Changing

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She’s changing the world with love and compassion. That sounds erroneously self-important doesn’t it? Don’t worry I think so too but I also think it’s the best way to describe who I want to be.

Today I could go on Facebook and see hundreds of posts filled with violence. There may be news reports of a school shooting, someone live-streaming a fight in the parking lot, or pictures of horrifically abused animals and children. And while I believe its critically important to talk about these issues, I think society has become utterly desensitized to the images, so much so that scrolling past them barely phases us.

In a world that swipes through pictures that should disturb us, I want to remain sensitive to these pictures because they show me what needs to be changed in the world. Pictures of suffering peoples should be intolerable to see because they reveal the dire circumstances that exist and need to be fixed. I think in order to change the world you have to remain affected by it.

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Photo courtesy of freerangestock.com and Chance Agrella 

I don’t believe I can singlehandedly change the world; create world peace and end hunger. Those are lofty goals that are far beyond what one person can achieve. Instead I believe that remaining sensitive in a world that forces us to be hard is the first step to changing the status quo.

When I feel outraged by the President’s dangerous actions, no longer can I be indifferent; I am motivated to become a better activist. When I see a news report on a school shooting, I ask what can be done to prevent this unnecessary violence.

I can honestly say that some days I wish I could turn the sadness off. There are days when closing my eyes and saying lalalala as loud as I possibly can are appealing, but on those days it’s more important than ever to act lovingly and compassionately.

My philosophy class has been discussing the Dalai Lama’s Ethics of a New Millennium, in which his holiness describes why the world is in need of a spiritual revolution. He argues that we have become self absorbed, too focused on our own troubles to be in solidarity with others. His statement is not meant as a rebuke of society, especially western society, but rather as a wake up call; a call for our actions to be made with the good of others in mind.

I am not perfect nor would I ever claim to be. To follow the Dalai Lama’s indictment is to radically shift my thought process so that I am consistently thinking about others before myself, which is – and surely will continue to be – a long process. But if I have to contain myself within a sentence, she’s changing the world with love and compassion, is what I strive for it to be.

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Social Media and the Death of Privacy

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If I’m being honest social media is not my forte. I rarely post pictures to my Snapchat story or update my Facebook status and I tweet only when forced to. Each of the platforms I use serves a purpose: Facebook allows me to keep in contact with my best friend when he is home in Thailand; Snapchat allows me to take stupid pictures of myself with funny filters to send to my stepmom; and Twitter was forced upon me by my desire to become a journalist.

My reasons for despising most social media platforms is rooted in my family’s general desire to keep their cards close to their chest. This is especially prevalent in one family member’s case. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a few years ago. As a man on disability he is subjected to insurance fraud inspections, which can include former FBI agent showing up on our doorstep to investigate him (yes, this actually happened). The man walks with two canes and yet a picture on Facebook can spell the end to his disability. This may sound like the ramblings of an over-dramatic ex-theater kid, but I cannot tell you how much I wish I were joking.

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Photo courtesy of Jack Moreh and freerangestock.com

The truth is the more I learn about social media and its ability to track our daily activities the more hesitant I am to use it. Although I applaud the various CEOs who push back against the government’s ever growing power, I cede that United States citizens are far more likely to give up their privacy in favor of feeling secure than they are to defend their rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

As paranoid as I sound I do enjoy the contact that Facebook and Snapchat have afforded me. A few close friends reside abroad (whether for the semester or for life) and through social media I am able to keep up with their lives.

Although communication itself is easier in the age of social media, connection on a deeper level is far more difficult. LOLs and emojis have overtaken heartfelt conversation and defriending has taken the place of interpersonal conflict.