Social media is the only place, it is the only context in which we have allowed ourselves to believe that we have the right to not just bang on someone's door and harass them, but break in to their home, assault them with our words and believe that it is our right to do so.
It is now the culture to say whatever you're thinking, irregardless of what that does to the person on the other side of these "opinions". This is disastrous for so many reasons, and that is what I want to explore here today.
Movements, activism, advocacy all start on the internet right now. Anything we do that is effectively run, that sees the impact, that causes the kerfuffle, that makes so much noise we have no choice but to respond, starts on the internet. Good and bad. We can create a new and better system, if we are willing to use our influence and social media for good.
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Angel Phoenix Arsenal: Social media is the only place in the world, it is the only context in which we have allowed ourselves to believe that we have the right, to not just bang on someone's door and harass them but break into their home, assault them with our words, and believe that it is our right to do so because free speech, because free will, and because everybody has an opinion.
If we looked at the ways so many of us utilize social media, now remember, 90% of people using social media are using it to consume, 10% are sometimes sharing and sometimes commenting, and then 1% are creating content, so let's just split those stats here with you.
If we look at it this way, we are talking about 90% of social media users, people who are using the internet on their phones have decided that it is now the culture to say whatever it is you're thinking regardless of what cost that comes out to the other person on the other side of that exchange, which is not an exchange really, it's an imposition, it's a production. This is just disastrous for so many reasons, and that's really what I want to touch base on today. That is that. We are in a time where the standards, where the socially accepted "norms" that we live in our lives are actually established first within the visual, audio, technological mediums and interfaces that we are consuming first.
It is via that interaction with those mediums and that technology over time that we slowly condition ourselves and each other to believe that said thing we are participating in is now the norm. We bring that norm into real life and we see our physical lives and our digital lives become interwoven as one. Let me give you an example. Movements, activism, advocacy, huge political movements, shifts all start on the internet right now. Anything we do that is effectively run that sees the impact that causes the kerfuffle, that makes so much noise we have absolutely no choice but to respond and act accordingly starts on the internet. Good and bad.
It's easy to look at social media and think that social media is the Antichrist, but I'm here to tell you that social media is the antidote. We used to live in a world where everything we did on the outside dictated what we did in the inside of our offices, at our computer, in our journals or notebooks, it's no longer that way anymore. We're spending upwards of nine hours a day on the internet. There are some countries right now seeing a 99% penetration rate on social media use.
This is the landscape that we are operating in right now, and because so many of us are spending the bulk of our time sleeping in on social media, we are growing, becoming, being, evolving or getting stuck based on what it is we do when we use social media. Therefore, for our children, who must be literate in the landscape, keeping them from social media is not going to do them any service, but if they're young and they're growing up using these platforms, and they first learn to bully or be bullied based on their use in social media, it will happen long enough for them to bring it to the real world and quite confidently make it a reality there.
We have to be careful because this is a slippery fucking slope. Just because you have an opinion, just because the internet and social media is quite conveniently laid out for you to share that opinion at any moment of any day with anyone doesn't mean that you have any business sharing that opinion. I'm going to take it a step further and say any right sharing that opinion. Just because it is now safer and feels more anonymous, and it feels less guilty while we attack someone from behind a screen or a mobile phone or a keyboard, it does not mean that it is not bullying, abuse, assault, et cetera.
We live in a culture of comments on The Daily Mail, tirades, and Facebook threads. In a culture where trolls, stalkers, individuals who pathologically consume social media who literally are so bored with their lives that they spend their time looking for ways to change other people's minds or that's what they would call it. Really what they're doing is just spending so much time and so much effort on making other people's lives hell. They're so obsessed with trying to sound right in their quest of trying to prove people wrong, and they're so hell-bent on being heard, and they're so obsessed with this idea that because free speech that they should be allowed to say anything it is they want to say.
We're looking at the normalization of verbal assault. I remember that when I was young, one of the first things anyone ever told me was, "Every time somebody bullies you, I want you to say, 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.'" I look at that quote in hindsight and I say that's a fucking crock of shit because sticks and stones do break the bones. We know that physical assault and injury hurts. In some instances has long recovery periods or maybe something just doesn't heal or go back to what it used to be, but the body is intelligent and it does heal. It's the words, it is the wounds on the inside that fester, that destroy.
I wish that somebody would have had the conversation with me that in the future one day, words will be weapons, and World War III will not come in tanks, a lot of bombs, big noises, the obliteration of countries, that it would come, in my opinion, in the ways that we ruthlessly launch words from our cannon of defensiveness of reactiveness. Some of the biggest issues on this planet can be really down to the fact that people believe that it is their right to own a gun.
