In today’s digital world, you have access to millions of bits of data from a variety of sources. It feels unlimited at times. The internet has been a huge game-changer in terms of what’s out there. Unfortunately, not all the information is true. Anyone can publish anything today. They don’t have to provide any facts to back it up and, even if they provide some, we don’t really know if the source is credible, if the source may be tainted in one direction or another or even if it’s real. What’s to stop me from making up an organization and saying they are a leading expert in the field, quoting someone falsely or editing a video so it comes across in a completely different manner than the original version, whether that be through taking part of it out of context or actually slicing up the content and restructuring it? This stuff happens all the time.
While it’s wonderful to have such an abundance of information, it comes at a great cost and a great responsibility for each of us. We don’t know what to believe…what to trust…what is worth sharing with others and we must be mindful of that fact when we make choices around what we put out into the world.
Every day you have a choice as to how you will show up in the world. I recently engaged in a conversation on Facebook. Everything I shared was around not wanting to debate anything, just provide different perspective and create an invitation to be mindful of what they were putting out there for all the reasons I share here. My husband asked me why I would waste my time, as he put it, on that conversation. My reply was that I didn’t feel it was a waste of time to encourage people to be good, kind and mindful. The fact is, there is some truth to what he said…it wasn’t a waste of my time but not a great use of my energy. You see, I missed a key piece from the get go. I was commenting on a video being shared but the video was actually irrelevant. Her post read “divide and conquer” along with that video. I missed that she and I have very different values. Her desire was to divide and conquer. My desire was to connect and be open. There’s a pretty large gap in between and sometimes that gap is too large to close. Had I paid closer attention to her intention, I maybe would have made a different choice…maybe not so much engagement after the first offer to see the bigger picture and be mindful about what’s being put out into the world…I’m not sure.
Today, I offer you that same perspective…an invitation to be mindful around what you put out into the world…to be mindful of what you believe to be true and what you know to be true before you share it with others and call it fact. You must understand that not all information is created equally. One of my favorite stories is about 2 boys and a dog. The two boys are playing in a room. In walks a dog. They stop playing and one boy gets all excited and runs over to the dog to play. The other boy, terrified, runs to the closet and hides. How many dogs are in that room? The answer is three. The playful loving dog the one boy sees, the scary mean dog the other boy sees, and then the actual dog who we currently know nothing about. Because the one boy had positive experiences with dogs in the past, he chose to only see the good and could have gotten severely injured had this dog not been kind. The other boy had negative experiences with dogs in the past and only saw this dog as mean and might have missed out on a really joyful experience because he didn’t take the time to interact and play with that dog. The dog itself…we’ll never really know what kind of dog it was, unless we choose to personally interact and do our homework.
Information is much the same. We can’t assume it’s one way or the other. We have to do real research and get up in the facts as best as we can before making a choice to believe or spread information into the world. We must make the choice to be mindful of where information comes from, both in source and in perspective, before making a decision to share it. If we don’t absolutely know something to be true, it’s best not shared.
Byron Katie talks about our stories. She shares a method of breaking down your story into what is true. This method includes viewing the information from the perspective of a court of law. If you were to look at each piece of information in a story, would it hold up in a court of law? Is it hearsay? Were you there? How do you know what you know? Where did the information come from? What is your personal experience with the source? etc. etc. Under this process of analyzing, we’ll find very few details in a story to be true. We’ll find a whole lot of stuff that’s been added in to either support a specific agenda or is based on someone’s personal experiences and beliefs or a combination of the two.
It is irresponsible to spread information you don’t know to be true. It is challenging to take the time to be mindful but it must become a practice for each of us. There is enough fighting in the world…enough division. Why someone would want to create more is something I can’t understand. Well, that’s not entirely true…I do understand why…it just rarely comes from a kind and loving place. I wonder, if we stripped away all the layers of bs and got down to simply the information that would hold up in that court of law…how much fighting there would actually be. My guess is we’d see a huge decline and I’d be all over that. How about you?