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Dear Social Media,
If I’m 100% honest with myself right now, then I would admit I’m not sure how I feel about you today.
Some days I love you—you make me feel fantastic! On those days I see all the good that you bring to me and others, and I appreciate your beautiful, creative platform, which allows me to project positivity and love out into the whole wide world.
But on other days, days where I open you up and check to see what people say about me, when I take a photo not because I want it, but because I want to post it for people I don’t even know… It’s on those days that I honestly resent you. But not because of you. I promise it’s not you this time. I resent you because of my unhealthy relationship with you.
What’s crazy is the only reason I am even using you is because I want to try and do good with you! I want to use this platform, which can be used for so many awful and superficial things, for something more meaningful. I want to be a representation of a man who is open and honest with his feelings, his love for his family, and his faith. After all, the Baha’i teachings ask all of us to work for “the upliftment of society:”
It is your duty to be exceedingly kind to every human being, and to wish him well; to work for the upliftment of society; to blow the breath of life into the dead; to act in accordance with the instructions of Baha’u’llah and walk His path — until ye change the world of man into the world of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 90.
I try to do those things, but sometimes I get lost, and I forget my intention. Because if I take a photo of my wife, or my daughter, or my friends, and I don’t take it for me, I take it for you… then I am failing at being the person I aspire to be, the husband and father I hope I can one day become. Rather than using you to express my higher, spiritual self; I use you for the wrong reasons:
As long as man is a captive of habit, pursuing the dictates of self and desire, he is vanquished and defeated. This passionate personal ego takes the reins from his hands, crowds out the qualities of the divine ego and changes him into an animal, a creature unable to judge good from evil, or to distinguish light from darkness. He becomes blind to divine attributes, for this acquired individuality, the result of an evil routine of thought becomes the dominant note of his life. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 133.
There are so many exciting moments happening right now in my life, but every once in a while I miss one because my head is down, looking at you; when it should be up, looking at life:
…while nature invites man to the baser propensities of ego and self, the Love of God attracts him to the worlds of sanctity and holiness, justice and generosity, mercy and humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 4, p. 182.
So can we please fix this unhealthy relationship, social media? Can we work on it together? I promise I’m not breaking up with you, I just want to make our connection a little stronger, by giving both of us some time apart every now and then to appreciate how good we can be together.
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I want to remember the second quotation......the description of a habitual evil routine of thought setting the tone of our life is made to order for this subject. Social media, and the whole Internet, have brought
new benefits and new dangers we will have to adapt to. To me, the absolutely massive new opportunities are worth the risks, which I think are far overstated by many people. There has never been a time when caution, discernment, discretion, discipline, and courtesy haven't been called for in human relations; why shouldn't we need those things now? ...Social media's seductive ease of use, beguiling titillation , promotion of easy familiarity, empowerment of wise and unwise/kind and mean opinionating, and the protection of distance, definitely make it a challenge to our character. If we recognize that, as you have, we'll find our way!