Facebook, ahimsa, and love

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Plato

Lately, I’ve been thinking about ahimsa, (doing no harm) as it pertains to our words.

Those of you who follow me on twitter know I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with facebook lately. I have been an avid fan of facebook since it launched in 2004, and I love keeping up with my friends. But life has put me in a delicate place the past six months, and day after day I’ve been hurt by things I’ve seen on the ‘book.

None of the things causing me pain have been mean-spirited, and the writers almost certainly have no clue that they’re hurting me. They are simply sharing their lives, which is what social networking is all about, anyway.

The problem is not them, it’s me, and so I’ve withdrawn from facebook for a while until I can stop being so hypersensitive and emotional (does that ever happen?).

Image from Art Asana, one of my new favorite websites: http://elizalynntobin.blogspot.com/

But it made me wonder…whom do I harm, indirectly, with my words? Because I put a lot of words out there every day: spoken word, email, social networking, texting, and of course this blog.

When I say seemingly innocuous things, is there someone out there wishing, just for once, that I could see it from their point of view? When I write about how much I love my dogs, is someone mourning the loss of their favorite pet? When I complain about waking up for work in the morning, is someone wishing fervently for employment? Do my words pour salt into the wound, and cause pain?

No matter what the intent behind our words, the impact can be out of our control. Even when you put love into the world…love can cause heartache.

Of course, there’s no way around this without withdrawing completely from the world and refusing to communicate, which isn’t practical for a born communicator like me. So I have no answers. But, like everything else, awareness is the first step.

What have you been hurt by, that no one dreamed could be hurtful?


PS- today after final relaxation, my teacher said this: Find something inside you that’s been struggling, and make it right. And if you can’t make it right, make it easy. And if you don’t know how to make it easy, take it one step at a time – one breath at a time. I had to wipe the tears from my eyes : )


9 responses to “Facebook, ahimsa, and love

  1. yes, what your teacher said made me tear up too….

    i am hypersensitive, i’ve been working on recognizing when i’m over the top, and when i can accept it as “me”.

    i’ve also been working on letting go what other people say. and trying to find the balance between voicing my opinion and instigating something. facebook is great for that.

    for example, the other day on A Green Spell’s facebook page, I responded to someone’s statement that climate change was created by solar flares (ie a sham). I kept it pretty neutral, but posted a link to the NASA site.

    She responded, and a few others (from my little notifications) but…. I didn’t go look. mostly because I didn’t want to be offended or angry, and realized that really- why did I bother? Someone who makes little snarky statements like that on facebook is LOOKING for a fight.

    sigh- it’s a Journey.

    ps- LOVE LOVE the artwork. am going to her site now!

  2. Oh man, you are talking to the Queen of Taking Things Personally. :) And for me, what people don’t say can’t be just as hurtful as what they do say! For instance, if I buy a new outfit I really like or try something different with my hair (and you know I’m not good at that!) but then all day long, nobody says anything about it- I’m a little sad inside. :( And recently some friends that are getting married were talking about how lame wedding favors are and how they’ve never been to a wedding where they really liked the favors… and I sat there like, “Hey…. I put a lot of time into mine…”

    But like you, I understand that it’s not intentional and the problem really lies with my sensitivity, no matter how much I try to fight that. I remember as a little kid, my older sister said something to get me upset and my mom told her to cut it out, that I was sensitive. I wailed, “I AM NOT SENSITIVE!!”

  3. yessss! art asana is genius and beauty!

    my response as to what i respond to in that way is actually the same as sarah’s. my parents were always really good about being like, “so, i guess youre having a bad day!” even if i wasnt before… it wasnt ever good after they said it!

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Jamie. I love the way you find the yoga in everything. Namaste!

  5. I am lucky in that most days I am not super sensitive – I am happy being me and so I don’t worry about what others think. So I don’t have to face what you are facing as often, but I have those days too. I try to remind myself on those days, when I know I’m over-sensitive, that it is just a passing thing, and that I should not accept what I “see” or “feel” as reality, because it isn’t.
    I love Art Asana’s site as well, and in fact just ordered an “om” print from her at Etsy. Wonderful stuff – thanks for sharing!

  6. I often wonder the same thing – there’s no way to write a blog post and address every single possible nuance or possible meaning ever (although the length of mine are testament to how hard I do try to do this), and I’m always left wondering if I could have inadvertently said something to upset someone, etc. But, like you, I don’t know how to remedy that without withdrawing entirely, and that’s not a good option either.

    Your teacher sounds so lovely. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes what the instructor says is EXACTLY what you need that day? Today on my way to yoga I thought, I need some calm in my body today, I’m bouncing off the walls. And the instructor (at a studio I very rarely go to, and I’ve never met this instructor before) told us at the start that the class would be about equanimity. Lovely!

  7. I just found your blog and really want to say thank you sharing your personal experiences. I am the same with FB etc and find I need to take a step back from it all. People can be pretty brutal online and not necessarily mean to be. One of the biggest things I learned is to not get involved in any arguments online, or emotional outbursts.

  8. Wow, yes. I totally get what you are saying. In fact, I am certainly an example of the overly sensitive type who can be troubled and hurt by even silly facebook posts.

    Take, for example, this line you typed:

    When I write about how much I love my dogs, is someone mourning the loss of their favorite pet?

    I teared up reading that, because that’s me. Obviously you had no intention of saying that to me and didn’t even know I would just so happen to stumble across your blog this morning (via beloved facebook) to see it. It just goes to show that you never really know what’s on the other side…what others are facing on the other side of your conversation, your phone call, your e-mail, your facebook posts.

    And contrary to claims from my father growing up and my husband now, I do NOT need a thicker skin…this is just who I am. :)

    • Amy- thanks for the comment. I feel like you really understood exactly what I was trying to say. The things that can hurt the most in a public forum are often not mean, derisive, or critical, but happy celebrations that unintentionally promote a feeling of exclusion among others.

      We can’t hold ourselves responsible for other people’s happiness, but we can always be kind and considerate of other people’s situations. : )

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