Friday, July 20, 2012

May I Have Your Attention

“If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything, never become anything, and in the end, because we have said everything before we had anything to say, we shall be left speechless at the moment of our greatest decision.”
~ Thomas Merton 
 Today I was reading an article in the Waterloo Region Record via The New York Times about celebrities, their use of Twitter, and how many of them often quit using the form of social media after posting something dumb.

"Twitter creates narcissists who need constant feedback from others to keep up their grandiose image of themselves."

I have thought a lot lately about my own use of social media. I have two blogs for which I have Twitter accounts, plus Facebook (which I use the most).  Recently I wrote a blog about de-cluttering my online presence, and I continue to think about it.  

I love Thomas Merton's quote at the top of this post. Is my life poured out in useless words?  In conversations, whether online or not, am I saying things just to fill the empty space that I am afraid of entering? Does my Grade 3 classmate that I haven't seen in 20 years need to know that I had a Big Mac for supper? Actually, do they need to know anything about me?  Do I collect Facebook friends or Twitter followers as a personal badge of success, even though they sometimes leave me feeling empty?

Merton says that if we keep yammering away - whether on or offline - about nothing, we will be left without anything to say at the moment of our greatest decision.  I like how he words it.

Perhaps you're like me and some of the people we admire the most are those who live the simplest and use few words. They seem to be at peace.

I'm not suggesting that we collectively meet at a bridge and toss our Macs or PC's into the lake (though some would say that doing so with our PC's would be a good thing).  I'm not suggesting that we all enroll in monasteries or nunneries. I will continue to use Facebook and, to an extent, Twitter, but maybe I need to think a little more before revealing everything to my friends and acquaintances, in person or online.  As scary as silence and solitude can be for many of us, I believe this is where we meet God (or Love, or the Universe, or whatever you may call it). This is where we often meet and hear our Inner Self, in the silence.  

Technology and social media can be a wonderful thing, but it can also spur us to narcissism and also to speak words that should be left unsaid.
“It's a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately fill up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness."
~ Pema Chodron