And social media is our bolus button.
My goodness I needed to read your article this morning. I have tears in my eyes. I can feel, sometimes, how manipulative posts are and have really been starting to wonder how to work my way through the social media morass. My lived experience with people is way more trustworthy than a random post. I love that you're willing to share your feelings - the frustration, the anger, the judgy bits, but most of all the hope. Thank you so much, and keep challenging us.
This resonates so much! I will say, one of the greatest gifts AA has given me (other than, ya know, liberation from being a complete and total waste case of a drunken drug-addled mess 24/7/365) is the mindset of approaching people's experiences, strength, hope, and stories from a place of identifying IN rather than identifying OUT. (For those not in the rooms/familiar, basically it means, look for the things you have in common with someone rather than the places where your stories differ.)
Pretty much everything I've learned in recovery has become a way I strive to use while moving through the world. I'm far from perfectly successful, but at least I have a blueprint I can return to when I realize that the structure I'm building on self-will is about to crumble down on top of me and my best thinking. Thank you, Nadia, for this beautiful and poignant essay.
I’ve become very conscious of the algorithms that try to push me to “unfriend” anyone who disagrees with me on various political issues. It honestly leaves me feeling irritated and manipulated whenever I spend anytime on Facebook. Everyone I know feels this way, yet none of them want to do anything as crazy as deactivating Facebook and going back to calling each other on the phone. Or even just agreeing to join me on a private GroupMe or Slack channel.
The addictiveness of social media is very real and I have no idea how to work around that. So many friends of mine don’t communicate any other way now, and everything they say about political issues sounds like they’re reciting a script fed to them by those bots you mentioned.
It’s as if people know they’re being manipulated but the rage and self-righteousness feels so good, they don’t care.
Nadia, this has been an inhale of a post. I feel more human after having read. It has inspired a new piece of liturgy for me. Sharing below.
More Than I Need an Enemy—A Prayer of Examen
For when I needed you to be poor in order for me to be good,
For when I needed you to be wrong in order for me to be faithful,
For when I needed you to be monstrous in order for me to be inclusive,
For when I needed you to be repulsive in order for me to have worth,
For when I needed you to be controlled in order for me to be safe,
For when I needed you to be silenced in order for me to be empowered,
For when I needed you to be reduced in order for me to be alive,
For when I needed you to have sin in order for me to be justified,
For when I needed you to be guilty in order for me to be decisive,
For when I needed you to be ashamed in order for me to be validated,
For when I needed an enemy in order for me to be a human,
Our God makes good out of nothing, so says the universe and the scriptures.
Conquerors are not needed for victory. We can be more.
Death is not needed for Heaven. We can bring it here.
Understanding is not needed for peace. We can be heard.
Oppression is not needed for power. We can know it within.
Punishment is not needed for justice. We can trust mercy.
War is not needed for wealth. We can share our lives.
Fear is not needed for action. We can be more creative.
Kings are not needed for change. We can transform from the margins.
Perfection is not needed for joy. We can welcome it without pretext.
Enemies are not needed for purpose. We can rise without resistance.
Creator, make for me a mirror of my other, that I may know my humanity is found in theirs.
Redeemer, example for me the goodness of your way, that I may be shaped for true liberation.
Sustainer, illuminate the relationship of our souls, that I may trust in my darkest hours that my need for them is greater than my need for an enemy.
Until the world is healed, Amen.
I also finally “got” that those random surveys and questions i.e. “there are no words that start and end with g” duh GAG are bots or marketing ploys for directing certain ads to us. Profile building. Then they can determine exactly what floats or sinks your boat. Nadia has expanded to include this bewildering division, even hatred, we are experiencing. We are manipulated by the media as well. Add all of this together and we have a bit of a mess. I’m not good at it, but I try to find something redeeming in everyone I meet. And if I don’t find anything, it’s probably that I forgot to turn off my judgment filter. In any case, we must try to focus on our similarities. We are all, each and every one of us, made in the image of God. That’s a pretty good place to start.
I read something awhile back to the effect of "homosexuality is a test to see if people can overcome it" and HS put this on my heart... yes, it is a test but not in the way it's presented. God made us all different and then instructed us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. The test isn't about if we can change the way God made us to fit into some social construct a.k.a. "pray the gay away" (spoiler alert: we can't.) Rather the test is whether or not we can love our neighbors despite our differences. It's really easy to get mad and say "yeah... just love the (insert disenfranchised group here.) What is hard for me is flipping it around and realizing it also means love the MAGAs or NRAs etc. etc. When I was growing up, my mom always told us "you don't always have to like your siblings, but you always have to love them." I guess this is the same. Score another one for mom!
Your words helped me recognize this issue in a very tangible way. My friend’s mother is over 80. My friend’s sister-in-law told the 80-year-old not to get the vaccine because it would put the mark of Cain on her. I immediately despised the sister-in-law, a woman I have never met, as an Evangelical wing nut who was putting people’s lives at risk. And then, when the 80-year-old was hospitalized after back surgery and heart issues, and in need of care while recovering, the sister-in-law stepped in with loving care. I had to face the fact that I had despised this woman in total, when her vaccine stance is not the sum of her. Lord have mercy.
Makes me think of Flannery O'Connor's short story "Revelation" where the main character sees a procession of souls whose "virtues had been burned away". Just listened to a CAC podcast with Richard McLaren and Richard Rohr and they mentioned you and your phrase "cult of innocence". God does not love us because we are good, but because God is. Thank you so much.
I’m tempted to re-write 1 Timothy 6:10
“The need to feel better than others is the root of all kinds of evil.”
Thanks! I needed to read this today, especially when my first thought was, “I hope they’re reading this”. An instant later, I realized exactly what I’d done, and revised that thought to, it’s absolutely me she’s speaking to at this moment.
To quote Pogo (old comic strip): “We have seen the enemy and he are us.” If I put in the work I truly believe “all will be well, all will be well, in all manner of things all will be well.”
Jesus is such a scrooge!!! Taking away all that shiny stuff. :)
Well done Nadia. As always what I needed to hear and wasn’t even sure I needed to. Tku❣️
So needed this reinforcement as I have been working to emerge from this veil of "this v. that side" and trying to better look upon people with heavenly rather than human eyes.
Tom Lehrer circa 1966 commenting on National Brotherhood Week from the album That Was the Year that Was: “I’m sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, but there are people in this world who do not love one another, and I HATE people like that!”
(My parents bought that album when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I think even at that age I got it.)
Thanks for recommending The Righteous Mind book. I’m reading it and really enjoy it. I pray often that God would give me a gentle spirit towards my family and others who think and believe so differently than my wife and I. I’ve been too much of an a—hole in the past.