Conversation Makes Change

When you were three years old, you may have thrown a tantrum to get what you wanted. If you are like most kids, however, it probably didn’t work most of the time. Otherwise, you would be kicking and screaming on the floor at age 40 every time you had to do something that you didn’t want to do.  Instead, most of us learn that conversation makes change much more effectively than tantrums.

 

Making Change

 

 Teenagers, who simply fight with their parents about going to a party on Saturday night, are likely to be spending the evening at home. However, those that explain to their parents why they want to go to the party and what they plan to do to ensure their own safety are more likely to convince their parents to let them attend the party.

 

The reason is that the latter group shows both maturity and an understanding, at least subconsciously, of how a person goes about making change.

 

Rioting Does Not Create Change

 

Fighting, resisting, destroying, and creating chaos are sometimes viewed as people seeking change. It is possible for people to lash out in this manner when people are greatly oppressed and restricted from using or unaware of other means to express themselves. However, generally speaking, chaos and destruction are indicators that the person does not have a goal of change for the betterment of all.

 

The Portland riots and the organized mass looting in Chicago and New York City are examples of situations that are not born out of the desire for positive change. Instead, the leaders of these actions clearly have different goals. If they wanted positive change, they would have a conversation. They would attempt to engage with people instead of sucker-punching individuals who wonder too close to their activities. Likewise, they wouldn’t be trying to burn down buildings or steal things that they don’t need. Those actions are clearly designed to create chaos, fear, or to have some other negative result.

 

Limiting Conversation, Limiting The Opportunity For Change

 

Rioters don’t have conversation. They scream at people and try to intimidate them, but they don’t have positive interactions with people. Rioting, however, is not the only way to shut down conversations and change.

 

Facebook and Twitter stop conversation by marking information that differs from their opinion as false. At times, this escalates to the suspension of accounts. In some cases, they ban users completely. You might ask what does this have to do with change and the answer is, “Everything.”

 

Since true positive change comes about through conversation, change cannot occur when conversation is limited and opinions stifled. They would argue that they are eliminating false information. Yet, they are quite selective in the information that they remove. If false information wasn’t allowed, probably at least 50% or more of the information (based on my experience), would be removed.

 

One could argue that their selective methods of censoring are really an attempt to manipulate, silence, and destroy. Thus, the psychological and sociological impact of this behavior is very similar to that of riots. In the end, it divides people further and reinforces their existing opinions, making change impossible.

 

Individuals Stop Change, Too

 

It is not just businesses and rioting people that stop change from happening. Often in the name of change or fairness, individuals will take actions that stop the very change or fairness that they claim they seek.

 

The use of masks is a great example. Some people are constantly in people’s faces yelling about masks and social distancing. Some of them have gone as far as entering another person’s personal space to fight with them over the issue. Even if they are simply constantly posting about it on social media, the problem is that the people who don’t wear masks have tuned them out. They aren’t going to listen to someone who is seemingly yelling and belittling them.

 

The same can be said about those who are strongly opposed to masks. Those people may make fun of people in masks and who social distance. Again, they are not going to reach anyone that way.

 

The Solution

 

So, if you want to open the door to change, be open to dialog about the issue at hand. If you want people to wear masks, don’t demand it or try to intimidate people into wearing one. Instead, talk about your personal experience. Tell why you believe it will be helpful for people to wear one. Likewise, do the same if you believe masks are useless.

 

Similarly, if you want changes in how police interact with the community. Get the police and the community together to have a conversation. Be open. Listen to all opinions. Try to understand someone else’s perspective. And, be willing to work together for a solution that a majority of people can support.

 

The same is true if you want people to understand that information is true, false, or misleading. Don’t call them names or shut down the conversation completely. Instead, calmly discuss the information and why you believe the information is true, false, or misleading. Be prepared to provide sources and know you may be challenged.

 

In summary, the proverb “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” can be applied to change. Because “you can create more positive change with conversation than with tantrums.”