They don't care who gets shot down in the process because it's their right, and while words are just as bad because we've convinced ourselves that saying what it is we want to say regardless of how it affects people around us is okay because it's our right. How nauseating. My social media is something that I utilize very intentionally, quite schematically. It's somewhere that I show up and I share honestly. Honestly speaking, most of the time, I actually don't remember what I've written where I do, I just show up and I treat it like my diary and I have complete faith that it is as impactful as it is, for me, for everybody else. It's cathartic for me, which means it's got to be cathartic for somebody else.
Nobody pays me to do that, I show up, and I do it, and I do it for free. Nobody pays me to do that, and yet you have people who rock up to my page, to other people's pages, so many of my friends, so many of my colleagues, and they have an opinion on everything. They don't care how it affects you, they don't care that they're so obliviously wrong about what it is they're saying. They don't care about who gets caught in the crossfire. They don't care about my audience who might be affected by the words that they say, they don't care, and they show up there for free.
They don't got to pay to participate, they just rock up, and they rock up and the door of my house is open because I'm hospitable enough and generous enough to leave that door open and they believe that it is okay to walk into that church and piss on the pews and burn the Bible in the church of me because, hey, they've got an opinion. If you walked into any church and did those things, it'd be blasphemous, baby. You would be put in jail for vandalizing, for doing terrible things in that holy place. Let me tell you that there are consequences to doing those things in that holy place.
Social media is the one piece of real estate. I am dead set on owning, preserving, and maintaining in a way where it feels good for me always because it is my church, layer upon layer of holy things in that place. Do not show up to something for free and expect me to be okay with the ways that you stain the gift you've been given.
Every time that you feel tempted to scroll on over passive-aggressively, aggressively or maybe totally obliviously to somebody page to leave a comment after you have been triggered or frustrated or just because you are bored and you want to feel enthralled in some level of drama or online theatrics, I really truly want you to ask yourself, "Is what I'm about to contribute relevant or aligned with a greater good? Is what I am about to say going to possibly negatively impact someone in a way where they might spiral, in a way where they might not be able to go home and take care of their kids properly or their pets or work or a function?
Am I aware of someone's mental health issues, am I considering their possible mental health issues?" I want you to think about the things your parents would say when they say, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all." I want you to think about if you're walking down the street, walking in a public place and out of nowhere someone jumps in front of you and starts to berate you about your clothing, your hair, your makeup, what you look like, what you smell like, assumptions, misunderstandings, et cetera, how would you react to that person?
I want you to think about you're going to Christmas at your in-laws or with your family, and somebody within your family or extended family deems it appropriate to impose their beliefs, project their bullshit, they absolutely hinge on your experience, they make you think twice about yourself. What would you do at that moment in time? How would you react? How would that make you feel? How would it feel if somebody broke into your home and forced you to give them your time, your money or your happiness, which we could metaphorically use to replace the physical goods that a robber or trespasser would typically take? How would they make you feel? Terrified?
Nobody on this planet has the right to make somebody else feel unsafe in the name of opinion sharing. There are seven billion-plus people counting, and believe me when I say that, yes, I am all for the right to communicate, and be heard, and be seen, but there is a process in which you earn that right. We are not all born with a God-given right to be heard. That is a lie and that is precisely the reason that we have the politicians we have in place. The systems that we have in place. The hierarchies that we have in place.
Riddle me this, if your politics, politicians, governments, systems, hierarchies, all of the people at the very top who have very strong opinions, if those people are literally creating agendas based on their belief that they know everything and that they have an opinion and it is making your life miserable, it's making it harder, what in the world allows you to believe that mirroring the same exact behaviour from the people who are making your life hard is going to be the right way forward? There are a lot of people who like to consider themselves intelligent in this world. There are a lot of people who like to consider themselves intellectual.
There are a lot of people who believe that what they say is right, and in a world and a culture where we are more invested in this idea of right or wrong, of who is the superhero and who is the villain, and as Charles Eisenstein discusses, this like sick twisted codependency, where the superhero could not exist without that villain and that villain could not exist without that superhero and all of the ways that trolls and genuinely good people and social media are intertwined in a way that is absolutely twisted. There is really fairgrounds to consider how it is we are going to change our culture moving forward by first looking at the ways our culture operates on the internet.
We create norms in the quietest places of our lives. At this moment in time, 2019, 2020, the quietest places in our lives, these are used on social media. It is our addiction, it is our compulsion, it is our belief that the world is going to shit because of social media, but what a scapegoat, my friends, because it could be medicine. If we first checked in with ourselves, it's not the gun that kills people, it's the people holding those guns, and it ain't social media ruining the world or making us disconnected or making us feel awkward socially, yadda, yadda, yadda, it is the individuals using it.
