Social Media and the Power of No Response

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As spiritual people who want to change the world for the better, we may feel emotionally distressed by some of the hurtful posts and comments we see on social media. We may feel an overwhelming urge to respond to them.

We may even feel duty-bound to “set these people straight.”

I admit that on more than one occasion, I have gotten riled up and sucked into conversations with people on social media. Each time, the conversation consumed my energy, destroyed my peace, and didn’t do much at all to set them straight. Now, I believe the best way to respond to a post or comment that upsets us is to not respond at all – to pretend that it isn’t even there.

There is great power in not responding. You see, on social media, people get a high from reactions and comments. Many enjoy a power trip from making people angry. Some may not even believe the stuff they are spewing. They just want a reaction. If we don’t give them what they want, they go away.

I’ve seen many positive, peaceful conversations with a negative or snide comment in the feed, and I absolutely love it when that comment is completely ignored by everyone involved in the conversation like it wasn’t even there. The remark isn’t even given the dignity of a reaction emoji.

That is the most powerful troll repellant there is.

If someone you care about was the target of an offensive post or comment, just post a comment to your friend loaded with lots of unconditional love and support. Don’t make any references to the offensive post; remember, it’s invisible!

We must be very careful not to be deceived by the ego. We are not being loving to ourselves or anyone else by trying to force our point of view on people before they are willing to consider it; we are unwittingly playing the “power game” just like they are. And since we are nicer people, we will probably lose.

It’s best to save our “pearls of wisdom” for those who actively seek them out. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.”

If we feel upset about a post or comment directed toward us, it’s best to go within and ask ourselves what it is about the post or comment that is upsetting us. If it has struck a nerve in us, then there is a belief within us that needs to be healed. The post or comment may have triggered the thought, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” or “You’re not good enough,” or “Your feelings aren’t important.”

Thoughts like these and the strong feelings they generate are usually not about the perfect stranger who made the post or comment. They are reminders of messages we have gotten from someone from our past, and they were not true about us. They were lies then, and they are lies now.

Rather than trying to “set straight” the individual who made the hurtful post or comment, we can use it as a wonderful opportunity to go within, become aware of the old programming that has triggered pain within us, and give ourselves lots of unconditional love and support.

We might say to ourselves, “I am safe and loved,” or “I am good enough just as I am,” or “I am allowed to feel whatever I feel, and it’s always important.” In this way, we set ourselves straight and deepen our own peace of mind and heart in the process.

That is a far wiser and more productive use of our time and energy.

Junk News Causes Spiritual Indigestion

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If you feel angry, anxious, or depressed while watching, reading, or listening to the news, you might be suffering from spiritual indigestion. Just as consuming junk food is bad for our physical health, junk news is bad for our spiritual health. Therefore, we must develop a more refined taste for the news.

Junk news contains artificial ingredients. The first one is bias. Not all media companies care to uphold the journalistic objectivity standard. Some companies slant the news any way they can to conform as closely as possible to the worldview of their audiences.

Those who watch Fox News and MSNBC are presented with very different versions of the same news. This has helped to fan the flames of discord in our country because viewers of both networks insist that their notion of what’s happening in the world is correct because they heard it on the news.

But it wasn’t really the news; it was their news. It was news spun to correspond to the perceptions of a certain crowd, not to correspond with reality. We love junk news as much as we love junk food. It tastes so good! That’s because the ego loves to be right. The truth is that the clear lines drawn between the villains and the heroes are – in reality – not that clear.

This truth makes us very uncomfortable, but we must face the discomfort. We must insist upon news that is presented as objectively as possible not only to avoid spiritual indigestion, but also to decrease disunity and to increase our ability to make informed, rational decisions in our democracy.

The second artificial ingredient in junk news is melodrama. Melodrama adds emotional “spice” to news stories to keep people tuning in. The most popular spice is fear. Fear not only boosts ratings by keeping us tuned in, but it also keeps us stressed out, which makes us far easier to manipulate and control.

The constant bombardment of melodramatic news has unfortunately trained us well to apply spice to the events of our own lives, creating a society filled with Drama Kings and Drama Queens.

How do we refine our news consumption? First, we can consume more unbiased news. To indulge the ego’s desire for biased news causes it to become inflated, and we certainly don’t need more inflated egos in our society.

While complete objectivity is impossible, that’s no reason to throw objectivity to the wind. Fortunately, there are news outlets that do their best to uphold journalistic objectivity, such as the Washington Post and BBC.

Second, if we’re feeling angry, anxious, or depressed, the news might be too spicy. I find that a good way to avoid the spice is to simply read the headlines. I get enough information from just the headlines to keep informed well enough to praise God for the good news and to pray about the bad news and for those who are suffering.

Junk news isn’t all we have to be concerned about. These days, there’s also fake news, which is even worse for our spiritual health. The spread of fake news makes refining our tastes even more important.

Fortunately, people are getting sick and tired of their spirits being sick and tired. People are becoming more aware of junk news and fake news, and they are choosing spiritually healthier news, which can only lead to a spiritually healthier society in the future.