 

To Be Present Or Not To Be Present

To be present or not to be present is a question people consider when going to an event or activity. However, they don’t often consider if they are truly present once they have arrived.

 

Somewhere Else

 

People are experts at not paying attention to what is going on around them. How often have you seen someone walking down the street with their earbuds in talking away and clearly not noticing other pedestrians or motor vehicles? Or, perhaps you have seen the same kind of person texting during a meeting or a family dinner.

 

Matter of fact, at times you may have found yourself paying less than full attention. It may be that you are multi-tasking, focusing on worries or thinking about what could have been.

 

Being Present

The concept of being present is simple. You simply need to pay attention to what is going on around you and brush aside thoughts of other things. This focus, however, is very challenging for people today. Technology and the fast pace of the world contribute to this problem.

 

Yet, without focus on what is happening around you, you cannot be mindful. Likewise, if you are not present, it is very difficult to listen to others and understand the information that they are trying to convey. Additionally, it is impossible to tune into your body to understand the messages that it has for you. Therefore, by not being present, you are basically flying blind.

 

Value of Being Present

If you limit multi-tasking and focus your attention on being present, your eyes will open and you will have the opportunity for a more fulfilling life. You will have better and more meaningful conversations and relationships with people in your life. Furthermore, you will be more in touch with your true feelings and will be more attuned to your body.

 

Moreover, being present opens the door to truly experiencing life instead of simply existing. Every hour you spend being present is an hour that you spend being connected. Although you may be touching a hundred things when you are multi-tasking, you often aren’t connecting with any of them.

 

Taking Action

Therefore, the next time the telephone rings stop what you are doing and really connect to the person on the other end of the call. Likewise, put down all your electronic devices and set aside your thoughts of other things when you are meeting with other people. Whether the meeting is for business or personal reasons, you will gain so much more by actually being there.

 

Choose to be present; choose to be connected!

 

What Social Media Says

So, you may be asking yourself why what you post on social media has anything to do with connections or energy. In reality, what you post shows a lot about your connection to the world. Furthermore, why you post what you post is a pure reflection of your energy and your energetic health. Even your social media platform of choice tells a lot about you.

 

Social Media Platforms

 

The social media platforms that you choose to use are good indicators of age and personality. They tell a lot about where you put your energy. For instance, if you spend most of your time on LinkedIn, you are likely focused on moving ahead in the business world. In contrast, although Facebook allows you to promote your business,  you are much more likely to be focused on being social when using that platform.

 

Social media demographics to inform your brand’s strategy in 2020 defines many other attributes about the users of specific social media platforms. For instance, the social media platform you use can be an indicator of your age, your gender, where you live, whether you are college educated, etc. For instance, Instagram users tend to be older and have greater income than Snapchat users.

 

Even among apps that are similar, the app you choose reflects things about you. For instance, if you choose Twitter, you are more likely a conformist or simply using it out of habit. However, if you choose Parler, you are more likely a free thinker who believes that everyone should have a voice.

 

Types of Posts & Comments

 

The types of things that you choose to post, the posts that you decide to comment on, and the specific messages you share also reflect a lot about your connection to the world and other people.

 

Consider the content of your posts. Perhaps you post about family, business, politics, or nostalgia. Each post also has a style. Do you prefer educational, humorous, or critical thinking posts? Or, perhaps you like posting general posts full of encouraging words. Although you may post several types of things, generally you will find that you have a preferred style, which reflects who you are.

 

Additionally, those things that you do not share, also tells about your connection with the world. Perhaps you choose to keep your political views private. This may not mean that you don’t have strong views. Instead, it may imply that you like to avoid drama, preferring harmony.

 

Reasons for Posts & Comments

 

Reflecting on the “why” behind your posts and comments can be very enlightening. Consider your motivators. It is important to realize what it is that you hope to gain from your posts. For instance, people that troll others on social media, generally desire to upset or anger others. They are looking for an explosive response.

