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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Can We Do? A Meditation on Action

Life changes. That's a fact we all know but people seldom think about. Every day is unique but in our fast moving world, we have created the illusion that there's such a thing as a "normal" week that includes a period of rest we call the "weekend".

 

The more I grow in my practice of various forms of meditation, the more I realise how easy it is to go through life following habit and routine without stopping and reflect on the point of it all. For, while life may seem to be going great, we night fail to appreciate the moments in which we find our peace and comfort. It's only when we realise we lost something that we start to appreciate its value.

 

We also risk believing that we have more control over our world than we really do. As life goes through its natural cycle of birth, death  and renewal, we change as well. I have gone through particularly hard times in my life recently and I can't say that I found my peace.

 

Indeed, while we may have an idea that mindfulness and meditation provides us with peaceful bliss, its proper practice also exposes us to the scars which were deeply hidden in our mind. Yet, unpleasant as they are, acknowledging their presence can help us to slowly detach ourselves from them.

 

Even if I am trying to give up my attachment to the world, I confess it's harder than I thought. I still remain attached to my pride and sometimes still crave to acquire a particular thing or position. But then again, I know how . foolish my thinking is. Yet, I can still be a fool. Acknowledging that is the first step - even if my pride gets angry.

 

The fact is that there's very little we can change in the world. There are so many factors that are permitting that we have the right conditions to keep alive that it would be impossible to list them and some I don't even know about. We also depend on the living world, including the people we live with on this rotating piece of rock. 

 

So what can we do? While we may not be able to change the world or even "save" it, there's only one thing I learned that you may find of value. You can only change yourself. Yet, until you take the time to get to know who you are, each day will remain as insignificant as the one before. 

 

Don't expect to change overnight and don't even expect it to be painless. You may even find you're failing, like I feel lately, but you should keep in mind that the real peace, freedomm and happiness we all seek is not to be found in the world but in you and in how far you're ready to recognise your littleness in the  context of the whole.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Meditation on Forgetting

 

HH Dalai Lama celebrated his 78th birthday  last Saturday, 6th July… and I forgot!

 

 

 

A Confession

I must confess that I have forgotten  to write an entry on the occasion of HH Dalai Lama which I started doing when I started this site. I have already written extensively about how indebted I am to HH 14th Dalai Lama for opening my mind to a fresh understanding of life and reality. I find that I feel a bit angry and rather ashamed of having forgotten the man who helped e to embark on the journey where I can better understand who I am and my place in this world.

 

In a way, this journey of self-discovery which I have been writing about since 2011 began as a child. But then, my curiosity to know about HH Dalai Lama and to understand Buddhism didn’t take me far. Even my brief exploration of world religions that I carried out as I was writing my book Cosmos also didn’t help me that much as I only read sources which tended to hold that Buddhism was a nihilistic tradition.
I find that the past remains an important part of who we are. It’s true that it’s not good to dwell on the past but it would be wrong that we completely forget it. For the past, whether we like it or not, has affected and affects who we are today.

 

Yes, I forgot that on the 6th JUly of 1935, a young boy called Tenzin Gyatso would be declared to be the re-incarnation of his predecessor Thubten Gyatso. Much has been written, of course, on the Dalai Lama’s early days but I feel That I have been affected but the way he speaks and expresses his thoughts with a rare sincerity and with a genuine interest in the welfare of all humankind and all sentient beings. Yet, as he admits himself, he is just a man like any other and he doesn’t want people to regard him as a god-figure. In particular, there are three things that have struck me as he talks about Buddhism. Precepts that, you might have noticed, I constantly refer to when writing here and which I use as guides in other writing that is not related to Buddhism as such.

 

My Guiding Principles

These principles, simply put are:

Dependent arising. The teaching that who we are is the product of countless causes and conditions that have made our life possible.

 

co-dependence e. The reality that who we are and what we have depends on other factors that are beyond our control. These range from the physical world - material objects, nature, living things and weather conditions; to the relations we have with other people.

