a choice once, in my situation, I was able to be pulled back from the brink by others who found me. It was a profound season in my life, and one that has shaped the way I interpret this sort of situation when it comes to others. I wrote about how Mr. Williams helped shape the way I view literature and the world through playing Mr. Keating in ‘The Dead Poets Society’. I wrote about how I remember his voice and words and how the decision he made was a brave one. A choice that he made that he felt was best for him. I then read the awful messages that were sent to me by people I know and know only by association. I was selfish, I was advocating self-harm, I was glorifying a coward, and on, and on, and on.
Of course I wasn’t saying such things. But why is my expression less than others? Why are my thoughts up for debate?
As all of the anger in Ferguson, MO, the violence in Gaza and the death caused by IS in Iraq and Syria roll across my screen, I want to react. I want to scream that murder has be committed. That extremists are oppressing innocent people and aren’t representing the true voice of their religion. I want to beg for peace, to beg for calm and consideration. I want to beg for quiet and debate.
And yet I don’t.
Just not yet.
I want to take the time to collect my thoughts into a coherent argument. I want to take the time to consider what is happening around me in the silence of my own heart. I want to, as Kate suggested, mourn in silence and speak when my voice is steady and carefully considered. I want the words that I express to be meaningful and thoughtful.
So I wait. I mourn in silence. I send peace and calm and patience to the family of Mike Brown. To the family of James Foley. To the people of Ferguson and the people of Gaza and Iraq. I send strength and discernment as well. Discernment for my fellow observers so that when we take in these events, that we take the time to understand and not just react. Discernment so that when we do finally put pen to paper, as it were, that what flows from us is not from the ugliness of our prejudice and privilege, but the understanding of our humanness.
Because at the end of the day, that is the one thing that we all share, and the one thing that makes us extraordinary.
(Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)