Often I get the urge to disconnect. To delete Facebook from my phone, to stop the “feed.” To shield myself from the news and to insulate my attention, focusing instead on positivity, on creation, on productivity and betterment.
And yet, I don’t delete the app. I feel a need to stay “connected.” Connected to people, world events, “news.” It feels important to stay up-to-date, and I think that perhaps if I do, there are ways I’ll be able to impact the our world, even in some small way.
My heart aches reading the stories of Syrian refugees, fleeing for their lives to European shores. I wonder if my friends and family in the Middle East are safe today, amidst the violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. Shootings in schools and churches here at home. Volcanic eruptions. Earthquakes. Hurricanes.
It seems unyielding… and somehow addictive.
And, as I’ve almost always found to be the case in my life, no extreme is the ideal response – neither total immersion in the news and social media, nor full insulation from it all.
Today we are each our own network, churning out sentences, paragraphs, images, videos, vines, blog posts, and more, 24/7. We curate our own channels, choosing which stories to run, and which angle to cover, unapologetically coloring world events with our own version of the truth (#nofilter). And we engage in an almost-talmudic conversation with one another, commenting on one another’s comments ad infinitum.
A college professor told me once that Plato said “Those who tell the stories rule society.” In a 2013 article Lee Habeeb takes this one step further. “If Plato were around today, he’d have to add this: ‘Those who own the networks run the culture.’”
So, I return to my question of balance. How much input to allow into my brain, and what sort of output to broadcast to the world?
That first part is difficult. There’s always one more article to read, one more link to like. How do you know when enough is enough? There usually comes a moment when I see an article that makes me think, or a quote that inspires me. Perhaps that is the moment to stop the input, and go create some output.
The answer I keep arriving at, in terms of how to balance the sort of material to put out, is practice. I am often reminded by one of my mentors, it’s about progress, not perfection. I choose to practice storytelling that will lift me up, and with me, the world. That is what I am striving to do in the material I create and share on social media, and also in my work as a filmmaker. It is my hope and intention that anything I put out on my channels will inspire those who allow it into their “feed” and influence them and their actions, and thereby our whole world, for good.