October 15, 2009

Elephantjournal Has a New Look; But Is It Mindful?

Full disclosure: this post was not my idea originally, it was my wife’s, you know, the poetical, lovely Joana Smith. Well, the post part wasn’t really her idea, but the topic is all her. Admittedly, this may be something I’m not as sensitive to as her. Basically she complains loudly pretty much every time she sees the new elephant site. Her problem is that she can’t bring herself to post her lovely, sweet little posts on a site where the top row of tabs include $$$ and  SEXXXY, and where the all-time most popular posts include Naked Yoga, Now That’s Hot Yoga and NSFW Is Tantra All About Sex? XXX. (Believe me, I understand the irony of linking these here…)

“Is this some kind of smut rag?!” Joana howls. “Are we trying to be the green, mindful blog for frat boys?!”

To be fair, if you actually click on these links, you won’t find smut, you won’t find “greed is good” ideology, even the NSFW stuff would be safe for television commercials in Europe. But I think the worry is worth our while. After all, elephantjournal has been doing some fairly open and public soul searching. What is elephant about anyway? Sure, in the immortal words of Trekkie Monster, “The internet is for porn.” But shouldn’t we, mindful people, try to create an oasis free of all that? Shouldn’t elephant aspire for more, for a renewal of faith, respect, interpersonal communication, and peace? Is that really compatible with wallowing in the worst of what the internet has to offer?

Waylon has often talked about wanting to do for sustainability, peace, and green what Jon Stewart has done for politics. I love Jon Stewart, but he’s a comedian who fills a good bit his airtime with the usual potty humor, jokes about masturbation, etc. Is that where elephant is going? If so, would it be wrong?

What is mindfulness all about anyway? Isn’t it about recognizing feeling as feeling, emotion as emotion, perception as perception. If this stuff is all out there to be seen, and these emotions are to be felt, then it wouldn’t be mindful to stick our heads in the sand. When the Karmapa talks about video games as a way to relieve stress and as a “skillful method” or “skillful means” is there an analogy to be made here?

And elephant is supposed to fun, right? So if we get all puritanical aren’t we going to kill the thing before it even has a chance to get going?

But when we make this a pretty visible part of the site, are we part of the cure or are we part of the disease? You tell me.

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