Social Discourse Norms Upended - New Tools for Engagement

We are wired as social beings, naturally seeking to connect with one another. From our first moments as a baby in our mother's arms, we crave bonding and interaction. Fast forward to 2020 with its societal division and often mean-spirited social dialogue - when it can feel challenging to reach out like we did before. Continue reading for a big-picture view of our dilemma in 2020 and how we can and must find productive ways to stay engaged.

Background

The trend of emotionally-charged social discourse began before 2020, in a global climate of social unrest and dissatisfaction with the unjust state of our world. Division and chaos became the norm by the end of the 2010s.

As 2020 began our global society was at a pivot point - ripe for mega changes energized by rare planetary alignments that hadn't occurred for hundreds of years. Those planetary energies - impacting us throughout this year and beyond - are igniting a series of beginnings and endings. Because this dynamic is quantum vs linear - taking into account our long journey to this juncture - what's unfolding is multifaceted and vast beyond human comprehension.

Even without a global pandemic, we would have a challenging time navigating the new norms. The pandemic is upending key ways we interact with each other. And while the pandemic is temporary, it's pushing us to self-evolve that much more quickly. In the end, that's a good thing, yet right now if you're like most of us it doesn't feel that good. We are creatures of habit after all, and we're used to gathering in person and doing lots of sharing that way.

What's Different About Sharing Now

Before the pandemic, we socialized in person and most of us also had an online presence. As we social distanced, our interactions became concentrated online. The very nature of online sharing is different than if you were sitting with a friend at lunch. Many times people share things online they wouldn't say in person - and oftentimes unfortunately online sharing can be hostile or combative.

In my book Predictions 2020, I wrote:

"In 2020 the domino effect of emotionally-charged and often combative social discourse may test your patience and ability to stay calm. After all, many people you engage with are having emotional meltdowns in response to troubling world events. What we're seeing is a change in norms regarding how we express ourselves. Topics that previously were off-limits for polite discussion have now taken center stage. Social media has greatly transformed how people interact online. Some comments are more anonymous, too, and this changes the tone of what people are willing to say. People get fired up about an issue and feel they must weigh in on it - even if they are not an expert."
New Tools for Engagement

It's vital that we discover and apply new tools for engagement with others. Self-evolution is an inside job, yet we need each other to evolve. Each time we have an interaction with another person we can learn something about ourselves and about life. Each time we have a meaningful conversation with someone, we can grow spiritually. Each time we engage with a stranger and show him or her by our example how to be kind, we contribute to a kinder world.

The changes we want to see - whether in our communities or larger world - can only come about when we engage actively with our voice and energy. We aren't meant to stand back on the sidelines and let others lead. We as divine changemakers are to come forward and lead.

Taking Sides - Having Opinions

This past week I could sense a general weariness within people - about key unresolved societal issues and the trend of online hostility as people take sides. I then shared this on Facebook:

"Communications with others can be challenging in these times of combative social discourse. Remember: you have a right to your opinions, as do others. Self-censoring of words before they are communicated is essential. Apply self-compassion and compassion for others. Everyone is struggling to find meaning, feel acknowledged, and discover how to change the world. Love must be a part of all things - including communications - to create a world based on love."

In these times of division and distrust of the “other” we must tap the innocence of children on a playground, too young to have learned to judge others by how they look or talk or believe. Deep within us is a natural ability to do this. Easier said than done. The key is our desire to do this, and our commitment to come from our innocence and openheartedness.

Comments