It’s so tempting, so easy. Just click “share” or point your cursor to “forward” and you poison your universe with derogatory satire, derisive cartoons, contemptuous commentary that seemed so funny when they initially appeared on your screen. Gleefully you pollute the screens of those you call friends. And they share with others who in turn share, and we all share ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
Entertainment? Self-expression? Really? Does the world need more snarkiness?
We common, everyday folk have more opportunity to join the global conversation than ever before in human history. In the 1970s I was an editor for the Associated Press, the largest news-gathering agency in the world. Yet I had nowhere near the unchecked power that I hold now as an old lady in a remote town with a computer and high-speed internet.
What can I, what should I, be sharing with the world? We have infinite opportunities to share beauty, extend love. That also means each one of us is individually responsible for taming this wild internet beast. It’s a responsibility we dare not cede to politicians or corporate executives.
Indulge me. Next time you’re tempted to click, sit on your hands for a moment. Ask yourself three questions inspired by mystery writer Louise Penny’s fictional character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Before speaking, the admirable Gamache asks himself:
- Is it kind?
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
The first question would eliminate a lot of sharing right off the bat. The second is trickier in an era when so many get to choose what flavor of “truth” they prefer; you can “prove” anything online. But if the first two don’t stop you, the third one probably will.
But I’m so angry! Well you should be. There’s much to be angry about. Mental health counselors and self-help experts tell us that anger is a natural, normal emotion. What we do with it makes all the difference.
A Seattle orthopedic surgeon prescribes a pain-free, cost-free treatment for addressing anger and negativity. Dr. David Hanscom, author of Back In Control, calls his treatment “expressive writing.” Take paper and pen and let the words flow: all the challenges, the doubts, the frustrations, irritations, the “insurmountable problems.” He suggests about fifteen minutes of writing every day. Not all that much time away from the screen.
Ah yes, writing is to be done by hand, not on the computer. Clutching that pen or pencil and pushing it across the page fires up a broader spectrum of neurons in your brain. You’re getting more bang for your buck. Plus, the really important part of the treatment is the next step: shredding what you’ve written. Ripping it up and throwing it away is liberating, says the doc. Clicking that scowling emoji on Facebook won’t give you near the relief.
“It is that physical act of squashing, tearing, destroying negativity that makes all the difference,” Hanscom declares. For 2022: share less, shred more.
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