I love Twitter. Even with it’s increase in character limit I still love it. Unconditional love and all that.
But I also hate Twitter.
First, here’s why I love Twitter. I get the chance to share my writing, create content, hone my writing skills because of it’s character limitation, try and make jokes, share important ideas and articles and get into stupid arguments that don’t go anywhere and don’t advance the discussion one iota, leaving me turning over and over in my head how that person is wrong and I’ll show them and then they’ll feel like a damn fool, a damn fool I tell you!
Twitter is intoxicating. It’s a drug that lures you in and won’t let go. There are a few problems of course, none more so than the aforementioned character limitation which can make it tricky to articulate what you would like to say in a clear and concise manner. Add in some fiery debates about race or politics or religion and you have a pretty big recipe for disaster.
Here’s a formula which best describes how Twitter works in these cases.
Highly charged topic + You have three sentences to put forward every idea about said topic = AAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
But this isn’t in itself Twitter’s biggest problem. Twitter’s biggest problem for me can best be described by an incident that happened to me last week when I got into an argument with a girl on the other team I was playing soccer against.
When Push Comes to Shove
The team we were playing this particular week had a bit of a reputation for being a bit rough but it’s certainly nothing I haven’t encountered much worse while playing football back home. But still one player really riled me up this particular game. She took offense at me using my arm to shield myself from her, her teammates and the ball.
Now I wasn’t pushing her in the face or anywhere else for that matter, but I did create an extra layer of protection. She didn’t like it and made it very known that she didn’t like it. Then another of her teammates made it known that he didn’t like it. I became increasingly frustrated because maybe I’m used to football being a bit more physical and so I genuinely couldn’t see what the fuss was about.
So we got into a bit of a verbal shouting match. I essentially told her that she was being a baby and then they scored and she got in my face, gave me the finger and did something that really pushed me over the edge.
She made fun of my accent (I’m from Northern Ireland but live in Detroit) and then she called me English. Now, the accent is one thing but calling me English is another matter all together.
I may have then in a very gently and completely kind manner pointed out her inaccurate understanding of the complicated nature of British and Irish geopolitics, by shouting “I’m not even English you idiot”
And that was that. I was gone. I had lost my head in the game and I swiftly took myself off.
I came back on later but it was too late. I couldn’t concentrate and I was pretty much useless to the rest of my team. I came home and continually played the game over and over in my mind. I fantasized about getting revenge on their whole team by dribbling past them all, leaving embarrassed opponents in my wake, scoring the winner with the last kick of the ball.
I came home, told Brittany about what happened and text a couple of friends to vent. I apologized to my team mates and went to sleep, putting the whole thing behind me.
Except, when I woke up it was still in my thoughts. I just couldn’t let it go.
This sound familiar to anyone?
It’s something I’ve found myself doing quite a bit recently. Someone will rile me up, or question me or criticize me and I play over and over in my mind getting one up on them somehow. That’s where Twitter comes it. Very often I read a mention (Twitter talk y’all) and instead of engaging with the person who wrote it calmly and without any need to prove myself, I need to get one up on them.
I want to see them embarrassed and ashamed and I want to have the Twitter world lifting me on their collective shoulders tweeting my name over and over and over.
I let myself become consumed by someone and it’s not healthy.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Luckily for me (and you if any of this sounds remotely familiar) the “Tools” also has a tool for such an occasion. Oh btw if you are wandering in here and haven’t got a clue what any of this is about maybe start here before carrying on.
Firstly, I spend some time imagining my heart fill up with the infinite amount of Love in the world. (Remember, it’s not a finite source) As I do this I allow myself to feel this rather than just believing it on some sort of theoretical level. I then see my heart, full of this Love contract back down a normal healthy size.
This is the point when I imagine the Love transmitting out of me, straight into the core of the other person. I see this connection as something unbreakable and in this moment I see the other person as deeply connected to me in a very human sense. I don’t see them as the enemy, I see them as another person.
Then I relax and feel this energy come back to me. It’s not wasted and it’s infinite.
Is this easy? Honestly, I probably find it the hardest of the Tools as my sense of injustice still rises up and I begin to believe that I am wasting precious resources on someone who may not even care. Which is ironic especially I don’t seem to have a problem wasting the precious resources of time, replaying hurts and wounds over and over in my head.
But that changes once we begin to see the other person for who they are. One of the reasons I believe we get suckered into debates on Twitter or Facebook that just leave us stuck in our own heads is because it’s very difficult to see the person we deeply disagree with as human. They are clearly wrong and because they stand against everything we believe in it’s difficult to just let it go.
But this reveals a deeper problem; one that “Active Love” deals with head on. It’s that we see Love as a limited energy. We see it like physical energy which eventually runs out until we can build it up again through food or rest. But Love takes on another form. Love is ironic because you can give love but it never runs out. In fact, the more you give, the more you have.
I think this is the reason why so many of us have a hard time accepting ourselves, because ultimately we see love as this limited pool and we think that we finally run out of patience and that people must see now how much of an asshole we really are and will therefore hold back and so we sort of protect ourself.
But giving out limitless love is of course, like so much of this work, easier said than done. We continue to let that person live inside our mind because we don’t want to waste our precious resource of Love on someone who can’t accept it.
Now you may have the same hesitations as I did when I first encountered this way of thinking. What about those people that continue to abuse your love and don’t change the way we want to? Well as I’ve discovered for myself, that’s pretty much to miss the point of this tool. We’re not trying to change anyone else. We can’t. I don’t need to become best friends with the player that I had the argument with. I don’t need them to be nice to me next time we play the team.
I don’t need her to change because if I did, I’m essentially saying, “look I have a limited amount of this stuff to give out and if you don’t change because of it, then I’m just wasting my time.”
But then what we realize is that the person that is trapped isn’t the other person at all. It’s ourselves.
So I spent some time practicing Active Love in the hours and day after that match with not much success. Sometimes, that’s the frustrating thing about the Tools. They take work, but when they work, boy do they work.
And so we played the team again just this evening. In fact, as I finish writing this post I just returned home from the game. How did it go, I hear you ask with baited breath?