I don’t remember the last time we had a post that attempts to string together several semi-coherent thoughts, so it must be time for another one. This one is different from but connected to a few other posts we’ve done, including:
There’s perhaps a certain irony in writing about this topic in a blog post, but as we haven’t actually introduced the topic yet, you may well be wondering what I’m on about… Some at this point will have already checked TL:DR and moved on. For those of you brave readers willing to stay, my thanks. Take my hand and we’ll walk together.
Those who guide me once said:
“Humility isn’t hiding yourself. Humility is honouring yourself.” ~ MNP
Every child who has discovered the right place has known the joy of yelling out something, anything, in order to have their voice echo back to them. It’s thriling. It’s enchanting. It’s even fun. Similarly, narcissism isn’t about admiring one’s reflection. Narcissism crosses the boundary from honest appreciation into obsession. It was once said (about a certain US politician), “The worst thing for (this individual) isn’t negative publicity. The worst thing for (this individual) is no publicity.” And in essence that’s the topic behind this post, and I’m writing it because I’m not completely immune to the effect. Writing in general is speaking into the void; one never knows if there will be an echo.
When we started our foray into social networking 6½ years ago, one thing we discovered very quickly was that there was much, much more content than we could ever consume, and that the amount being generated was growing much faster than we could possibly keep up with. In realizing that we decided not to try. Together we follow less than 200 people on Twitter, and combined we have somewhere around 1200 followers. Our impact on other social networking sites is similar, which in the larger scheme of things is practically non-existent. I must admit I have no idea how people deal with following 50,000 people or more; there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. But in admitting that I’m also aware that keeping up with everything misses the point entirely. It’s not about content: it’s about seeking engagement. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.
In the You Really Like Me post referred to above, we mentioned how we are ubiquitous Fave/Like/+1/RT people with regard to the media content we read. There are two reasons for this. One is that we carefully mediate the content that we receive, and the other is that we enjoy showing our appreciation of such content. We don’t respond to everything, indiscriminately, but we do paint with a broad brush. We do this to share our appreciation – not to be noticed – and to us that’s the key.
In the Free Hugs section of our blog we share our hugging adventures, and we have at times been joined by others. Every person’s experience is different, but we do notice a difference between those like us who are there simply to share joy and those who are looking to receive something from the experience. On a quiet day we can have long lulls between people, and for us that’s okay. We offer but we don’t insist and we don’t demand. People who are interested come to us. For those looking for their own fulfillment from the experience, these lulls can lead to disappointment as there’s no return on their investment of time and energy. There seems to be a continuing and rapidly growing trend in our society for this kind of pushback from others, and often it seems to cross the line from the healthy to the obsessive. As mentioned above, I’m not completely immune to this idea, but I am aware of it.
Marcia’s dad recently turned 93, and in his lifetime we’ve gone from waiting days/weeks/months for a letter to arrive to having virtually instant feedback on everything we do. Our cell phones and tablets can be set to beep/flash/vibrate every time we receive a new post, a new message, a new tweet, and the number of people who sleep with their phones in their hands in case they might miss something is alarming in itself. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. More specifically what I’m looking at is that ‘return on investment’. How many people have engaged with my actions? What’s my reach? And what does that say about me if the numbers are low or non-existent? The correct answer is: nothing. But that doesn’t seem to be the way our society is currently structured. We cross the line (in our estimation) when the response we get to our work from others becomes more important than the work itself. In that event we stop creating for ourselves and shift our thoughts, our words, our art… to what we think other people will like. We lose our own voice, our authenticity in the process. Like any addiction, we lose ourselves into what we think will feed us and what we are left with is a thin veneer.
As mentioned at the top, it’s somewhat ironic that this is being written in a blog post because the network itself invites others to comment if they so desire. Am I writing this for me, or am I writing this to see how you’ll respond? 🙂 We post our writings and images here and on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and our images on sites like Flickr. We share what we do because it’s important to us, and we appreciate it when we receive a response from someone who finds a connection with what we’ve shared, but we do our best not to rely on them. If we did we’d end up second-guessing every word, every sentence. In her book ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’, Annie Dillard wrote, “What if I were to fall in the forest? Would the trees hear? Or even stop to listen?” The question we’re asking here is, “And what would it mean if they don’t?” (We sing to the trees anyway, but that’s a different topic entirely).
Bob Proctor once said, “Most people live their lives the way they think other people think they should live.” There are some seven billion people in the world, and therefore some seven billion responses to that idea. There’s only one person in the world you can change and that person stares back at you from the mirror. There are no rights or wrongs here, but we would suggest there can be health, and balance.
Usually when an idea for a blog post like this sneaks up on me, it cogitates in the back of my mind for a few days before I actually write anything out. Slowly words start to rise out of that ethereal soup, but invariably (and synchronistically), I come across other content that matches the theme to some degree. There were two for this post. The first is about mindfulness and social media and how we might choose to engage: 4 ways to mindfully consume media. The second is a post written by photographer David duChemin: Paying Attention.
However, since this post is primarily about remembering and expressing your own authenticity, I’ll end with the following poem from Jai Michael Josephs:
I Love Myself
I love myself the way I am,
there’s nothing I need to change.
I’ll always be the perfect me,
there’s nothing to rearrange.
I’m beautiful and capable of being
the best me I can.
And I love myself just the way I am
I love you just the way you are,
there’s nothing you need to do.
When I feel the love inside myself,
it’s easy to love you.
Behind your fears, your rage and tears
I see your shining star.
And, I love you just the way you are.
I love the world the way it is,
’cause I can clearly see, that all the things
I judge are done by people just like me.
So ’till the birth of peace on earth,
that only love can bring,
I’ll help it grow by loving everything.
I love myself the way I am,
and still I want to grow.
The change outside can only come,
when deep inside I know,
I’m beautiful and capable of being
the best me I can.
And I love myself just the way I am.
Always remember: Be who you are.
P.S. If you’re looking for media content that can uplift and inspire, you might start with these:
- Charter for Compassion
- Good News, Inspiring, Positive Stories – Good News Network
- Happy News – Positive real-world international stories…
- Ripple Kindness Project
- The Better India – Positive news. Happy Stories. Unsung Heroes.
- Values.com: Inspirational Quotes – Motivational Quotes – Inspirational Stories