There's a book that I have read to both of my children as they were growing up. It is called "You are Special" by Max Lucado. The message is about personal worth and self-esteem, and it is a religious book. It's about a town where wooden toys go around giving others gold stars if they are beautiful or talented and gray dots if they aren't. All day long, the 'Wemmicks' as they are called, walk around and if there are toys that can do cartwheels, they hand out stars. If they are broken or chipped, they hand out dots. The main character named Punchinello gets only gray dots. He is neither beautiful or talented. He meets someone who has no dots or stars, and learns how to not let those dots stick. It is a beautiful story.
This morning it hit me. We all live in that world. We all rush to different social media sites and put stars or dots on each other. It is easy because of the level of anonymity. Even if you know the person in real life, you respond with a smile or a heart to their status or opinion, and move on.
Social media has allowed for people to go around putting virtual stars or dots on people. Facebook has emoji's that you can put on people's status. You can like an opinion on Newsvine. Don't like the article? Report it with a gray dot. If enough people report it then the article gets taken down. Twitter seems like the ultimate place of judgement with stars and dots as the user is limited as to how many words or letters they can say, but they give opinions with memes or pictures. We even ask 'Who are you following on Instagram?' and Twitter has followers as well.
I fear that all those emoji's and 'likes' have led me to a place where I simply hand out my judgement and stop listening. I have stopped trying to understand, and I have stopped listening.
The emoji's, the stars and the dots I think started from a good place, but they have just allowed for us to react and move on quickly.
I am guilty of handing out stars and dots. I even feel justified over it at times. I'm not going to take a break and I'm not leaving, but trying to find a balance of listening and handing out stickers can be exhausting at times. I'm going to try to practice more listening and observing versus handing out my judgments in the form of stars and dots. I would never quit Facebook, as I have friends and family all over the world and I don't want to loose that contact with them. They mean too much to me.
I feel that a lot of us have lost that ability to listen. We read something and cheer for it or disapprove and put our stamp of approval or our angry sticker on it and move on, regardless of the long term effects. The rush to judge and react is common and encouraged. To really listen requires effort.
It certainly doesn't allow for us as a nation to move forward collectively does it?