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.

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The Tao of Pooh

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Last week something strange happened. Well, something I think is strange, anyhow. It has to do with what I call the “mystery box” that is social media and the internet. For four years now I’ve been operating our sangha’s facebook page, Be Here Now Community. In those four years we’ve accumulated around 360 page likes. I post on it pretty much everyday – things regarding our sangha or mindfulness center, quotes I stumble upon, recommended books, mindfulness articles, nice pictures, and the like. Lately our posts reach about 100-200 people on average (so facebook tells me). We hardly ever receive comments or post “likes,” and it would be super rare that someone “share” one of our posts. So our page, while active with posts, has been small potatoes in the land of facebook, with very little activity by way of engagement of visitors.

Well, over the last week things have changed very rapidly with our (and my) first experience with a viral post. On April 14th I posted this on our sangha’s facebook page:

“Say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I said.
“Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
“Yes, but —”
“Why ruin it?” he said.
“But you could be doing something Important,” I said.
“I am, ” said Pooh.
“Oh? Doing what?”
“Listening,” he said.
“Listening to what?”
“To the birds. And that squirrel over there.”
“What are they saying?” I asked.
“That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
“But you know that already,” I said.
“Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too,” he replied.

– From the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

What I thought was a nice, simple offering on our page turned out to awaken a LOT of people from all parts of the globe. As of  right now this post has reached 2,704,978 people. It’s been shared 24,387 times, has 2,189 comments, and over 42,000 have “liked’ or “loved” it. This post has also gained us 3,754 more page likes. Holy Toledo! I’ve never claimed to understand the magical workings of social media but this one really boggles my mind. It has been incredibly fascinating watching these numbers soar ever upwards over the last few days. It has me wondering: What is it about this post from the Tao of Pooh that has struck people so strongly?

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Social Media + Mindfulness

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I used to be really against delving into the social media realm.  It used to be something I felt a bit self-righteous about as well, as in: “I’m better than you because I’m not on Facebook.”  It’s a little hard to admit, but it’s true.

But after a recent writer’s conference and having the message of: If you want to be a writer you need to be on social media drilled into me by all of the published authors I saw in different workshops (yes, they ALL spoke to it) I dove head first into the waters of social media.  In the span of only one or two days I formed a personal facebook page, a twitter account, pinterest page, and looked into creating my own website.  If I had a smartphone I would’ve started an instagram account as well, but I don’t so I didn’t.

I’ve been operating a facebook page for our local sangha (Be Here Now Community) for the past 4 years or so but without a personal page of my own the functions available to me on facebook had been quite limited until recently.  So when I opened a personal facebook page it was rather overwhelming figuring out how things worked.  And twitter was, and still is, rather a mystery to me.  I don’t pretend to understand really what I’m doing on twitter and what I “should” be tweeting about.

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