Missives to the children I am yet to bear.
I don’t know what social media will be like when you’re old enough to set up your own profiles. I have a utopian vision of the entire infrastructure imploding, with only true and intimate connections surviving the fallout. I am not totally averse to the connected world that brought me your father and so many dear friends. It’s that as I get older, I crave the pure silence of the canyons and the wadis where the stillness is so thick and encompassing, one is able to hear all of time whisper to the soul. I try to seek out that silence by way of meditation; in washing dishes, in games of Freecell, in disconnecting from news feeds and online chatter. In that quiet, all my thinking expands and boomerangs. I find pause. I learn to listen.
You must always be able to hear yourself.
And when I do plug into the lives of others, I proffer the acknowledgements allowed for by the platform; liking, commenting, hearting, in all the ways we have to say, “Yes, you are here. I have noticed you in this crowd.” We share and we receive. We hear and we want to be heard. In that lies a trial. For with the beautiful and benign, there will also lurk the reptilian-minded urge to police each other, to want to dictate to others what they should believe and what they should care about. It’s seductive and when it’s done, you will feel like a giant tramping across the countryside, admiring the deep impressions created in your wake. But I’d rather you not be the kind of person who gets told, “ooh, looks like you were awarded all the tenders God issued when divine judgement was being outsourced.”
It’s important that you have strong opinions; about justice, mercy and the well-being of others. I pray that you are never gagged by fear, that you always speak straight from your heart. And when you do, I want you to ask yourself the following questions before you share that passion on social media;
Am I speaking from a place of sincerity? Have I really listened to myself?
What is the intention behind this update?
Am I posting this to further a cause or to influence the perception others have of me?
Will what I have to say effect change?
Am I adding anything new to the existing discourse?
Am I shouting into the crowd when I could be whispering into the ear of the person this is directed at?
Who will be affected by what I have to say?
Is there even the tiniest chance that my words will be received as being unfair or unkind?
If I were to step away from my device for an hour, and then return to it, will I still want to say this?
If these interrogations leave you uncertain, seek out the silence. Consider your place in the universe as a human being. Calculate the value of that opinion. Listen.