I’ve just finished the last workshop of my Paths of Consciousness tour and during the New York event, I announced that I am coming off social media because of the lack of policing over the hurtful and false content promoted on these platforms for all its users, especially the young and vulnerable.
As a physical gesture of this decision, I smashed my smartphone with a hammer. For me, this action is symbolic of the destructive forces that the leading social media platforms have on the lives of children, men and women around the world who experience cyberbullying.
Social Media Bullying
Things get said on social media that most people would have a very hard time saying to someone’s face. Often, the cyberbullies have no personal relationship with their target. No one is immune. Posting an opinion becomes an invitation for bullies to descend. False accusations, vicious attacks, and insults can become what feels like a campaign with devastating effects especially on the vulnerable. As someone once said to me, a blank screen or paper never refused ink, and these days, anybody can say anything about you.
The Right to Speech
The US First Amendment is misused by some as a way to hurt others with false accusations. It is my belief that the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment refers to free truthful speech. Instead, some have used their First Amendment rights to justify deliberate violent verbal attacks and unfounded opinions. Social media seems to have given people liberty to defame someone’s character and to direct anger, shame, bullying behavior, slanderous statements and false accusations without cause or proof. People who have never even had a direct experience with someone feel they have the right to create a narrative by piecing together content and footage, taken out of context, to prove their claims. This is abuse.
“Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.
Examples of what we do not tolerate includes, but is not limited to behavior that harasses individuals or groups of people with:
– violent threats;
– wishes for the physical harm, death, or disease of individuals or groups;
– references to mass murder, violent events, or specific means of violence in which/with which such groups have been the primary targets or victims;
– behavior that incites fear about a protected group;
– repeated and/or non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes, or other content that degrades someone.”
In many cases, people use social media to attract and validate their personal opinion. I have seen attackers refrain from approving and publishing comments that would discredit their claims, so they can continue to control the narrative. It is easy to make a convincing argument by distorting the truth, editing content and removing the ability to introduce counter-arguments or statements that refute allegations. How can we support a system that continues to feed lies to unsuspecting people?
We must protect the right to speak our truth, but each one of us must take accountability to ensure we are not spreading false information, fake news, other people’s opinions and lies, or engaging in gossip. So how do you know when to speak up, and when to share information? Discernment is a vital tool. We must also speak directly from our experience. When we don’t, we run the risk of actively participating in ignorance and perpetuating malicious attacks and cyberbullying – an extremely dangerous precedent that is eroding our moral character and hurting our children.
Changing Your Environment
At this time, I have chosen not to support social media platforms that continue to spread untruth, which is a form of violence. So, I am changing my Satsang. Satsang is an ancient word that means “company.” It is based on the idea of “show me the company that you keep and I will be able to tell you what you’re going to become.” The worst thing you could do if you’re trying to better yourself is to be in an environment that is out of alignment with your core values.
The company you keep is the energy you keep, and if you want to be happier, it’s good to be in the company of those who support and reinforce your values.
Since I am not on social media, if you wish to be informed you can do so through this website.
Love, Love, Love,