“Don’t let this stop you from reveling in
your own real, hard-won dopeness,
or from believing in yourself…
But does everyone else need to know?
Are you still dope if no one hears you say it?
Our lives have meaning beyond the public gaze. In the intimate spaces that we do not share with the online world is a life on our own terms, in the company of un-Instagrammed friends at un-tweeted gatherings, where we remember that being truly known is reserved for the people who might not even know our Twitter handle.
~ Rebecca Carroll
Without question, our lives do not have to pass the public’s litmus test of “likes,” “shares,” or “Amens” to be full, rich, valued, and meaningful. We all wish to be understood and embraced. To be heard and seen means we have a voice and a visible presence. Together these factors forge the life-affirming human need for connection. With family and friends, being seen, heard, understood and embraced is the grounds for skillful communication and nurturing healthy loving relationships. In community and professional spaces, this is the grounds for expanding one’s opportunities, solidifying partnerships or collaborations, and establishing one’s capacity to contribute in meaningful ways.
In social media? Well, I hold the same questions and frustrations as Ms. Carroll about the trend that conflates self-trumpeting oversharing with being authentic, vulnerable, and transparent. There are many a comment, photo, tweet of mine that have gone unpublished when, pausing to give space for a second thought, I wondered if it was necessary, helpful, true, and kind? Even when my “idea” meets those criteria of skillful communication, the ancient spiritual wisdom frequently prevails. These four gates of speech are the touchstone I use for cultivating skillful communication whether in private personal spaces or the public sphere. To relinquish thoughts, images, perceptions and emotionally-driven ideas is a way of strengthening non-attachment and equanimity.
When a thought is unshakable, I am moved to share. I do so in full recognition that there is power in curating galleries of images that represent our wholeness.
Especially for women of color who advocate holistic health and wellness, mental health awareness, LGBTQ inclusivity, and social justice.
Especially when mainstream media feeds us heaping troughs of deep suffering.
Let us be saavy enough to cut through the false presentations and attention-hungry pretentiousness. Let us commit to skillful communication and check our intentions before we make public record of our mental formations. Let us flood the atmosphere with authenticity, integrity, kindness, and peace. Let us continue to transform social media and reclaim the space to express our wholeness, vitality, beauty and joy.
Read Rebecca Carroll’s full article, “The Digital Wellness Charade,” on TheGuardian.com.