Although what I’ve been seeing and hearing is nothing new – it does seem to be ramping up.
A hostility – a challenge – in the posters words that eliminates the space for discussion or questions, and yet telling you nothing about the person’s personal experience with it.
I know you have seen them. The posts are generally short and end with a “f**k you if you don’t like it” tone. They state a practice they are adopting or have been doing, with absolutely no context of why they are doing it or what their experience is with it, and end the post in an angry way challenging people to say anything negative about it. These types of posts seem to be ramping up across several social media platforms and my question here isn’t even my usual “Why?” but has turned more to “How” – How we are sharing and How is that affecting the conversation.
I’ll give a quick example : Someone posts something like this “I am veiling as part of my practice and if you don’t like it you can f**k off and see your way out.” To me this is a way to stir up discord, not conversation. It’s challenging people to be negative and gives no context to the person’s experience. It leaves no room for discussion on the practice or gives me any clues as to what the person’s experience with it has been. So what was the point of sharing? What were they hoping to gain from it? Do they feel they achieved their goals?
Perhaps it is just me – so please understand what I am saying is from my perspective, the reasons I share, and the modes I choose to do that in – but if I’m sharing it is for one of 3 reasons.
- To get people to think in, or consider, different perspectives.
- To start a conversation and gather different views of the subject material from others. To hear their experiences, perspectives, and ideas.
- Just to share my own personal experiences because sometimes they do help inspire others or resonate with them (especially on subjects I see differently than the mainstream community) – making them feel a little less alone.
Perhaps it is the reason behind WHY I share, that formulates HOW I share.
I want discussions and to hear other perspectives – especially if they differ from me. So I try to write and post in a way that invites others to come in and participate. Giving them space to share their own views and experiences.
I grow and learn from others all the time. Some things will not change for me personally just because someone disagrees with an aspect I am talking about – but being aware of those different views allows me to approach the matter with more compassion when talking with others. This is important to me.
A good example of this was a post I recently made about the title Priestess and what that role really is. Now I will stand by the majority of all I said because the responsibilities of that title are real. I will however say that the specific actions – especially with the “community” component – was a very narrow view of my own work and responsibilities my Goddess demands of me. A good friend (Nichole) pointed out in the comments that there have been various types of Priestesses in history that had other responsibilities such as Temple Priestess whose role had nothing to do with the community directly, but still a sacred service to their Deity. She is right and I am not above saying when I am in the wrong. I realize that the specific work I spoke of was for those who, like me, have a very specific community component, and did not leave any room for the other roles that could be played by a Priestess. I wouldn’t have even reflected on that post afterwards if it wasn’t for her giving another perspective. Because she did though – it has caused a lot of reflection on the matter.
So down to the real question of “How” we share… and I suppose it is rooted in the “why”.
We share for a purpose. If it is coming from a place of negative ego – to boost ourselves – or to create discord within a community then the whole attitude of making a statement like the one at the very beginning of the post is right in line with that. It tells nothing of your own beliefs, why you are trying something, or what your experience is. It is just a statement that does not invite others to share their own thoughts and experiences. It actively discourages any discussion at all.
I do wonder how we got here though. Where so many posts, in so many places, are taking the same aggressive tone, completely shutting down any sharing of personal experience, and shutting out any other view than that of the poster.
Is it because the idea of personal experience itself has been cast down as unimportant in certain circles of our community – the loud ones?
Is it because there are so many people over the last few years that have taken activism over the cliff and are trying to insert “rules” and “standards” all over the place, as if we were all one unified organized religion?
Is it because of this whole mentality of “you are either completely with us in all we say or you are the enemy” that seems to be growing online in all areas?
All of these issues have created a very hostile environment online. A tool that has granted us access to more information than we could have even dreamed of a couple of decades ago, a variety of different viewpoints and experiences, and possibility of connecting with others all over the world and seeing how they approach things – is the same tool that has allowed this destructive discord to run rampant in our community. The determining factor – “How” we choose to use it.
This post will not change anything in itself. It will not solve the problems I am seeing. The only thing that can change that is the people themselves, and I have no control over others and neither do you. My only hope in sharing this is that those who read it at least consider these points. Perhaps it makes some think about the reason “why” behind the “how” of their sharing. What they are hoping to accomplish and reflection on if their current approach is giving them that outcome.
Some people are just angry and like drama – some even thrive on it. I’m not going to get it because I honestly do not understand it. Life has enough drama imo on its own and I do not feel a need to add any more. It can be easy to get caught in the drama and arguments – and sometimes it is necessary – but most times it just isn’t. A lesson my Goddess is constantly drilling into me “Not all battles are worth fighting – many you just need to walk away from”.
I do worry about two things though with this trending way of sharing.
- It is making an environment that others are afraid to share their personal experiences in. Our personal experiences should be the most important to us – It is what we are experiencing and that is what is shaping our own personal beliefs and rules. It is also what inspires others to try new things, experiment, and consider other viewpoints which makes us more knowledgeable and compassionate as people.
- It is creating the same trap that organized religions provide. Where you are just following another, never making your own true connections to the divine and the world around you. Keeping you on the surface of what is really there or possible. Just going through the motions.
I can’t change the world. I can’t change what is happening. I can however make a small space in it that allows others to explore, to share, and maybe even inspire them at times. Where they can just be their authentic self, no masks, no pretending to fit in – just a place to be them. So that is what I try to do. I am not perfect. I will falter just as I did with the Priestess post. I will not give up though, and I will own my many faults, because I am human, with a limited scope of perspective, and I know – “that I only know what I know – and that there is much I do not know” … there is wisdom in that.
So I am encouraging everyone who reads this to share your own experiences, the why’s behind what you chose to do or believe, inspire others, and do it in a way that invites others into the conversation and not shut them down.