Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Inspiration Media Leaves Me Feeling Empty

In the last few years I have noticed that the world seems to be a lot more tolerant of differences, or at least one would believe so by our social media. You can't go far without seeing a motivational, inspirational message somewhere.

Don't believe me? Go check your Facebook wall. Check Twitter, and the front page of Yahoo, or wherever you get your news from. Go ahead...I'll wait check mine, too.

Ready to compare results?

From my Facebook wall out of the ten most recent 3 of them are what I would call inspirational, or sappy.  From my yahoo home page a whopping 6 out of the first 10 news stories listed are designed to be warm, and fuzzy, and my Twitter is at about a 4/10 ratio on any given day. 

I am a big believer in positive psychology, and do follow quite a few of those types of social media platforms. It's not that I am not responsible for putting much of this into my own feeds, but then again I also know that these messages of cheap inspiration are everywhere. My main theme to learn, read, and interact about is autism. The rest just happens to fall into my timeline somewhere.

So, what's the problem, you may be asking yourself. What could be so bad about seeing the world in a more positive light, and being surrounded by messages of warmth, and kindness for everyone? My reply would be nothing, as long as we were actually being influenced by these messages, and not using them as just another viral share.

Much like America's obsession with weight loss, and fitness, despite the huge disparity of what our actual health, and weight is on average, I feel the great divide between what our social media is saying we care about, and what our actions actually back up is huge.

When I learn of bullying, or harm coming to children with special needs in a school I often try to see what attitude the school, and staff exude. I can say that almost always, the schools with the most motivational posters on the walls are the most intolerant of differences. The school site may have such a sweet message that you fear getting a cavity from reading it, but the general behavior of the staff as a whole is sour.

Why is that?

I can honestly say that I don't know. I do know that this type of 'inspiration porn' has sure become trendy, which I am not really feeling is a good thing. Trends are shallow. They attract a lot of attention, but little depth, or follow through. I also don't know what affect this will have on the future. I don't know what the cost will be to our children who see us sharing a warm fuzzy photo, or video, but then see us behaving in ways that don't back up that message.

I have a lot of ideas as to why our social climate has turned so hostile. That is probably a post best saved for another day, though. What I am wanting to leave you with is the idea that our beliefs, and what we read is not what makes us who we are. Sure, they influence us, but they do not make our character. Our actions make our character. Reading, and sharing a bunch of inspiring messages does not make us a better society. How we behave can, and does. Sometimes, we feel small, and like we can't make any grand difference in anyone's lives like the videos we see being shared. I feel like those messages almost cheapen the real experience of being an empathetic being sharing with another being. Real sharing takes effort, and time. We have opportunities everyday to do this. Every day. When we give our total attention to the people we speak with, and treat them as if they matter we are building a moment of positivity. In a given day, there are numerous times we can practice this behavior.  When a person steps outside of their comfort zone to assist another person another moment of warmth is created. When we see that an injustice has occurred, and we step up to help solve it no matter the costs to us, we create a moment of positive change. When we are at a restaurant, or store and have to wait, and do so with patience we create another opportunity for meaningful change.

When we regard ourselves equal, but not above, or below others then true connections can happen. Otherwise, time, money, love, and possessions tend to become the underlying competition to see who can get more of it faster. We never call it that, but that's what it is, and what we do. We get angry when people waste our time, money, and things. As living beings we will come, and we will go, just as people have for eons. Our lives are literally just small moments strung together until we run out of them. Some of us have more than others, but in the end it's not about what we had, or what we said, but how fully we experience each of those moments.

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