 

Your reasons are likely more positive. You may simply desire an outlet to share news or happenings. On the other hand, you feel that it is your duty to convince people of something, such as, to wear a mask or to vote for the political candidate of your choice.

 

Energetic Health

 

As long as your motivation and your words are positive, you are likely energetically healthy. However, if you find yourself sharing negative things with others or trying to convince people that someone or something is bad, it is time to check in energetically.

 

Continual negativity is extremely unhealthy. Over time, a negative energetic focus can manifest as emotional, mental, or physical issues. Even being exposed to other people’s negativity can be harmful. Therefore, it is healthy to not only keep your posts focused on positive topics, but to also avoid other people’s negativity.

 

With social media, you can avoid negativity by limiting posts and comments on negative or emotionally charged topics. If you see something that bothers you, look at the options on that platform for limiting your exposure to those items. You may be able to hide specific content (e.g. a specific post or specific language). Likewise, you may be able to unfollow or block a user who spews negativity.

 

Remember to put your energetic health first. If you see negativity showing up often, take steps to lessen it. You will actually feel better.

 

 

The Salem Witch Trials

I have always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials. The belief that witchcraft was behind unexplained fits of young girls resulted in accusations of witchcraft being thrown in every direction is quite intriguing. I would love to know what “caused” those symptoms the girls displayed. The bigger question, however, is . . . Why did accusations of witchery become popular in 1692?

 

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692

 

Looking back at what is known about the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials, we find young girls behaving in an unusual manner. Not knowing what caused the behavior, it was believed that the girls were possessed by the devil. They then accused three women of being witches and bringing this upon them. Thus, the first case of witchery came to trial.

 

Oddly, there were other girls that soon exhibited the same symptoms. Hence more cases. Still, more and more accusations abounded in Salem and other areas more distant. By May of that year, there were so many cases that a special court was appointed to handle them.

 

Even upstanding members of the community were accused and found guilty of being witches. Rebecca Nurse, a possible distant relative of mine, was one of those people. In her case, they found her not guilty, then guilty, then she received a reprieve, and finally she was hung. She was 71 and was supported by a large number of people in the community. Yet, it didn’t save her.

 

In most cases, however, men and women were found guilty based solely on the accusation. None of them were allowed to have lawyers and had a difficult time defending themselves. Have you ever tried proving that you aren’t a witch?

 

The question was . . . Why were so many people so willing to believe that members of the community were witches? Speculation includes that the people funneled their fear of outsiders and other fears into the witchcraft hysteria.

 

The hysteria quickly wound down and dissipated in 1693. Many of the convicted witches were later fully exonerated. Unfortunately, it was too late for those who were hung or died in prison.

 

McCarthyism

 

In 1953, Arthur Miller brought the Salem Witch Trials to life in his play “The Crucible.” He was driven to write the play because of current events. At the time, Senator Joseph McCarthy used “witch hunts” in the name of stopping the spread of communism.

 

McCarthy was a fearmonger, constantly stirring the fear of Communism, which was very pervasive in the 1950s. The fear was so strong that many people were accused of being communist or communist sympathizers. Many of them lost their jobs or were blacklisted despite not belonging to the Communist Party. Others were afraid to object for fear that they, too, would be given the badge of communist.

 

Those accused were investigated or questioned before panels. Like the Salem Witch Trials, accusations were often accepted even when there was a lack of evidence. Likewise, the risk the person posed to the country was often elevated. Still, the damage was done although many decisions would later be reversed or determined to be illegal.

 

Repeating The Past

 

It is 2020 and despite the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing due process we are again repeating the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials have been modernized, but they still have the same principle of guilt by accusation.

 

In today’s world, you aren’t likely to be hung after an unfair trial where you have to defend yourself. Instead you are “cancelled” by a decision of the Internet mob. In cancel culture, you aren’t given a chance to defend yourself at all. The Internet mob decides what is right and what is wrong. You can be found guilty by association. Worse yet, you can be found guilty for not publicly taking a stance on an issue at all.