 

Impermanence. The fact that nothing lasts forever. Everything in the universe is changing, including the universe itself. And, all all of this will one time end.

The Impermanence of Forgetting

 

In this sense, we can see forgetting as the manifestation of the impermanence of memory. Yet, we may forget other things in life that are as important as memory is to remember who we are. I feel that, due to strong emotions, that arose from a dark place within. As a result, I started forgetting what was important in my life. I was forgetting the values I believed in. Perhaps I was under the illusion that I was better than others or that I had a rightful claim to be arrogant because I felt that I was in the right and that all I said can't and shouldn't be contradicted because it was absolute - when, in fact, right as it may have been, it was relative. Yes, I may have been in the right at times but my approach was also wrong.

It is often the case that because we feel we have found our truth, we forget that we remain always subjective in our judgments and fail to consider how our words and actions might affect other people.

I am not saying that we do wrong if we make our point or feel that we must take action. Yet, even if we are right and correct, the way we assert our convictions can easily undermine their importance. It’s a choice whether to pursue the path of violence or the path of non-violence. The former may appear to be stronger and the more effective. Yet, while the path of violence may get more immediate results, it only reacts to the effect of the real cause of our affliction and may also obscure the real causes of the affliction.

 

Healing the Past: To Forgive, Not Forget…

I am sorry that I forgot to remember that on July 6, 1935, Tenzin Gyatso was born. But, I feel greater sorrow that while my writing has been largely unaffected by past afflictions, I cano’t say the same about some words and actions that I have carried out in an attempt to reclaim what I felt was unfairly taken away from me.

 

But, in doing so, I became a slave to this past and never really freed myself.

The only way we have to heal the past is to forgive all the injustice perpetrated against us as we can’t change the past. Yet, while we should not forget our past as it has shaped who we are, we should strive to forgiveness ensures that we don’t remain slaves to our past and be willing to be more open to trusting others guided by the wisdom of our past injustices.

 

We should strive to cultivate our compassion as it is the only guarantee of our own happiness and that of others.
In HH the 14th Dalai Lama’s own words:

 

“If you want to be happy… practice compassion…

 

If you want others to be happy… practice compassion…”

 

I wish belated wishes to HH Dalai Lama.

 

Thank you very very much!

 

Older Entries

2011: Celebrating HH the 14th Dalai Lama's 76th Birthday
2012: Tomorrow ... It's the 6th July? So, It's HH 14th Dalai Lama's 77th birthday!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ZoneMind: A Day of Shame - Identity, Indifference & Humanity (Full Series)

Part 1: Hollow Identities?

ORIGINAL SOURCE


This July was a time I felt that I had to re-evaluate who I was and to reflect on my position on this Earth and wonder once again on where I belonged. I decided to leave FaceBookas I was growing concerned that, in spite of all the good things it offered me, I found myself too dependent on it and sometimes felt I had to project an identity that pleased the public which I felt more and more to be somewhat oppressive, encouraging a culture of impulsive reactions which didn’t promote finding time for reflection or cultivate personal growth. I felt that sometimes I had to hold back too much parts of who I was and perhaps the reason I finally left was to be found in my past.


Yes, there was another reason I decided to leave. Perhaps I realised that being on FaceBook was my way of validating who I was because I still felt like an outsider. I still felt without acknowledging it, that I wanted to be accepted and taken for who I was or what I believed in. But, then, I always ran the risk of posting something for the sake of it. I might have felt that the media had once robbed me of my right to claim an identity as an individual when I was still a child. And, yes, while I thought I got over it, the scars in my mind were still there and still bleeding.

Indeed, I found that the painful memories I had when I was still a disabled boy were still there hidden in my mind. I realised that these ‘demons’ of the past which I thought I conquered were still acting in the background. I cannot say that this was a positive experience. It was not. I made that clear in my entry and recording found on a recent post entitled “Is Virtue Its Own Reward”. For, even if it was a difficult time in my childhood, I admit that it also taught me about myself and about how society viewed me.

