Saturday, March 22, 2014

Widen Your Vision

Social media should be great. They enable us to connect with like minded people and to share our thoughts and opinions. But by ratings, followers and likes, automatic filtering of most popular posts etc, social media became an arena. They became the battle field of ego and the hunting fields of self gratification and self actualization. This has made almost all posts a "like" hunt and when the most horrific pictures and videos are misused to shock us into thinking about real issues a minute or two, just enough to inappropriately click 'like', something is really wrong!

I am not going to discuss the system itself. Although we have created the most effective automated mobbing tools with our social media, it is our own conduct on these platforms that creates the mobbing. It could just as well have turned out to become the most giving paradigm for human connection and communication. What I do want to discuss is some of our conduct.

I am just as touched by images of famine, animal abuse and war as the next person but I do not find it appropriate to use this misery to get likes. Sure, sometimes a shocking image can shake you out of a stupor but be honest, what do you actually do about it? Watch the video? Shed a tear? "Oh soooo true! I have to share it!" After that you probably go about your usual business. If you are really engaged by the issue you may actually donate some money to the cause. But you didn't really change anything for yourself did you? You hope that sharing it and donating money causes others to act for change. The only impact on your own life was a few minutes of shock or sadness.

Before, It was a joy to open my Facebook page and read all the funny and interesting things my friends had created and shared. Today it is with trepidation I open Facebook. Not only is 90% of all post something that people shared instead of created themselves, an alarming amount of the content either ruins my day or literally makes me hurl. But safe us all if somebody shows almost a nipple! It gets censored before you can say "George Orwell" as it may damage the frail minds of the kids that are not allowed to use the system anyway.

Now, again, I do not want to discuss the system and I do not even want to discuss the reasons behind our lust to share misery. It is enough to notice that many of us care about a lot of things and want to give vent to their outrage, sadness or indignation. I am not different myself but I have recognized it in myself and hated myself for doing it. Not because the issues do not deserve the attention but because the way we give attention punishes only ourselves and does nothing to actually change something!

What does it help to see a brutally mutilated elephant while in my own country local authorities, time after time, authorize the hunting down and killing of large predators to satisfy some trivial commercial interest while there are only very few predators left? Even if nothing locally can compare, what can I do about the elephant except cry for it? Well, one thing I suggest we can do is think about why all these things happen. Poachers in Africa are incredibly poor. Sure, many are very criminal too but often only out of desperation to provide for their families. How did that come about? If you start to analyze these things I think you will very soon unravel a pattern: Most of the problems are either directly or indirectly linked to our so called modern way of living and its enforcing culture. The total exploitation of the world's resources benefitting only a few, almost always has a significant part in the causes behind many atrocities in the world. On the plus side, this means that we can actually do something about it!

Instead of sharing the wretchedness we could share a positive attitude and energy to turn things around. Instead of sharing a picture of a dead wolf show a video of a good journalist grilling a responsible bureaucrat on how this can happen at the same time the scientists say exactly the same things about the tigers in India as the wolves in Sweden. Instead of showing a picture of a dog after being dragged behind a car, show a picture or video of the many organizations working with nature based therapy to fight Nature Deficit Syndrome in our kids so they actually value life instead of destroy it for fun.

There are almost no more horrific images put on TV and The Internet than those in the promotional spots of WSPA like organizations. Again they shock us but do they change things? They focus on the needs of the organization to do its work but not so much on the needs of animals and life in general. Instead why not show a trial on TV of the person who dragged the dog after his car skinning it alive. Show the judge giving him a 2 month sentence on probation and later show an interview where that same judge and some politicians are forced to justify that sentence against another one where a person gets 40 years for smoking a joint. Make people want to change things instead of contain things. Share the positive actions undermining the occurrences instead of shocking us into revulsion.

I realize that many of the solutions will seem almost unattainable. That is why we need to radiate positive energy and not negative energy because they are both equally contagious. Once you start changing something in your life that is positive and beyond the ego you will find others helping you and joining in.

I am lucky as my own work deals with changing the attitudes people have towards the living world. I am able to donate time and knowledge that can change things. Granted, in the end its just a drop in the ocean but think what can happen if we all provided a drop.

We should share evidence of the interconnection of all things, share images of the wealth and knowledge from diverse and alternative cultures all over the world, share stories about animals being animals in a world that just simply exists. Not for the benefit of the human animal alone but for life itself.

Lets start by sharing our efforts towards change instead of the gruesome evidence of our paralysis.

Peter Friebel


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