I heard someone impugn social media recently as a “superficial, attention seeking” behavior. While I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion no matter how biased or ill informed this articulate, well educated person also didn’t use social media. So they, like others before them on other topics, judged the environment from too small a sampling of data and little personal experience.
How often have we all done that? We see something in the mainstream media – typically a 30 second spot written for 8th graders – and use this as the basis of our opinion on a world matter. Even more damaging we see the worst examples of a situation or location and assume this covers the whole gamut of human experience. What happened in New York on 9/11 does not define the day to day experience of Montana today.
A well considered, spiritual life rejects these habits. There is little on our planet that is all good or all bad. Those judgements themselves are entirely subjective based on your situation, cultural upbringing, religious tradition, gender and a host of other factors. From a more deeply spiritual perspective the question is not about good or bad but about the increase or reduction of that persons suffering by their standards not ours. Further, as we are all deeply interconnected – in fact one consciousness only separated by the illusion of individual self – any reduction or increase in suffering impacts us all. Well trained practitioners of spirituality and magic accept the responsibility to “Do no harm” as our most binding magical vow.
The difficulty with the practical application of this is what might reduce my suffering during a difficult time e.g. staying connected with dear family and friends over social media might increase someone else’s suffering e.g. wanting total privacy during that same event. What to do? In social media terms it’s easy: create a private group, ensure no public posts, don’t tag people with their names and have an open conversation about different styles of emotional support. In other situations about issues surrounding the nature of family, gay rights, women’s rights or humane treatment of animals it’s not so clear.
To evolve on the spiritual path and stay true to my cherished vows as a Wiccan Priestess and Weaver I’ve found it helpful to embrace a few key teachings which I have found across traditions:
1. Hold Loosely Formed Opinions Until Educated: I attempt to withhold forming immovable opinions of a person, situation or location until I’ve had personal experienced, been taught by an expert or conducted my own research. Even then my opinions are subject to change when faced with new information. When conducting magic I always include the prayer, “Thy will be done not mine.” That prayer is said to my own version of my Higher Power, my ancestors, my guides and the elemental energies I’m working with.
2. Technology and Magic can be Used for Either Good or Ill: The intent of Magic is in the heart of the Witch and the same is true with technology. The cursory glance prior to the inditement of an entire system based on the lowest or most obvious denominator of behavior can rob you of true knowledge and its derivative wisdom. Kim Kardashian’s over exposed use of social media should not to be compared with Deepak Chopra, the Egyptians during their uprising or the makers of Blackfish who deeply care about the well being of the Orcas in captivity. Similarly not all Wiccan or Pagan traditions or practitioners are the same.
3. Identify Your Biases: We all have them. I’m more likely to be pro-environment, pro-choice and pro-women. It takes less to convince me that people I identify as “my tribe” have good intentions. And yet I’ve had some wonderful stimulating conversations with extremely conservative people which have been profoundly enlightening. It is a choice to be open to varying opinions not just those that match our own. My global community is tight knit and are almost all digital natives or converts. We use SMS and social media like former generations used the telephone. Most of us also believe in a conscious Universe that we participate in creating. Therein lies the Magic.
4. Being Teachable Means Being Willing to be Wrong: If everything I think at this moment is entirely accurate where is the room for growth? To continue to evolve I must assume that things I hold dear today could be wrong tomorrow. If I can embrace this as a gift I can continually evolve, grow and learn till I take my last breath. People talk about continual learning. Often they do not understand that the requirement for this is to let go of your existing knowledge and opinions to make room for new ones.
5. Put Effort into Finding Workable Compromises: Opening your heart to a kind and workable path devoid of ego is a key step to finding your magical power. Being able to construct workable compromises with your partner, family and co-workers is the application of this teaching. Leaving your ego at the door enables you to divine the best path for those involved which sometimes means learning to appreciate different ideas and opinions. Sometimes conflicts are unavoidable but they can still be approached from a place of love and peace-seeking rather than control or suppression.
At the end of the day, we reap what we sow. I believe that my personal efforts to emanate positive energy through all means possible has an effect on the people I love and my karmic destiny. I use social media as a method to increase my circle of positive influence. Until everyone is clairvoyant and can read the ripples in the Quantum Field this will have to do.
For me, intention is everything.