Social Media and Selfishness
Today we talk about social media and selfishness.
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Today's reading is from chapter 24 of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching from the translation of Jonathan Star:
On his tiptoes a man is not steady
Taking long strides he cannot keep pace
To the self-serving, nothing shines forth
To the self-promoting, nothin g is distinguished
To the self-appointing, nothing bears fruit
To the self-righteous, nothing endures
There are a lot of different ways you can apply and interpret this verse, but this morning it has me thinking about something that wouldn't exist for thousands of years: social media. Because if you look at what Lao Tzu's cautioning against here, they're all embodied in social media at its worst. It's not hard to understand how social media encourages us to be self promoting. You can see plenty of self-appointed "thought leaders" and "influencers" on Twitter and Instagram, and even a minor political controversy will bring out self-righteousness in people no matter where they orient themselves politically.
What's the alternative then? Lao Tsu doesn't mince words about these narcissistic behaviors. He likens them to "rotting food and painful growths on the body… that all creatures despise". What he is promising here, if we move beyond this selfishness, is steadiness in our lives. An even pace. And I think for a lot of us who are plugged into social media often, these characteristics of steadiness and evenness are often absent from our lives. When every open moment is filled with a screen, the day rushes past and priorities get left behind.
This isn't a dig on social media, though it's certainly wise to consider how these companies might be incentivized to encourage these behavior patterns in their products. I think it's totally possible to use social media without falling into these selfish mindsets. But it requires awareness of yourself and how social media might affect you.
One thing I've found helpful is to ask myself when I go on social media "what's the purpose of me getting on today?" You might realize you don't have any reason at all, and log on anyways. But at least you're training yourself to operate from a place of awareness instead of mindlessly filling your day with entertainment.
Hope for northern white rhinos, of which there are only two left in existence, as the first successful birth from artificial insemination of a white rhino in North America opens up the potential for saving this nearly extinct species.
Quote of the Day
“Until you stop making it about you, you’ll never understand.”
― Chris Morgan (SON)