My sense is that social media can be a powerful tool for growth. I am all for the call to mindful communication – but only if it still cuts against the grain of relativism and conflict-avoidance that often makes spiritual community so lacking in critical thinking and well reasoned ideas…
So I would say it is important to notice when we are getting emotionally heated and going into ad hominem (attacking the person instead of the ideas.) But rather than the pious restraint that says “oh you can’t do that because it is against the yamas and niyamas” etc, I would say rather that we can mindfully take it as an opportunity to ask – if we are getting reactive and shifting away from considering the ideas being expressed then, hmmm, what is that really about?
Probably a little gem there for each of us each time in terms of becoming aware of our own shadows – but of course we have to be courageous and curious!
The more we practice this kind of awareness the more we can engage in adult conversations with depth and curiosity, even if we are disagreeing – and recognize the difference between someone pointing out the potential problem with certain beliefs or ideas vs attacking you personally as an individual.
I am cautious about the emphasis on “yogic communication” because I think sometimes it is code for the kind of communication we learn in dysfunctional families – like “if you can’t think of anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” My concern is that this can perpetuate denial, inauthenticity and superficiality rather than genuine philosophical inquiry and personal growth.
So, yes to mindfulness and sticking to the point, not attacking with unkindness, but no to butterflies and ponies and smoothing everything over with sugary faux “non-judgment.”
In a free society and in a free press we must feel we can disagree, debate and make strong well-reasoned arguments – as this is a privilege and a massive step up from the religious, political and psychological censorship of previous eras, and which is still in full effect in so many cultures.
In response to Angela Arnett, Jennifer Cusano and Kate Bartolotta’s thoughtful videos, and by request from Jessica Durivage, here are some thoughts inspired by the topic of mindfulness in social media:
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