Social media is a weird thing. It’s completely changed the way that, we as a culture, interact. In part, that’s terrifying. Even more alarming is how adolescent social media is, both as an industry and as a communication tool. We still don’t know how to use it exactly, we’re still figuring out what’s right and wrong on both a practical and personal level.
Deepak Chopra, America’s holy-man and best-selling author, recently commented on spiritualism and social media in an article on Mashable.com. As someone who is spiritual and a marketing professional, I find Chopra to be endlessly interesting. He’s a guru, for all intents and purposes, and he’s a prominent example of well executed branding. Can those two things coexist? Is spirituality the yin to marketing’s yang?
Chopra has been a magnet for criticism from scientists and theologians alike. Many think that Chopra gives false hope, especially where health and wellbeing are concerned. After reading his comments on Mashable, I can’t decide if I’m a critic or not.
I think that it’s the evolution in a way of human consciousness. What are social networks? They are the extensions of our mind. Right now, you and I are influencing each other’s neural networks because of our conversation, through the flow of info and energy. And when this info is put on a social network, it influences the minds, and therefore, the neural networks of everyone participating. So unbeknownst to us, society is moving in the direction of a planetary mind through the social networks.
I agree. Social media is an evolution of human consciousness, albeit unnatural. Social media connects all of us to one another in an unprecedented way. I think that’s one of the great things about platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it expands the reach of our voice. However, it’s also a terrible responsibility, something that we all have a personal obligation to maintain.
I’ll go on Twitter and just make two people happy by giving them attention, affection and appreciation. Then those two people do the same, and by the end of six hours, we’ve have created a pandemic of happiness across the planet. That’s the power.
Yes, an action taken on social media can have a butterfly effect. However, I don’t believe that this “pay-it-forward” caste system is something new to the Internet. Chopra is talking about influence, which has always existed (though at astronomically slower rates). If being good to one person influenced that person to be good to another, and so on and so on exponentially, then world utopia would have been achieved already. The truth is, people, as a whole, suck. If I get on Twitter and am terrible to someone, they are much more likely to be terrible to someone else in return. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, and I swear that I’m not, but users are significantly more likely to be rude through social media, because social media disconnects us as well.
What’s discouraging is the number of people who come to create hostility. Social media reflects the human condition, so there is no way we should be censoring that. You cannot fight the darkness, you can only bring in the light. If you want the world to change, think, “How can I be an example of that?” And be the change. With social media, use it to create change; help people with it, raise money, start a business.
Of course, Chopra brings up a good point. If social media is the extension of human consciousness, then it’s also an extension of the human condition. He does approach the idea of Internet users being trolls, and I have to give him credit for that.
People connect when there is an emotional exchange, not through facts. And by helping. I was in Australia three years ago: There was somebody who said on the Internet that they were depressed and contemplating suicide. Somebody else found that and managed to rescue them. They started a program on the Internet that acted as a suicide watch for teenagers. It became a huge program there and saved lots of lives. The power of the Internet is we can ask for help, we can give help and get it back.
In the end, I understand a lot of what Chopra is saying. Social media gives society an incredible amount of power. I’m in the Internet a lot, more than most people I know. I’ve seen a lot of good things and a lot of terrible things come out of it. There is a great capacity for social good, and there’s an equal opportunity for social tragedy. If Chopra saying that a better, more peaceful society is possible, then I’d have to agree with him; if he’s saying that a more peaceful society is inevitable, then I couldn’t.