We are today more connected than ever before, though it's not too far reaching to say that we are understanding more and more the fallacy of this "connection". Mind you, we are lucky to live in an age where we can actually and honestly discuss what is going on in our lives and heads. I think it is important to acknowledge that this is a huge and positive shift in society and humanity, we are freer than ever to feel and think how we want and live our lives accordingly, and we are certainly freer than ever before to express it all. Of course, there are pros and cons to this present state. Anytime a child learns something new they must learn the balance of use, which comes only from over-use, under use and using it in the wrong context. Just like a child, we as a whole are new to something and must learn the do the same, finding the perfect balance only comes from experiencing both the good and the bad.
Social Media has created a lot of warriors and martyrs- people who get on every day and write a long post of injustices, struggles and victories in the most passionate of manners. The intentions are good- to inspire others to speak out, stand up, do something for the betterment of themselves, others or the planet. However, I am seeing all too often people posting the same words over and over, then one day discussing their own failing, suffering and challenges, then the next day it's back to the war cry. Yes, these breakdowns in powerful conversation are also powerful, they connect us in our imperfect humanity, however the constant roller coaster of power-to-struggle begins to beg the question: beneath all of the words, are we doing the work? My concern is that the answer is no, no we are not doing the work. We are spending a lot of time crafting inspiration and stories with beautiful pictures, then using these posts to foster connection. Yes, fostering connection is a beautiful side affect of social media, but this fostered connection is only ingraining further into us the identities that we are talking about overcoming. Have we become so consumed by the gloss of the post that we have lost sight of the life that is living it?
The process of transformation begins with Awareness, we must understand that we have pain, or power, or whatever else (though we are not it). Then it moves to Acknowledgement and Ownership, fully embracing what we are experiencing right now. Finally it moves into the action part, actually doing something about it. Society has done some brilliant work on the Awareness piece, we are more aware than ever of what the hell is going on within us, what we feel and what we think beyond what we have been conditioned into. We have now moved onto the Acknowledgment and Ownership part- this is something that I believe we are new to and it is largely a result of the social media connection and the realization that the more we express ourselves honestly the more connected we actually become. But this is also where we are currently stuck. As mentioned, Acknowledgement comes from owning who you are and where you are right now. Right now are the operative words, we must own who we are now if we expect to change it, but change must come. The present situation, the now, is one part in the past choices and one part in the future potential.
The same force that kept us stuck in avoiding our differences is now keeping us stuck in loving our differences: connection. We were once afraid of being who we are because we would be different and alone, now we speak of who we are, the more different the better, and it has connected us to all of those who are different just like us. It's a Universal Truth- we are all so different and in those differences we are all the same. The fear of difference has become the badge of difference and now we all have badges... and we are all back to square one. But we are living beings, which means we are all evolving, every single day, physically, emotionally and mentally. We are constantly evolving more like those who we were once unlike and more unlike those who we were once like. This is just how it goes, so if you keep avoiding getting on the bus to hang out with your friends, eventually you'll be the only one left at the stop.
This connection is fostered by our attachment to identity. We as humans want nothing more than to connect, we are on this earth in large part to connect. What connects us? Our similarities, our differences, our identity. What happens is that we recognize our identity and own it, then we realize that this identity connects us to others, we love this connection, it makes us feel safe, loved, powerful, therefor the idea of losing this identity would result in us losing connection which would ultimately result in a loss of safety, love and power. Thus, despite the fact that we are all on social media talking about how we are changing into a whole new person who is totally amazing and super powerful, most of us actually aren't because most of us at a very basic level are deeply attached to our image and are therefor fearful of change. That's ok, change is not easy, but when we run around talking about making powerful changes we oversimplify a process that is never simple and we dilute something that is quite potent. We cover ourselves in the image of change and thus trick everyone, ourselves included, into thinking that we actually are changing. Sometimes creating an image of ourselves in change can become a powerful catalyst to make the change happen, and sometimes it can just cover up our laziness in a bunch of hash tags. Just because you put on the jersey doesn't mean you are now an all-star.
Wisdom is the love child of knowledge and experience. We become leaders by experiencing the hardship, doing the work, learning from it and then sharing it with others, supporting them through the same process. Leaders choose to step away from the angry mob and do the work, what needs to be done so that change can actually happen, not just talk about it happening. Leaders inspire the world because they have been through the fire and they know the glory that is on the other side. Social Media can be a tough place for a true leader to exist, because transformation requires a certain lack of connection to identity and social media is the place where identity thrives. So use it, go on and find inspiration, connect to the pain and weaknesses of others, use it all to help you recognize your own pains and shortcomings, but then step away and get back in touch with yourself, not the story and not the image, then for goodness sake do the work. Don't do the work for your next post, but for your life, for the story that you go home to every single day.
Chelsea M Latham
When I was a kid my mom would occasionally refer to me as a Reverend, because I had the need to speak so passionately about just about everything. Little did she know that some day I would build a business upon sharing the wisdom that I am so passionate about. So here you go, here are some bits and bobs of thoughts strung together for your enjoyment.