Brandie Hadfield Drinking Coffee Overlooking A Balcony

Social Media: A Curse and a Blessing

It is a curse because you cannot control how your message will be received and by whom.

For me, you can usually tell when shit has hit the fan because I won’t post. During intense periods of grief, an upset, a set-back, an upheaval, I won’t post.

I am going to avoid that now. No more hiding when the going gets tough.

I AM positive, optimistic, authentic and resilient. So I will not act (or fail to act) for fear of judgement.

I have spoken before about how the human brain is addicted to stories. Our dopamine rush from stitching limited information together to create a story is why social media is so popular.

The issue with all this time viewing others from the limited view of Facebook and Instagram, is that limited insight into someone’s life is being mishandled. People will project, gossip, judge and hurt.

People with power to negatively impact another person’s life will wield their swords based on fiction that their own minds have assumed as FACT. The dopamine rush is temporary though, and thus a negative cycle is perpetuated.

I used to teach this in my HR days, the art of great leadership through have the courage to hold tough conversations. It takes a great deal of courage to challenge your own patterns and openly admit you DON’T know what you don’t know.

I have had the most unbelievable things said and done to me throughout the course of my presence on social media, and I have even longed to disappear. I have wondered, “would I be happier if I could just escape this world”?

I know in my heart that would be the easy way, but not easy over the long haul. Conforming, denial and abstinence lead to regret, bitterness and resentment. No thank you.

It has been *social media* through which I have been able to create an online career. I have positively impacted countless lives around the world. I can access thousands of people from my phone, thanks to social media. I can do all of my work with my kids by my side, thanks to the digital world.

I can be creative, I can inspire, educate and empower. I can HELP on a scale beyond what is possible in a brick and mortar capacity.

You could say I have lost family and friends and community due to social media. That is really f’d up, but it’s not truly the sosh that is to blame. It is this story-telling, persistent judging and assuming like you are having some digital version of road rage at another human being.

The lesson to be learned is not to run and hide and be scared to share your unique light. Don’t avoid the road because someone else in their vehicle might hate you for missing the turn.

The lesson is to appreciate the great necessity, the *increased necessity* for CURIOSITY over accusation. The increased necessity to challenge our own assumptions, and assume positive intent.

We need to inquire, we need to converse, we need to try on different lenses rather than be stifled and stymied by our own.

We need to acknowledge that we do not have access to 90% of someone’s life, and therefore assumptions are ignorance.

Assumptions will suck the joy right out of your life. It blocks potential and possibility. It isolates and stagnates your growth. It keeps you stuck and gives you a false sense of control.

Are you picking up what I am putting down?

To break the cycle, recognize the holes in your story and inquire directly to the source. Start with your heart in the right place, assuming positive intent and appreciating that you DON’T know everything. Ask good questions:

  • What FACTS do I have?
  • What is another way to view this?
  • Is this my opinion or someone else’s opinion I have adopted?
  • Is this assumption serving me (or draining me)?
  • Where are the gaps in my knowledge of this situation?
  • How can this person be hurt due to my acting on negative assumptions/judgements? Who else might be hurt in the process?
  • Is the potential pain I can inflict on this person worth it to justify my story? 
  • How much of a role is ego playing in all of this?

This is the message I have for you who has read this far. 
A photograph that is appropo, because if you zoom in, you may see, yes, that is a piece of bird shit to my right.

That’s lucky, right? 😉 A matter of perspective I suppose.

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