HOW SOCIAL MEDIA HAS HELPED ME GROW SPIRITUALLY
Article by Holley Hendricks
While going through a rough patch in life, you have probably happened upon an Instagram post or Facebook video in your feed that described everything you were feeling and made you feel less alone. Maybe it resonated with you so much that you decided to follow the source author or page, but a few days later, that same author or page posted something that you didn’t agree with at all. Hastily, you clicked unfollow, as if the words were a virus that could infect your device; it was as though the original post that made sense of your life lately never existed.
I’ve done this too.
Of course, your social media feed is yours. You should keep it relevant to you and make sure it includes content that you like to see. I used to be someone who would immediately unfollow or unsubscribe the moment that someone said one thing that I disagreed with. It didn’t matter how many times the person had encouraged me in some way – the moment they said that one thing, I was out.
It’s easy to hit unfollow. It’s easy to stop listening when someone says something we don’t agree with. It’s easy to lash out or unfriend someone. It’s easy to engage in arguments or post long-winded comments on the Internet.
We forget that the writer or YouTuber is still a person having his or her unique experience – an experience that we may not fully understand. Outside that one thing that triggered your unfollow impulse or your judgement, this person might have a lot of other things in common with you and could be really fun to know.
What would be the worst that could happen if we decided to still read or listen, though? Observing or hearing out the opinions of another, even if they conflict with our own, isn’t poisonous or deadly. It is even possible to hold a positive view of someone who does not fully resonate with us, even if they may not be someone we would want to hang out with regularly.
Whatever we believe to be true will ultimately make itself apparent in our lives. Since we all hold different beliefs, that means our lives can take on a similar variety.
My life as a believer in the law of attraction, twin flames, and reincarnation will look very different from someone who is deeply religious and more conservative. Does that mean one of us is better than the other, or that one of us chose the “right” experience and the other chose the “wrong” one? Of course not. Would I want the experience of a deeply religious person? Probably not. Would they want my experience? Probably not.
But how many of us have immediately written off, unfollowed, blocked, or lost respect for someone who perhaps was very similar to us in beliefs but said one or two things that didn’t resonate? It can go even further than online. I have experienced this in my friendships and family relationships as well. People have distanced themselves from me because of my spirituality and the topics that interest me. Some of them did not provide an explanation, while others told me they would pray for me, perhaps more out of judgment than genuine concern.
My social feeds are full of other holistic practitioners and readers. Many have strong opinions, and some have said things that I found mildly offensive (that Reiki certificates can be purchased at your local grocery store, for instance). I used to feel the need to immediately unfollow, mute, or write an informative comment that would set them straight, but I’ve realized that doesn’t help – them or me. It is a very conditional way of approaching people. Maybe online, it isn’t as big of a deal, but it is a good place to get used to being unconditional toward people. I have seen close friendships dissolved by this sense of division and, consequently, I have seen people feel hurt and confused by it.
As an alternative to ghosting, unfriending, or in any way hurting another person in response to their beliefs or interests, here are things I have tried when someone said something that conflicted with my own views.
• If the point of disagreement is not too triggering to you or the other person, try asking questions about it in a way that is not throwing skepticism at the subject or dismissing it. For instance, if you don’t believe in crystal healing and a friend does, ask them what drew them to it or if they’ve had experiences with crystals. You don’t have to come right out and say you don’t believe. Just listen. This is especially good if the other person is enthusiastic about the subject and just likes to talk about it.
• If the subject you are disagreeing on will spark emotion in you, try not to focus on it. Don’t take one aspect and make that the entire person. Find other common ground that you share.
• If the disagreement is bound to come up or be found out, try being honest. “I don’t believe that crystals can heal physical conditions, but I know that you do, and I am sure you have good reason for believing.” Then see if you can change the subject or peacefully close out the conversation.
• If you start getting emotional, breathe. Pause before you respond or find some way to break away from the conversation and cool down before you answer. Once your words have been transmitted to another, they can never be taken back. Hurt feelings are more difficult to resolve than fleeting strong emotion within yourself.
Be good to each other! Namaste.