I have a confession to make.
I am a prolific Facebook poster. Social media has been a means of connecting with kindred spirits worldwide. I am indeed a people person and do have many face-to-face friends as well, not just those I encounter in cyberspace. It has also been a way of spreading the word about the work I do and to share the articles I write for various venues.
It has become a platform for expression, much like a blank painting canvas. Each time I pause to consider what I want to offer those who visit my pages, I imagine folks reading the messages that come through. Some profound and poignant, some silly and sassy. I write for an audience of one (myself initially) and many. What I share is for my own healing and revelation and that of others. The feedback I receive is that it moves people and has them considering new ways of envisioning their lives. Quite gratifying as I find that the personal and universal can blend seamlessly.
Over the years, friends have referred to me as a 'spiritual Dear Abby.' I rather fancy that idea, having been a therapist for more than three decades whose brain gets picked often for resources and guidance. Some days, the pickins' can be slim, but I do my best.
Recently, I asked Facebook friends this question: Do you find yourself censoring your status updates for fear of disapproval? I have friends who put it all out there, without hesitation ... or if they do hesitate, go ahead and do it anyway and there are others who, for all kinds of reasons, are more circumspect.
My rule is that I don't write anything that I don't want the whole world to know, since they could. I ask myself the purpose. Mostly it is the name of authenticity or bonding with others. What if we could be genuine; kindly and with filters operational? By putting it all out on the line, no one need say that we were hiding anything or keeping secrets from them. With me, what you see is what you get. So much more freeing than living as the chameleon that I used to be.
I have become what I refer to as a 'soul stripper,' who peels off they layers to reveal the real, instead of piling on protection because the propriety police might be watching. The fear was that people would judge, run screaming in disbelief and disdain. As I entered into my mid 50's, I became less invested in the approval of others and more in the opinions of the woman in the mirror, since I live with her 24/7 and will until she takes her last breath.
The Facebook hive mind rendered all kinds of wonderful responses to the query, some of which I share here:
"Personally, if it's an issue I have a passion about, I'll put it on my Facebook from time to time. Other times, I'll just reply on another friends site or a site which talks about a particular issue I have an interest in. Lately though, I've cut back just for the simple reason that it's my site and I would rather fill it up with useful and positive things in life. Doesn't mean my head is stuck in the sand, but there will be times that putting certain issues on my site all the time gets me quite depressed about the state of the world we're all in."
"I'm an open book. I choose what is helpful, no need to say everything."
"Sometimes people put it "all" out there to make themselves feel like they're open when in fact it's just another ego identity that they've connected with. Just because someone shares deep, dark feelings doesn't always mean they're open, sometimes they're just venting or looking for a reaction and it's labeled "openness."
"I consciously put out positive messages and stay away from negativity and politics."
"As you know, for better or worse, I am consistently who I am - right out loud."
"I know I have a struggle with keeping my mouth shut when I really want to blast a version on "my truth" or an observation of another person's attitude or behavior. I try to remember not to go personal. But it is hard! Smart people doing foolish things confound me."
"WYSIWYG for me, not to antagonize others but to stand up for what I believe in or give folks a genuine laugh at real-life stuff."
"This is an interesting topic. As you know I'm opinionated, passionate, unfiltered, and I have a potty mouth. I'm bound to piss some folks off. If I fear responses I don't want, I just block them from that post."
"I have adopted being me on Facebook. I am retired and what you see is what you get. My daughter and a few friends have unfriended me. It is what it is. I am finally the best me I know how to be and feel great about it."
" I used to put more out on Facebook. Now I do not. Not for fear of disapproval, I don't think. For ME it is a growing awareness of how my feelings DO shift over time and the pit I might be in right now WILL change, and honestly fairly soon. So do I want to put that darkness out there? Now, I am also totally aware of how many people are like me and go thru dark times. So there have been times I have posted the darkness so that people know they are not alone. I guess what I AM very careful about is posting something that is passive aggressively a dig at someone. Even someone who is NOT on Facebook. While heaven knows people do this all the time, I do not wish to be in that sort of drama. So, I really think about that. If my posting would be even in part a dig......I will not post."
My intention always is to provoke thought, open minds and hearts, as well as to make the world a kinder and more loving place, collectively. Are there times when people's comments push my buttons? Sure. If I find myself wanting to react viscerally, I take a step back and breathe, asking myself how I want to respond instead. I attempt to see their perspective and realize that if I had their experiences and interpreted them as they did, I might do what they do.
I see my pages as playgrounds where people can come hang out on the monkey bars, swings and sandbox. My rule is that they are welcome to post their own stuff as long as it is not racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or otherwise violent. Mostly, they play nicely, don't throw sand or run with scissors. With delight, I see that they often color outside the lines, dance with abandon and sing out loud.
Blessedly, I have not had many 'haters' or trolls on my page. Interestingly, on the rare occasion that has occurred, I have felt that my friends have had my back and like Mama and Papa Bears, have taken a protective stance and spoken up on my behalf. The one throwing stones generally slinks back into their cave of solitude.
I am also greatly inspired by what others post. Their creativity and passion for life gets my juices flowing too. Imagine a planet on which people shared good news to stir others to do the same. Social media is one portal through which we can birth that world.