“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace”. John O'Donohue

Friday, 28 February 2014

If you can't say something nice...

...don't say nothin' at all! - Thumper the rabbit (Bambi, Disney Films 1942)

We can all be nice all of the time. How boring would that be? Nice doesn't always make things happen. But then we don't have to be nasty either. I've been really sensitive to negativity this week. It has been a week of opinions (well, a week in which I have been noticing people's desire to express  them) and perhaps in my over exposure to mainstream and online media I've had more exposure to the less than pleasant opinions of my fellow human beings ( and, If I'm honest, my own) than I feel is healthy. I have actually found myself getting depressed. This is not good. To be fair I have allowed myself to be drawn into the conversation. 

There seems to be social currency - especially on social media -  in  belittling, criticising and expressing disdain. Complaining, whinging and being generally negative and critical about everything is good for rapport and comic effect. We all have a laugh at those things that are universally frustrating.

Indeed, it is thought that the rise of "consumerism" as a phenomenon partly arises from this impulse to complain. We have the "right" to complain. Look at any consumer rights website, and "how to complain" will pretty much be the first option. We have a right to return goods and  to be refunded when our purchases don't meet our expectations. And even when the objects themselves have nothing wrong with them, some retailers are happy to take back the purchase to retain our custom.When things don't live up to our expectations of how they will make us feel, or change our lives for the better, we take them back to the shop.

But - we can't take life back to the shop. 

I am all for activism and protest. For making a stand for progressive change. For actively demonstrating for our "rights" as human beings. Be The Change and all that. But simply moaning about how shit everything and everyone is makes nothing change, it just makes it more miserable, and  it actually contributes to the problem. 

Marshall Rosenberg - innovator of non-violent communication says that "When we judge others we contribute to violence."  And on social media we can perpetrate this violence instantly, all the time, with ripples and repercussions that we can't control or know about. This doesn't make social media bad, it can be a tremendous force for positivity and change, but it does make it a powerful and pervasive thing, as my experience this week has shown. The good thing is,  that I can choose my conversations.

 If you can't be "nice"  - and by nice I mean non-violent then -  I'm not going to be part of the conversation.