Mindful Speech on Social Media

My husband Mike and I just finished watching the documentary Jim & Andy, the Great Beyond about Jim Carrey’s role in Man on the Moon, where he played the comedian Andy Kaufman. It was so fantastic and Buddhist inspired that we googled the phrase: Is Jim Carrey a Buddhist. In doing so, we came across this article – on the nature of being human, having, and then healing, from depression, and letting go of our ideas of self – with accompanying short video, which was so lovely and inspiring that I wanted to share it (I would also super recommend watching the doc mentioned above): https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/11/jim-carrey-explains-depression-in-the-best-way-ive-ever-heard/

In my zeal to want to support people in helping to reduce the collective and crippling stigma around matters concerning mental illness, I posted the above quote and link on our Be Here Now Community facebook page. While we have a fairly hefty following, considering we’re a small Montana-based mindfulness group, which clocks in at over 6,700 page likes, we don’t often get many comments on our posts, which I tend to fashion on the daily. But within short order, this particular post received this comment:

If I was as ignorant as this moron I would be depressed too!

Hmm. Welp. What is the most skillful action to take here, I pondered? The options seemed pretty clear. I could either leave the comment and do nothing. I could erase the comment. Or I could fashion a response, knowing that my reply, while written to the commenter, would be more intended to reach our followers and perhaps serve as a teaching moment in regards to how to respond with mindful, loving speech to hater-types on social media. Upon consulting with my husband, we quickly decided that erasing it, while easy to do, would be squelching the potential for dialog, and potentially keep people from feeling as though our community is a place where they can be heard and accepted, regardless of their views and whether or not we all agree with one another (which is an unrealistic impossibility anyway!). Simply leaving it untended to seemed to be the least skillful action to take – so crafting a response it was!

Here’s what I said in reply:

Hello _(insert person’s name here)__, while this is not typically the sort of comment we like to support, as skillful and loving speech is something we put great value on as a practice, every one is very much entitled to their own opinions, so we’d prefer not to simply erase it. On behalf of our community, with all due respect – truly – our views and ideas of others are incomplete and pitted with misunderstandings. We cannot presume to know anyone well, even those who are closest to us, as we see them through the lenses of our own experiences. May your day and night be well and to your liking. With Care, Nicole Dunn, Be Here Now program director.

NOTE: I originally signed the post as Be Here Now Community, in the interest of wanting to protect myself a bit from being potentially receiving personal backlash, but I quickly edited it and put my name instead, as it felt cleaner and more true to who I am as someone who puts great importance on showing up as authentically as possible.

His reply was as follows:

Maybe you should be more careful who you put on a pedestal for your followers, of which I am not one, to learn from. Here is just one example of the ignorance this man spews into our society. (article content below)

___________

He then included a link to this article (which I’m including here in full):

Jim Carrey had an added challenge for Kathy Griffin in the wake of her controversial photo shoot where she posed with a severed fake head resembling President Donald Trump.

“Kathy Griffin, hold up a severed leg as well,” the comedian said at the premiere of his new Showtime dramedy “I’m Dying Up Here” on Wednesday night.

Adding, “I don’t know if it’s funny, but I don’t think the joke is the problem.”

Carrey argued that Griffin didn’t cross the line — because he said there is no line to cross.

“It’s the job of the comedian to cross the line at all times,” he told Entertainment Tonight at the premiere. “That line is not real and if you step out into that spotlight and you’re doing the crazy things that [Trump is] doing, we’re the last line of defense. The comedians are the last voice of truth in this whole thing. It’s impossible to get away from it.”

Although he didn’t act on it, Carrey said he had his own fantasy about the president.

“I had a dream the other night that I was playing golf with Donald Trump,” Carrey said. “I was standing beside him with a club in my hand and I was considering my options when I suddenly woke up. It was one of those dreams where you want to go back to sleep so you can finish it, you know? But I’ve taken up golf anyway.”

Griffin faced immediate backlash for the photo stunt and was subsequently fired by CNN,where she co-hosts the annual New Year’s Eve program with Anderson Cooper.

The picture was taken down, and Griffin posted a lengthy apology video on Twitter.

“I sincerely apologize,” Griffin said. “I’m just now seeing the reaction to these images. I’m a comic. I crossed the line. I moved the line, then I crossed it. I went way too far.”

After provoking Griffin, Carrey took a moment to get existential about the ordeal.

“Don’t worry about it, don’t worry for your existence. All of this is meaningless. So relieved about that,” he said. “Seriously, everybody is very worried right now and I just try to tell people, all of creation is just God’s fidget spinner.”

__________

The last thread of this dialog was my reply to his comment and article posting:

I appreciate your sharing this article. Please know that it is not our intention to put anyone on a pedestal but rather to help support people with tools and resources that might be helpful, which we judge that our originally posted article has the potential to be for our friends who live with depression and mental illness, and the social stigmas surrounding these chronic, complex, and often devastating ailments. We are not interested in deeming anyone as better or worse than anyone else, only in trying to help give rise to more awareness and understanding. Again, thank you for posting and for sharing your experience.  – Nicole

I thought it worth including this exchange here on my blog, as perhaps it will give rise to possible ideas of how to engage more skillfully on social media, and with those who hold differing and sometimes strong opinions – which is an act that benefits us all.

Mindful posting and communicating, my friends. We’re all in this together! And thank goodness for that!

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