I struggled for some time learning how to balance seeing others be one way and then be another. Social media has given us all access to people we love, admire and respect in ways that we never had before. The online space has become a purge fest for random thoughts, perplexing questions, and deep reflection.
There is a range of content coming from our online community and sometimes that content can send your spirit soaring or have you looking up to the heavens from the sunken place of your loved one’s post. One minute they are in deep reflection about their peace and posting memes of praise hands and the next posting pictures of someone teasing, taunting or demeaning them for their clothes or food.
The public hypocrisy can become too much in a way that pushes you to change your ideas about people. I have found out things about people that have changed how I view them and I sometimes feel bad about that.
Am I judging them? Do I think that I am better? Should I forget I saw what I saw and pretend like it didn’t bother me? What do I do with these feelings?
I recognize that people have allowed us access to their thoughts and photos because that is their choice. Did they open themselves up to scrutiny? Well in a way we all do. The most valuable lesson I learned from my good friend Chellz the Great…(yes that is her name in my phone and that is how I refer to her cause she’s awesome!) was that people are allowed to be hypocrites.
We all live in a conflict in some way. We choose what to do about it though. I know it can be difficult finding out how your best friend really thinks or finding out that people are really rude to others with differing opinions or that your favorite cousin constantly posts derogatory comments about gays and lesbians but they never said anything sideways to your best friend when you all hang out…but it is ok.
Discomfort is a part of life and we are not promised comfort with every breath. Seeing someones hypocrisy can be confusing. The last time I was put in this position I realized I don’t have to judge to have compassion but it did hurt me knowing someone I respected had behaviors and philosophies that were misogynistic. Not only were they misogynistic but real talk what they did and posted was illegal. What blew my mind even more where the people that co-signed on it that I also respected and loved.
So here is the reality of all of this. Not only do we see the hypocrisy but we see the path that it clears for hate, intolerance, bullying, judgment, condemnation, and anger for others to join in. One public toxic thought can create a whirlwind of karma and drama that lives off of the screen and in peoples real lives.
Some of us are firestarters…
That isn’t a bad thing, fire keeps away the bad bugs at night, keeps us warm and heats our food and water. But a firekeeper that ignites and sparks flames unintentionally is like the cow that kicked over the lantern that burned most of Chicago down in its early years. What made the Chicago Fire so destructive was that the fire was left unattended and most of the city was made out of wood.
Many of us are made of wood and we catch on fire real quick and by the time we realize we are burning it is too late. We’ve wasted a day in toxic thoughts sparked by someone else, we have created our day anchored in conversations that are the seeds of hurt, shame, and intolerance but we laugh and like and love and share.
So how do you stop burning up without burning bridges?
One doesn’t have to completely disengage with folks but realize everyone is on their own path. I’m not one to point out every little thing but I speak up when my heart leads me. I mean “walk it like you talk it”. If there is someone close to you that has ways and tendencies that are opposite of who they are and you know them it can be scary lifting up what you see. Not everyone is receptive to hearing that their words and or actions are hurtful, sexist, racist, misogynistic….
You can always share your ideas on topics without criticizing the sharer. I’ve found that by using I statements when I share and when people say or do things on or offline it protects me from judging them. I turn my attention to how I feel, how I see things and respect the opinions of others. It isn’t my job to say “hey sis you ain’t right, I think you need to have a seat”. I could reach out and check in to see if everything is ok and say “hey sis if you need me I’m always here”.
The double life people lead can push you to practice in a totally different way. For example, a teacher who loves their job and receives awards vents and calls kids and parents out of their names online can be jarring; but we each are allowed to express ourselves to our level of comfort and there always is that lovely unfollow button.
If you find yourself shocked by peoples online personas and their posts are hypocritical possibly reflect on your own ways of sharing. Sometimes we only share things that allow us to exist only in a certain way online. We protect our image by having a process of what we share and who we share it with. Nonetheless, things we say and do can also be perceived as hypocritical.
Having all access to other peoples thoughts is overwhelming. Beyond the 70,000 thoughts in your own mind that are toxic that you have to let go of now, there are these other thoughts from the outside lol…
Be kind to your friends and family we say “thoughts are things” which is true but also remember “we are not our thoughts”. So the next time you are shocked by a friend or families post…..
- take a deep breath and reflect on how you feel…how does your body physically feel and what emotion are you feeling at the moment?
- give yourself permission to feel without judgment
- accept the feelings that have bubbled up
- choose to allow them to have their thought without judging them
- if you desire to comment share about the content
- if you desire to speak up to your friend or family about how their behaviors and thoughts seem to be opposite of who they are….before you do that consider are you doing this to put them in check….are you doing this because it is negatively affecting them and they need to know and you are looking out…..are you doing this because you all have a vow to let each other know and hold each other accountable for when you’re slipping….why are you saying something?
If we each were accountable to being our best selves life would be easy. But when life rewards you for being your most hurtful self it can get confusing. Practice being who you say you are online and off. Practice reflecting on are you who you say you are. I guarantee you that over time you’ll have less concern about pointing out the hypocrisy of others for the sake of pointing out because you’ll begin to use those moments as reminders of your own ways and turn inward to focus on your self.