Social Media Dis-Ease

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Progress is defined as movement onward toward a destination.  Before we label something as “progressive,” it’s important to determine if a particular move is really an advancement and a betterment of what is here now.

I recently viewed a documentary about medical devices and one of the premises of the movie was that “new” and “technologically advanced” was not only not better, but much more dangerous as it eliminates our human ability to spot and address problems and changes as they occur.  Namely, while it seems that the extended robot-doctor can be much more precise in performing surgery, it is the intuitiveness and observation of an experienced doctor that is far more valuable in the operation room.

My issue with this growth in technology as initially been a simple fear of expansion.  Nobody wants to invest money and time in learning something or buying a device that can be made irrelevant so shortly after.  In my family, things have been bought to last for generations, so this was a new way of thinking I had to adapt to.  This is where I had to have a personal expansion and ability to constantly think outside of the box. I can  do that.  However, what I find most difficult is responding to the information that can come outside at the pace at which it can be coming.

Think for a second about the way text messages are sent.  A person can have a thought and instead of capturing it and then evaluating it’s intention and rightful place in a schedule, it is far easier to just “shoot” a text and let the other person deal with what they need to deal with so that we can get a response while we are doing something else.  It seems like there is no issue there, seemingly we are moving things forward way faster than we did in the prehistoric times.  I do believe, though, that this fast paced way of communicating sometimes fails to take into account our need, and right, to take time to think things through, mull over it, consider options and then return with an answer that actually serves us. I have heard it time and time again, especially from moms, that they get irritated when people send them text messages any time of the day and night with an expectation of an answer immediately or shortly after.  I happen to agree.  Just because it takes a split of a second for someone else’s though to show up on my phone and in my possession, it doesn’t mean I am in any way obligated to respond to it (I am not talking to relationships or commitments where this is predetermined or promised).  Just because communications can travel fast, doesn’t mean that they will “land” at that pace or be processed in the time the other party expects it.

Besides texts and this arrogant expectation people have that their emails, messages and voicemails should be answered in whatever they think it’s a timely manner, I think the information we are bombarded by at every corner is very hard to process.  I believe some of it needs to be brutally repelled:  I really don’t want to be knowing the latest soap opera drama from the self made TV stars, ambitious social media influencers (some of which have really not much to say, it’s just that the frequency of their posts is so high, it actually begins to cause traction), and even celebrities.  While some stories can surely inspire an ordinary person (all of us on the other side of these messages), most of the information out there is tailored to create fake images, needs and wants that literally targets our vulnerable minds.  And I do say vulnerable minds because I feel that anyone that is bombarded by information from every angle and all the time is eventually going to crack and just feel too vulnerable to give a dignified NO.

On one hand, marketers and advertisers, as well as celebrities, brand managers, influencers, are brilliant.  They have found a way to gather tribes of people, fans, followers to send their messages, sell their products and be known in this world the way they want to be known and seen.  I think there is art to it all and I am naturally curious about it as I am curious about human beings and our design.  But, technology allows for too much of this so I believe that we naturally start forming thick skin, or we tune out or we are only half way present.  Don’t tell me that when you are scrolling down your Facebook feed or Instagram, that you are actually really connecting to what people are trying to tell you.  If you are like me, you do this almost habitually and neither giving yourself fully to it, nor fully blocking it so that you can have a peaceful ride on subway, dinner, uber ride or whatever it is that you usually use as a perfect time for social media binge.  And it is this half-ass-ness that I think has us neither committed to finding out information we need nor fully honoring our personal boundaries….We are simply there absorbing and being impacted without much say in a matter (intentional thought in this regard).

With one such obsession lately, I was noticing, from finding out information I needed to looking at how other people were commenting, seeing their brutal replies, some of which were in agreement with my way of thinking, and some completely opposing, I have began to feel a little sick.  I began to feel mildly depressed and disconnected from my own life.  Luckily, my husband would catch me, interrupt me and sometimes even unintentionally shame me:  “Marija, are you taking care of the kids?” and I would snap out of it, sometimes perhaps after first getting angry at my husband for catching me in crime.

Just because we have this immediate access to the world around us (nowadays you can send emails and letters to the President or Queen herself), doesn’t mean it’s normal.  Perhaps at some point humans will evolve into being more adapt to technology and what it provides, but with all my spiritual, leadership and psychology training, I find it so hard to do so, and I truly don’t doubt my intellect in this regard.  Even if you don’t believe me or find my experience credible, go on to one of the political Facebook Pages or Instagram posts and read comments for about 10 minutes and tell me how you feel, how your body feels and if you have faith in yourself and humanity right after.  I would sincerely doubt it.

When it comes to commenting, I have experienced this myself, we want an immediate relief from our anger, disappointment and alike and there is nothing as easy as googling the person you deem responsible and laying an irresponsible comment on their post, page or link.  In fact, most of us would never in a million years look at that person in the face and say what we are willing to write in comments, some of us courageous to keep our own profile pictures while many are hiding behind the fake ones.  Speaking of this, there should not be a way to create multiple social media accounts or post fake names as this is a sure way to have people not have to be responsible or held accountable for their actions in the cyber space.

We forget our manners, simply put, but that is not nearly as bad as vomiting of our opinions the moment we have it.  On one hand, some people just have a view and then they lay it out without paying any mind to how it could affect people who could read it, on another, some of us are brewing our opinions for some time so when we finally lay it out, it sounds like a massive attack.  Hate is real, people, and while I think it’s awesome to express it in a safe container such that we can alchemize it and see what our experience and emotion is teaching us, I think being able and allowed to spread hate at the speed at which technology works is scary at best.