Many times, we often judge things in terms of good or bad.

However, life is more of an experience that is in-between.

And there are many experiences in my life which may be judged as bad or terrible. The fact is that while our experiences may be a source of pain and anger, sometimes they are inevitable and necessary to learn and grow up. When I could still walk, I remember that there were many times I fell from my bicycle when I was first learning how to ride a bike. But, eventually, I had mastered the skill of riding a bike. Yes, I know that today I won’t be able to write a regular bike at least but I did benefit from learning that skill the time I could do it.

In the same way, the pain I felt as a disabled child when I realised that to the world I was just a one-dimensional boy ‘afflicted’ by impairment and a ‘burden’ and ‘sacrifice’ to society and to my best friend was when I lost my balance on the ‘bicycle’ of life and face the fact that no matter who I was or what I did, I will also risk being judge by my impairments.

From that day on, I felt I could relate to the countless times I found myself ill-at-ease when I listened to so-called grown ups making fun of people who were different than them, whether they were of a different faith, whether they were black, whether they were women or whether they were gay.

Unfortunately, I do confess that at times I did join in to make some witty remark but, I found that I preferred to remain silent when the words I heard felt wrong and unkind. But my silence was not that better. I didn’t know I had a choice. However, the experiences I had when I realised that for society I was to be an outsider with people arrogantly thinking that they can tell my story and distort my life to the extent it sounded more like melodrama.

I just wasn’t that boy they had constructed out of their assumptions and misconceptions.


It was from then on that I must have started realising I was an outsider. Society wasn’t interested in who I really was, it preferred to create n image for the sake of increasing sales and popularity. I was like a Joseph Merrick whose physical differences were the main reason he drew the interest of the people of his time.

 

Part 2: an Indifferent Ignorance

 ORIGINAL SOURCE  

 

I felt that I could relate to my earlier discomfort when I heard people saying things about individuals they never met or didn’t intend to mix with. As I read about the struggle of black Americans in the US for civil rights, I felt that Martin Luther King Junior was also talking about an experience not dissimilar to my own.

As I read about Gandhi’s protests against the British colonisers, I felt that, in some way, I was colonised by a non-disabled ideology that placed people like me who had an impairment amongst the lowest classes of society, sustaining the belief that impairment was an inevitable reality and that I must accept my burden and not expect to be an equal. Of course, it would be much later in my 20s that I would be introduced to the idea of the social model of disability that appeared to given me a voice and the words to articulate my experiences.

For, like racism, sexism, homophobia or any other forms of intolerance that existed about people who may be different than us, The fact I had an impairment wasn’t the problem in itself. 

Indeed, one major problem was the attitude people had about impairment which was often seen to define my whole identity - even erasing any other aspects of my humanity.

However, unlike other forms of discrimination, society has also proved to reject my body whenever I was denied access to places or to resources simply because my body didn’t conform to the imaginary ‘norm’. Despite this fact, attitude played an important role on my feeling of being an outsider.

Like the black men and women in 50s America, I didn’t have equal rights in so many areas. Like the colonised Indian, what I owned and my history was always inferior to that of the unreal norm. Like the

African, to the West, I had no history and my impairment remained a curse or the effect of nature gone wrong.  Thus, my mind

and body appeared to be a defiance to the Graeco-Roman ideals of perfection. The only means that we all have to relate with the world suddenly seemed to have been imbued with features and characteristics that were never there but were only created by our limiting minds. 


This is why I felt I was an outsider as a boy. This is why I feel like an outsider sometimes even  today. 

I felt the need to speak about the injustices that I witnessed this week in an episode entitled Lives Should Never Be Used As Meanswhich I posted on my podcast channel . The inhumanity in the government’s attempt to deport a group of Somali migrants back to Libya. While Malta has limited resources to provide shelter to more migrants, I felt that this attempt at sending a message to the EU that Malta needed more support was morally deplorable on so many levels. For, given that Libya remains unstable and that the detention centres at Libya offer very poor human conditions while guards there don’t seem to have any respect for human rights,, 

if our government hadn’t been stopped, these immigrants would have certainly suffered torture, rape and death. And I don’t like to call them ‘immigrants’ but language is often constraining. They are, first and foremost, people - men, women and children. They are my brothers and sisters. They all have their own identities, likes and dislikes. They feel the same feelings and emotions that I feel. Like them, I can get sick and I will die. We share the world with each other.

