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Gillian Sanger

How do digital communications impact compassion, belonging, and wellbeing?

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This week's question asks:

How do digital communications impact compassion, belonging, and wellbeing? In what ways do they enhance and in what ways do they hinder these things?

Take a moment to reflect on how digital technology has shaped our lives. There are pros and cons undoubtedly, and so I invite you to share your thoughts on how online communications have impacted compassion, belonging, and our overall sense of wellbeing.

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I found myself avoiding this inquiry.  My relationship with digital communication feels sticky, as I am sure it does for so many.

On the one hand, I recognize that I am not a mass consumer of digital media.  The only social media platform I have ever used is Instagram, and only starting a few years back when my oldest child began using it and I wanted to be able to monitor.  I try to limit my news consumption to news catchall where I can glimpse the headlines from various sources, which I do twice a day at most.  Being online for work since the pandemic began has created an ever growing desire in me to not be on a screen.  And yet....

Trying to keep my mindfulness writings and practices current requires me to be online.  There are most definitely teachers and other people who's work I find inspiring, informative, and important.  But I still try to bring awareness to how the one step removed interactions impact my heart-mind.  The separateness is pronounced.

There is so much via digital communication to learn from.  There is a sense of connection to others, and an illumination of the suffering of others, which catalyzes me to act in service.  But there is also an underlying current of mindlessness to being on a device all the time.  When I can, I step out without my phone, so in my 'empty' moments, I can look at the sky or trees or hear music while fully present n my car.  I miss the days of being unreachable, being able to truly disappear for a bit.  So I have to create them for myself where I can.

Thanks for the question, @Gillian Sanger!

Be well, everyone.

Rachel

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Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here Rachel. It is definitely a tricky subject as I personally feel it comes with both great benefit and detriment to wellbeing.

I resonate with much of what you have said. One thing I'd like to add is a reflection I've often had when I see arguments unfolding on social media. It really makes me ponder how differently certain discussions would be if we had to communicate with people we disagree with face to face. I have seen many online disagreements evoke the quality of a bully-run schoolyard playground, which saddens me because I do not think that adults would speak to one another in the same way if we were together in person. I agree with you that in many ways digital technology increases our awareness and compassion towards things we would otherwise not know about, but at the same time, I think it has fractured our ability to communicate lovingly and wisely.

I use Instagram as well. Just recently I permanently deleted my Facebook account (for many reasons). Even though it was just one of the online technologies I use, I feel lighter without it 🙂

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