As a relatively new mom, my kids are 2.5 and 5, and already 40 years old, I have been thinking about death and dying as well as the legacy I want to leave behind.  I am an avid self help book reader, personal development course student and teacher and someone who thrives on constant learning.  All this has me think about what the point of life is, how to live the best version of it and be the best of myself I can be so that, if I can ever have conscious experience of dying, I can feel content and like my life was worth a while.  When I think of my life from the perspective of being on my death bed, I can see so clearly how much all these things that are irritating us day to day really don’t matter at all.  Do I really need to make sure to weigh in on someone’s style choice, personality, political views and alike…  I think not.  I believe that deep inside, we all try to do our best and if you look at people who seem aggressive, unkind, bullies, you can track down that they didn’t have love that I believe each human being deserves.  Somehow, I do believe that we are all exactly where we need to be and that nobody’s value is overlooked.

With all this said, I think social media can be a real addiction.  We haven’t had it in our hands long enough to see the damages it can pose on human experience so I think it’s important to be careful and pay extra mind to the experience of it and predictable impacts.  For me, again, given I was feeling mildly depressed over vastness of how information, especially fake one, can travel and that many people so easily buy into it, I had to take a step back.  I don’t fully disconnect because I do not want live my life alone, but I time myself.  I teach myself how to use these things as tools the same way I was teaching myself how to nourish my body with yoga and healthy food instead of dieting and eating disorder in order to look the way it was never possible for me to look.

My true recommendation for all of you who read this here is to take a step back and invest your energy and creativity into what really matters to you and then use tools available to share that, mindful that it can back fire, that not everyone will see you the way a person in front of you can.  I think we have to “fight” this tech expansion by giving ourselves an enormous space to expand within, to address pains that we carry and share healing that is available.

With so much love and appreciation that I can share my deep thoughts with a click of a button,

Your friend, Marija

 

Last Conversation with My Dad

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Last year in the last week of may was the last time I heard my father’s voice. I was in Paris with girlfriends and then had ny husband join me for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary. It was the first time we left kids for that long to do this.  Granted, they were with their grandma.

My dad was in Paris to pick up his youngest son and bring him home to Zagreb. He planned to watch French Open so the only way he thought we could see each other was for me to come to the gates and message him from there to come meet me.  None the less, he was in Paris an entire week.

It took everything for me to say no to his proposal to meet him by the gates and not because I didn’t want to make an effort to see him but because for as long as I could remember, I was the only one making an effort. I thought this changed when he broke the streak of broken promises 2 years before this by coming for a weekend to meet my older son and spend some time with me.  I appreciated that very much, but the reality is, this was a rare moment and one of  few I can count in the past 30 years.

I decided to do what works not what I wanted.  French Open was in a completely different part of the town and had I gone there, I would’ve missed a chance to see Paris and I felt that I worked really hard to earn that trip. I was so mad because I really wanted to see him and introduce him to my husband.  And yet, I didn’t feel like it was ok to invest so much money, time and effort in celebrating my anniversary to set it all aside and adjust my schedule to my dad’s. I was mad that he didn’t want to find another way. He was mad that I didn’t accept his proposal and that I was mad and that was it. 

He never spoke to me again. I reached out a few times and then stopped. Some time in November I began to feel regret that we weren’t talking.  Then I realized, it wasn’t up to me.  I didn’t mind reaching out, but I think everyone eventually gets tired of trying.  I knew that in every possible way, I tried to be better, more understanding and forgiving.  I didn’t see any effort on my dad’s part.  On contrary, he always gave himself an out by saying: “I am the way I am” and by asking me to “let it go.”

I cried my eyes out over this that night.  If I wasn’t happily married, I would’ve felt completely unlovable.  In fact, from time to time my husband reminds me that he will not abandon me because that experience, even though from childhood, still felt ingrained in my mind.  I even did a family constellation session.  I thought, why not give it a shot to try to repair this relationship on a soul level.  My friend, and facilitator told me: your father is there for you on a soul level, but his body doesn’t know how to be.

On New Year’s day he sent me a message with greetings. I responded with a picture of my family. He wrote back that it was beautiful to see us. On my birthday, a few days later, he had a stroke he never woke up from.  I often wonder if my clearing had something to do with his sudden reaching out.  Did he know deep inside that something was going to happen.  Had he not, the last thing I would remember would be the fight with him from my expensive hotel room about him not willing to make time to see us.

Am I at peace?  most of the time. It’s bitter sweet. On one hand, I stood up for myself a year ago in Paris and broke the habit of always setting everything else aside when my dad is available.  I am glad I did that because I didn’t want my marriage to come second to my dad’s crazy expectations of me (that he doesn’t have of himself).  But I am sorry.  I am sorry I got mad and I am sorry that I couldn’t have it just wash off of me and leave no impact.  It’s silly that we get mad at people for being who they are.  My dad was being true to himself and whether or not that was enough for me, I have to accept it.

I could feel guilty but I am not going to.  I am writing this just to share because I often hear people beating themselves up over choices they made in the past.  The things is, the time is always now to make the right choice.  After that, the only choice we have is to make peace with it.  I made peace with mine.  I still and completely love my dad.  And I know he loved me. We had whatever time we had.  May he rest in peace and may my children never feel I am hard to get through to in any way.  This is not the end of grief, however, for me.  It’s merely a beginning ❤