Part 3: Humanity Denied!

ORIGINAL  SOURCE


Before starting this last entry, I wish to share a few verses inspired from  the words that are attributed toMartin Niemöller as I can see the danger in arguments and action that seem to imply that our human rights can be negotiated or, worse, put to the majority vote. I am painfully aware that, as a disabled person, many (if not all) of the rights I and other disabled people, would have prevailed and it's only because of some pioneers that made sure our rights should be legally recognised that we can say that we have more opportunities today - even if there's more to be done to gain real equality for disabled people. But I digress, so here are the adapted version of  Martin Niemöller's speech foe our local reality as I am currently perceiving it:: 

Now, they were coming for the migrants,


And we said nothing...


Then they came for those who were Muslims...

And we said nothing.


Then they robbed once who identified themselves as LGBT of their rights...

And we said nothing...


Then they attacked the environmentalists...

And as nature was dying...


Our mouths were still shut...


They would also make ones protecting human rights of minorities and other discriminated social groups appear to be unpatriotic...


And we still said nothing.


Then, when they came after us...


Well, no one was  there to defend us!



I don’t want to sound too pessimistic but unless we don't speak together against injustice perpetrated on others, we have lost our claim to our own rights. Unless we come together and really together on issues concerning human rights, then all expressions of solidarity and talks social inclusion remain simply empty rhetoric. When people in my own country forget their humanity, these people seeking refuge become a group of people robbed of an identity. At the same time, we choose to impose our own prejudice and assumptions on them turning them to monsters and even savages. When we look at them, there is a danger that we project our own fears onto them.Perhaps we fear of losing our own identity. Rejecting them would mean that we cling to the delusion that we’re far better than them or more ‘civilised’ than them. We might have believed that they were poor people suffering from famine and starvation. We might still have an image of those children with swollen stomachs. We might have pitied them. We might have thought of Africans as savages without a history or tradition. Like the Africans of that distorted Africa found in, for example, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.


In many ways, I feel that I must speak up against any attempt to reduce the rights of these people we call immigrants. I feel that I am also an outsider. In spite of any nice things said about disabled people, there are still many who harbour deep inside a certain resentment and fear of becoming like us - which is likely to happen as they age. I am, like the immigrant, an outsider - the other. And being the ‘other’ makes me a threat to the social order. For, in fully accepting me and people who are different, society would have to face the reality that we are more like each other than we are different. And while our differences matter, they are not fundamental to who we are. The day when we even considered sending people back to most certain torture, humiliation and death can’t be ever justified.

It was a day of shame for us and for Malta when we were close to to remain indifferent to our fellow human beings for the sake of making a political point.


While we may come to be forgiven for these actions, I believe we must make sure that we don’t forget. Even if the public has a short memory and the media is always looking for the next controversy, we can’t afford to forget. For forgetting would mean that next time we may actually have blood on our hands.

To end this long entry, I wish to express my last thoughts in the Japanese haiku form:

Yes, we must forgive...


But I refuse to forget...


This moment of shame.

End of series!


ABOUT THIS ENTRY

 This series originally appeared as a three-part series of entries published on my blogZoneMind between July 12 and July 14., 2013. This version has been slightly edited. If you enjoyed this entry, you can follow some of my activity on Twitter@gordonGT

> Feel free to share this post but kindly attribute this source;.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Day of Shame: Identity, Indifference and Humanity - Part 3

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3

 

Part 3: Humanity Denied!