It's not money or capitalism that is the reason the world is where it is, it is the people who are refusing to earn it as a boycott, as a protest, as a nondesire to want to be like the fucking assholes at the top. It is the people who are earning, and spending, and doing whatever it is they want to do, greedy, hoarding wealth, fucking the world up, those people directly intertwined with each other like a superhero and a villain. All of these polarizing, divisive conversations that keep us fighting each other instead of joining forces, as Rick Grimes would say, "Live together, die alone."
It is how we stop with this codependent, toxic, poisonous polarity in the name of having an opinion, in the name of being right, in the name of continuously wasting the breath that we have when we know that tomorrow we might not wake up. Wasting those breaths on making other people feel bad on the internet so we can feel better about ourselves is the definition of narcissistic and sociopathic social media use. I discussed this in another podcast episode and I certainly encourage you to listen to that one as well. I believe that right now, at this moment in time, we can use social media as medicine. Influencers are the new leaders.
You no longer require anything else but yourself and your real persistent conviction to being whole and being heard, to be a profit, and that scares the shit out of the system.
What is more terrifying to me in all the systems that I move within, and all of the corruption, and all of the greed, all the sadness, all of the brutality, all of the injustice, do you know what really crushes me? The soldiers on the same side of the fence fighting the same wars in a rabid fit turning around and turning on each other, slaughtering each other before they even make it to the front lines of whatever revolution fight, the war they were marching towards that side.
I really, really want to encourage every single person who is on Instagram, on podcast, using YouTube, whatever it is that you're doing at this moment in time to show up online and in exchange, interact, engage whatever it might be, I want you to really consciously think about what it is you are saying, what it is you're doing, and whether you are adding amazing energy into what it is we're trying to weave or if you're taking away from that.
I always tell my students, particularly those who are moving towards coaching, or consulting, or helping other people to any degree, and I always say, "Listen, when you feel like you want to say something in response, particularly, because in responsiveness, we have the bulk of that aggressive reactiveness. When you feel like you want to say something in response, let the words sit in your throat for 30 seconds before you spit them out."
Let them sit there and you'll see that often before 30 seconds and 30 breaths, you'll really start to consider the repercussion of what it is you're going to say, and you will choose to swallow the words and perhaps reframe them, reword whatever it might be or not say anything at all. That is another exercise that I really want to impart on you today. Before you say anything at all, let it sit in your throat, rethink about how would it feel if somebody said this to me. Then lastly, I want to say that everybody has got an opinion like everybody has got an asshole. Just because we all have got the thing like a mouth, or a brain, or has that shit, it does not mean that we should be shitting on everyone's doorstep.
We're trespassing into the lives of people who are brave enough to show up when it is grossly unsafe to do so in the public eye and we are deeming it ethical to throw eggs at the door, to shit on the doorstep, to vandalize their home, and we are creating a culture that is actually enabling this to move forward when we call it opinion. Opinions do not change the world. Remember, the irony in this is that those with the most heated opinions are absolutely shocking when it comes to being on the receiving end of opinions.
If you're terrible at getting some level of criticism or opinion, and you are really good at giving out criticism and opinions, chances are that you have got some checking in to do, and unless you are somebody that I've paid to give me criticism and an opinion because I respect you, and I love you, and I admire you, and I honour you, and I want to know the things you know, I do not want to hear anything it is that you have to say about what it is I do because the source of the message is coming from a place that I do not respect, and that is my right protect the church and the relics living inside of me that need to be protected, that need to be preserved.
It is my right to be vigilant and super diligent about what I share and what I don't share or what I accept what I don't accept because that will add to the longevity of what it is I do instead of taking away. When you look at people online and you feel that it is within your right to tear down a celebrity, for example, that is another key indication that you have some checking in to do. My love life does not exist in a vacuum. People are not in bubbles.
People like me, other content creators, speakers, teachers, public profile people, whoever it is, they are not the ants sizzling under the magnifying glass of a hormonal, emotionally unattached, unaware, frightened little child who wants to play God and does not care who they takedown. I do not exist to be the ant to your experiment. I do not exist to indulge your desires to play God. Your opinions burn people and your words are weapons.
If there are things that I'm going to teach my children in this world, amidst a lot of them, and the legacy I teach my children is if you are not actively, consciously, and very intentionally participating in conversations and exchanges that not only leave you feeling re-energized by re-energize the people around you or the person you're participating in that with, then that is not a conversation for you to be having. It's just not and unless your opinion is going to change the world, don't speak it. The best activism, and the best advocacy, and the best game-changing does not come from opinions, it comes from a knowing, and truths, inner truths, self truths, those are not opinions, those are gospel.
Non-truths, presumption, assumption, projection, that's an opinion, and an opinion is the pathetic wannabe excommunicated sibling to what truth and knowledge is. The sooner we start to focus on self-excavation and understanding our own truth and being our own true self, the sooner we can stop wasting time trying to be the magnifying glass to the person who is just trying to get by.