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Maybe you’ve noticed that a scroll through social media these days is like taking a detour through a dark forest.
It’s best not to go in there unguarded.
As someone who makes a living teaching people how to get along, I have to admit it’s been eye-opening to see how triggered we’ve become (myself included) and particularly as it relates to a certain presidential campaign.
Yes, I know you’re tired of hearing about politics but stay with me for a moment while we take a look at the bigger picture of what’s happening here. Otherwise, we’ll keep replaying the worst of ourselves through every election cycle.
I’ve written before about how our society has become addicted to outrage, furiously sharing the latest inflammatory headlines that only serve to divide us. And if social media is the amplifier of personality, it’s clear that we are angry – but what’s not always so clear is that anger is a form of anxiety.
In other words, anger is an expression of fear.
The heated rhetoric we hear all around us – both online and off – comes from the underlying fear that things we value will be taken away. Perhaps recognizing that those who inflame us the most are also afraid would get us closer to viewing them as real human beings rather than avatars on a screen.
Somewhere along the way, it seems, we’ve forgotten how to do this.
Instead, we meticulously curate our friends and our news in a way that creates an echo chamber for our own opinions – and then we proceed to bulldoze those opinions over anyone who dares to disagree with us while at the same time complaining that our culture is “toxic.”
To get out of this place we must first recognize our role in creating it. We must recognize that we’ve tried to beat each other into submission with our views rather than appreciating the fundamental truth that you can’t change what you can’t love.
On November 9th, those of us in the United States are going to wake up to a new president-elect and, regardless of the outcome, we are going to need one another for the shared work of rebuilding the trust that has been eroded on all sides.
To do this, we must not be afraid to share our views but – at the same time – we cannot keep filling our minds and our feeds with this level of fear. It is not only unsustainable but – despite our best efforts – it is also ineffective.
Love is the only power that ultimately changes behavior because it’s the only power that changes the heart.
So let’s try that instead, shall we?