Before starting this last entry, I wish to share a few verses inspired from the words that are attributed to Martin Niemöller as I can see the danger in arguments and action that seem to imply that our human rights can be negotiated or, worse, put to the majority vote. I am painfully aware that, as a disabled person, many (if not all) of the rights I and other disabled people, would have prevailed and it's only because of some pioneers that made sure our rights should be legally recognised that we can say that we have more opportunities today - even if there's more to be done to gain real equality for disabled people. But I digress, so here are the adapted version of Martin Niemöller's speech foe our local reality as I am currently perceiving it::


 

Now, they were coming for the migrants,

And we said nothing...


Then they came for those who were Muslims...
And we said nothing.

Then they robbed once who identified themselves as LGBT of their rights...
And we said nothing...

Then they attacked the environmentalists...
And as nature was dying...
Our mouths were still shut...
They would also make ones protecting human rights of minorities and other discriminated groups appear to be unpatriotic...
And we still said nothing.
Then, when they came after us...
No one was  there to defend us!


I don’t want to sound too pessimistic but unless we don't speak together against injustice perpetrated on others, we have lost our claim to our own rights. Unless we come together and really together on issues concerning human rights, then all expressions of solidarity and talks social inclusion remain simply empty rhetoric.

When people in my own country forget their humanity, these people seeking refuge become a group of people robbed of an identity. At the same time, we choose to impose our own prejudice and assumptions on them turning them to monsters and even savages. When we look at them, there is a danger that we project our own fears onto them.

Perhaps we fear of losing our own identity. Rejecting them would mean that we cling to the delusion that we’re far better than them or more ‘civilised’ than them. We might have believed that they were poor people suffering from famine and starvation. We might still have an image of those children with swollen stomachs. We might have pitied them. We might have thought of Africans as savages without a history or tradition. Like the Africans of that distorted Africa found in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

In many ways, I feel that I must speak up against any attempt to reduce the rights of these people we call immigrants. I feel that I am also an outsider. In spite of any nice things said about disabled people, there are still many who harbour deep inside a certain resentment and fear of becoming like us - which is likely to happen as they age. I am, like the immigrant, an outsider - the other. And being the ‘other’ makes me a threat to the social order. For, in fully accepting me and people who are different, society would have to face the reality that we are more like each other than we are different. And while our differences matter, they are not fundamental to who we are. The day when we even considered sending people back to most certain torture, humiliation and death can’t be ever justified.

It was a day of shame for us and for Malta when we were close to to remain indifferent to our fellow human beings for the sake of making a political point.

While we may come to be forgiven for these actions, I believe we must make sure that we don’t forget. Even if the public has a short memory and the media is always looking for the next controversy, we can’t afford to forget. For forgetting would mean that next time we may actually have blood on our hands.

My last thoughts in haiku:


Yes, we must forgive...
But I refuse to forget...
This moment of shame.


End of series!


READ THE WHOLE SERIES:
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Day of Shame: Identity, Indifference and Humanity - Part 2

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 1 - PART 2 - PART 

Part 2: an Indifferent Ignorance 

I felt that I could relate to my earlier discomfort when I heard people saying things about individuals they never met or didn’t intend to mix with. As I read about the struggle of black Americans in the US for civil rights, I felt that Martin Luther King Junior was also talking about an experience not dissimilar to my own.

 

As I read about Gandhi’s protests against the British colonisers, I felt that, in some way, I was colonised by a non-disabled ideology that placed people like me who had an impairment amongst the lowest classes of society, sustaining the belief that impairment was an inevitable reality and that I must accept my burden and not expect to be an equal. Of course, it would be much later in my 20s that I would be introduced to the idea of the social model of disability that appeared to given me a voice and the words to articulate my experiences.

For, like racism, sexism, homophobia or any other forms of intolerance that existed about people who may be different than us, The fact I had an impairment wasn’t the problem in itself. Indeed, one major problem was the attitude people had about impairment which was often seen to define my whole identity - even erasing any other aspects of my humanity. However, unlike other forms of discrimination, society has also proved to reject my body whenever I was denied access to places or to resources simply because my body didn’t conform to the imaginary ‘norm’. Despite this fact, attitude played an important role on my feeling of being an outsider. Like the black men and women in 50s America, I didn’t have equal rights in so many areas. Like the colonised Indian, what I owned and my history was always inferior to that of the unreal norm. I was and still feel an outsider.

