Each morning I set my intentions for the day. I start by reading these words: “Observe your thoughts, and ask, ‘Are these thoughts coming from the sea of limitation, or the sea of infinite possibilities?’ If they are from limitation, think again.” I don’t know about you, but I need the daily reminder that thoughts are things that influence the actions we take and the life experiences we have. Beliefs we hold set the course of our individual lives as well as the direction of our collective society.
There are many examples of how thoughts create our reality. The political and social polarization in the United States, and in the world for that matter, is a good example. The political and social divide is amplified by the bombardment of information from social media. But, social media platforms are not the problem, per se. Instead, the challenges arise when false information evokes such strong emotional responses that people or groups end up clashing with individuals or institutions believing them to be their mortal enemies. The false stories they believe about one another make it impossible for them to see their similar truths.
Netflix’s docudrama, The Social Dilemma, illustrates how the dissemination of false information, and consumers’ acceptance of it, can have dire consequences for them and our society. The film looks at the meteoric rise and popularity of social media and the damage it has done. The Social Dilemma covers far more topics than I can do justice to in this blog. However, I noted in particular social media's role in politics, how it nurtures addictions, and its impact on mental health.
The Social Dilemma also addresses social media’s contribution to getting people to believe in conspiracy theories (think flat earth believers, Pizzagate, evidence-free claims of massive voter fraud, etc.). When people start believing distorted and erroneous information about others who are different, it creates an “us vs. them” mindset. Taken to an extreme, it can lead to hordes who come together to attack the “others” irrationally believed to be inherently evil. Those who are different then become targets and enemies of the people. Anytime we blindly accept beliefs without any critical examination of their validity, there’s increased potential that these beliefs can unconsciously, and detrimentally, run our lives.
The Social Dilemma film asserts that some folks who run social media platforms strategically seek to rewire the consumers' brains to get and keep their attention or to manipulate them into buying things they do not need. More troubling is that some consumers actually accept social media’s distorted views about the world, themselves, and others. For example, one tactic is to exploit self-worth issues young people have during their vulnerable teen and pre-teen years. Such impressionable users buy into the belief their value correlates to how they physically look or what clothes they wear, how many likes they get for their posts, how many people follow them on social media, and if those followers think well of them or not. If those young people do not meet such made-up benchmarks, many believe they are not good enough. As a result, many youths, particularly young girls, have dramatic increases in anxiety, depression, self-harm, and attempted suicides.
It is essential to teach people how to protect their consciousness and not allow any ole idea to come into their minds. The challenge is that the process is so insidious that we may not know it is taking place. It is like being in “The Matrix” and not knowing we are in it. How do we get out of "The Matrix" if we don't know we are in it? Well, the first thing is to question and challenge our thoughts. As the saying goes, "Don't believe every thought that you think." More importantly, in this age of “spin” we have to question the information that bombards us.
Author Byron Katie suggests that we ask, “Is it true? Can you absolutely know it's true?" By asking ourselves these two questions, we can pause to do our own critical examination before blindly accepting information as truth. We ought to be wary of what shows up as recommendations to read or watch, especially if it only reinforces unchallenged beliefs that are not in our best interest and supports a sense of separation from our fellow human beings. After all, we are One in the Spirit …spiritual beings having a human experience.
In this age of spin, we must beware of what we let into our minds. Or… we can just let go of social media altogether. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "That will never happen!" But it is a thought worth pondering.
Peace and Blessings,