 

It seems that like in 1692, fear has driven the world a bit mad. Today it isn’t a fear of witches or communism that is behind the accusations. Yet, it remains a fear based on people being different and having different perspectives.

 

The Tech Giants and the mob rule simply do not allow for free thought and conversation. They have decided to take the law into their own hands and change all the rules. One and only one opinion is allowed in the social media court. Wish to explain yourself or even to apologize and you just may find yourself banned from the platform.

 

If you think it is only people with extremist viewpoints that are banned, I suggest you do more research. Like Rebecca Nurse, who was an upstanding citizen respected by many, you may be accused if you don’t parrot “the stance” perfectly.

 

What We Can Learn?

 

So, what can we learn from our current situation? First, history does repeat itself unless you learn from it. Clearly, we have not yet learned this lesson.

 

Second, there are many dimensions to being different. Anytime someone is condemned simply because they are different it is wrong.

 

Third, judging without a fair trial or worse without any facts is a disgrace. And, it means that a majority of the time you will be wrong.

 

And, fourth, fear can drive people to act a little crazy. As discussed in our recent article “Why Fear,” Franklin D. Roosevelt was correct when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

 

The bottom line is that we need to learn to accept people who are different – no matter what that difference may be. They may look different, act different, express their feelings in a different way, have different religious beliefs, have different political beliefs, raise their family in a different way, etc.

 

This sentiment was echoed on a Little House on the Prairie rerun as I was writing this article. Laura was pleading with the people of Walnut Grove to stop a woman who was considered odd from leaving town. Laura said, “So what if she was different? We’re all different!”

 

Social Media

 

 

Social media usage has risen dramatically over the last decade. In 2018, Pew Research stated that 68% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook. * A lower percentage of adult Americans use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat than Facebook. However, none of the platforms dips below 20% and the total numbers are quite significant although even considering overlap of usage between apps.

 

The reason for the rise in social media usage is a combination of general industry growth, desire to connect, business demands, and a desire for attention. The industry has grown as new platforms evolved – each with its own focus and its own attraction to various age groups and types of businesses.

 

Desire To Connect

 

The initial boom in social media – and what keeps it going – is the desire for people to connect. Although you can know what is happening around the world almost instantaneously, people are not as connected to those around them as they were 100 or even 50 years ago. Thus, people turn to social media to (re-)connect with their family and friends that are often spread around the world.

 

People also join groups of like-minded people to discuss issues that are relevant to them, such as, parenting, hiking, or genealogy. Thus, people connect with new people and often receive support for the challenges that they are facing in life.

 

Business

 

As these platforms have grown, businesses have turned to them as a way to connect to their clients. They utilize these platforms for advertising, event announcements, and client engagement. They have replaced some of the traditional marketing methods and are especially important in the coveted 18-49 market, as they are the highest users of social media. It has also allowed businesses to expand their client base in new ways.

 

Desire For Attention

 

For some people, however, the use of social media isn’t really to connect with anyone. It is simply to draw attention to themselves. They use it to dramatize their life or a life that they choose to portray. Often, they play on people’s emotions, gaining attention from people they don’t even know. One must assume that they are starved for attention in real life. Thus, they create a more exciting or dramatic life online by making sure that people notice them. As a result, they gain the attention that they desire.

 

Cause Disruption

 

Some of these attention seekers take it a step further. They purposefully attempt to anger people and create arguments. These trolls never provide real facts and are quick to make highly judgmental statements. If those don’t create enough rage, they will turn to name calling and personal attacks. These trolls gain attention for themselves, but the joy they get is in seeing other people angry. Nothing makes them go away quicker than a calm, logical response where you completely ignore their inflammatory statements.

 

As you can see, there are good, bad, and ugly aspects of social media. It is important to prop up the good. The rest is something that we all have to work together to overcome. Thus, the next time you see an inflammatory statement or post consider what is going to create a positive outcome. If we could make everything on social media positive for even one day, it could change the world!

 

 

*https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/