This is why I felt the need to speak about the injustices that I witnessed this week in an episode entitled Lives Should Never Be Used As Means which I posted on my podcast channel . The inhumanity in the government’s attempt to deport a group of Somali migrants back to Libya. While Malta has limited resources to provide shelter to more migrants, I felt that this attempt at sending a message to the EU that Malta needed more support was morally deplorable on so many levels. For, given that Libya remains unstable and that the detention centres at Libya offer very poor human conditions while guards there don’t seem to have any respect for human rights,, if our government hadn’t been stopped, these immigrants would have certainly suffered torture, rape and death. And I don’t like to call them ‘immigrants’ but language is often constraining. They are, first and foremost, people - men, women and children. They are my brothers and sisters. They all have their own identities, likes and dislikes. They feel the same feelings and emotions that I feel. Like them, I can get sick and I will die. We share the world with each other.

CONTINUED…

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Day of Shame: Identity, Indifference and Humanity - Part 1

Part 1: Hollow Identities?

This July was a time I felt that I had to re-evaluate who I was and to reflect on my position on this Earth and wonder once again on where I belonged. I decided to leave FaceBook as I was growing concerned that, in spite of all the good things it offered me, I found myself too dependent on it and sometimes felt I had to project an identity that pleased the public which I felt more and more to be somewhat oppressive, encouraging a culture of impulsive reactions which didn’t promote finding time for reflection or cultivate personal growth. I felt that sometimes I had to hold back too much parts of who I was and perhaps the reason I finally left was to be found in my past.

Yes, there was another reason I decided to leave. Perhaps I realised that being on FaceBook was my way of validating who I was because I still felt like an outsider. I still felt without acknowledging it, that I wanted to be accepted and taken for who I was or what I believed in. But, then, I always ran the risk of posting something for the sake of it. I might have felt that the media had once robbed me of my right to claim an identity as an individual when I was still a child. And, yes, while I thought I got over it, the scars in my mind were still there and still bleeding.


Indeed, I found that the painful memories I had when I was still a disabled boy were still there hidden in my mind. I realised that these ‘demons’ of the past which I thought I conquered were still acting in the background. I cannot say that this was a positive experience. It was not. I made that clear in my entry and recording found on a recent post entitled “Is Virtue Its Own Reward”. For, even if it was a difficult time in my childhood, I admit that it also taught me about myself and about how society viewed me.

Many times, we often judge things in terms of good or bad.

However, life is more of an experience that is in-between. And there are many experiences in my life which may be judged as bad or terrible. The fact is that while our experiences may be a source of pain and anger, sometimes they are inevitable and necessary to learn and grow up. When I could still walk, I remember that there were many times I fell from my bicycle when I was first learning how to ride a bike. But, eventually, I had mastered the skill of riding a bike. Yes, I know that today I won’t be able to write a regular bike at least but I did benefit from learning that skill the time I could do it.

In the same way, the pain I felt as a disabled child when I realised that to the world I was just a one-dimensional boy ‘afflicted’ by impairment and a ‘burden’ and ‘sacrifice’ to society and to my best friend was when I lost my balance on the ‘bicycle’ of life and face the fact that no matter who I was or what I did, I will also risk being judge by my impairments.

From that day on, I felt I could relate to the countless times I found myself ill-at-ease when I listened to so-called grown ups making fun of people who were different than them, whether they were of a different faith, whether they were black, whether they were women or whether they were gay.

Unfortunately, I do confess that at times I did join in to make some witty remark but, at times, I remained silent. But my silence was not that better. I didn’t know I had a choice. However, the experiences I had when I realised that for society I was to be an outsider with people arrogantly thinking that they can tell my story and distort my life to the extent it sounded more like melodrama.

I just wasn’t that boy they had constructed out of their assumptions and misconceptions.

It was from then on that I must have started realising I was an outsider. Society wasn’t interested in who I really was, it preferred to create an image for the sake of increasing sales and popularity. I was like a Joseph Merrick whose physical differences were the only reason he drew the interest of the people of his time.

CONTINUED…

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3

Monday, July 8, 2013

Is there life after FaceBook?

Yellow Question Mark followed by the FaceBook Icon






L)) Listen to a recent episode with the same name I published oN my podcast channel at AudioBoo

FaceBook Memories


Last week, I took what seemed, at first, to be a difficult decision. I de-activated my FaceBook account. Even if I can re-activate my account within a time window, it’s unlikely for me to return. I admit that I was pretty excited when I started using FaceBook for the first time. It felt good to see more ‘friends’ and acquaintances joining me as a ‘friend’. Indeed, over the years, I did gain a modest number of followers, including new and old friends, schoolmates, relatives and had the chance to connect with like minded people.

Disenchantment

On the other hand, I have grown weary about what FaceBook has become. While I find that the idea of social networks and FaceBook in particular, to be a positive one, I regret that, on its part, FaceBook has sold its soul (if social networks can have one) to businesses and companies. Unfortunately, as a FaceBook user, I noticed that many of those using what is now a social network giant don’t yet understand the implications of posting stuff on the platform.

In fact, people have been posting updates about the most trivial things happing in their lives, posting photos that may be inappropriate or sharing ‘feel good’ updates or ‘feel bad’ updates to gain attention. We also sometimes tend to post status updates to provoke controversy. All in all, we seek to create an identity and seek to be popular - even if it means portraying ourselves as tragic victims. Worse still, we fill our profiles with details about who we are or what we do to the whole world to find. Things that we might not be comfortable sharing with a person we met in the street, we are ready to tell the world.

A Privacy Lost

Many people have rightly expressed their concerns following Edward Snowden's revelations that the US government Is monitoring the activities of its citizens, and most likely, other citizens from other countries to protect “national security”. But, forgetting this issue for today, these concerns arise because we value our privacy. After all, we want to keep aspects of our lives to ourselves. However, our insistence on the ‘sacred’ right to privacy seems to be inconsistent with how we behave on FaceBookFaceBook activity is also precious information for businesses to use and exploit for their own business interests. A thing that we make easier for those seeking to make more profit whenever we press LIKE on a particular product and service. While this can help the company improve their service, it is also somewhat an invasion of our privacy, It night even mean that we are valuing products as people. For, in truth, the FaceBook started off as a network of friends, it has been colonised by an aggressive commercialisation where objects become our friends and friends, in a way, become objects.

Sadly, I realise that FaceBook is neither the utopian social network which connects people from around the world to encourage dialogue and mutual understanding. Yes, there are some groups and individuals who are engaging in a dialogue to promote peace and justice around the world. Yet, as with anything we create as human beings, FaceBook has been the meeting place for those who spread hate or intolerance to others, including far right groups and those groups which implicitly support homophobia, people of different race, faith or disability. This tendency for us to form our own affiliations even if they condone hate crime or violence, is a reality. And if a group is private, FaceBook can be a place where we limit ourselves to reading from people who have our opinions without even giving the chance for us to hear a different opinion than our own.

Again, I am not condemning FaceBook or those who use it. For all I know, I might return. However, I believe that I have become too dependent on FaceBook to the extent that I wasn’t sure whether I could live without it. A feeling I am sure some readers can relate to. I haven’t become addicted to FaceBook. But, then again, I had a life before FaceBook. We all had. In a way, FaceBook. I thank all of you who joined me on FaceBook is not going to be there forever. And it could continue to change too much.

I left FaceBook tO regain my authenticity and grow in self-knowledge without having to adopt an identity that is NOT who I am!


PS: I will still be on Twitter though - so you can still connect with me @GordonGT!