A Meditation on using Facebook as a Village gathering space and more……

by Bob Banner

I thought it might be wise to entertain myself, as well as possibly others, as to what goes on in my mind as I stroll along the Facebook village. Since I spend so much time there I thought it would be good and wise to ruminate as well as meditate.

I initially got quite excited because I could invite people to some events that I and my friends were involved in. And, of course, the unconscious kicks in. I’m a promoter (archetype) unlike a “browser” or “onlooker” or incessant “critic” or other myriad personality types that emerge from time to time. I would promote events that I aligned with since that’s what I also was doing with a publication I published for nearly 20 years: HopeDance. I find events (or events are sent to me) somehow and I promote them whether they are foodie events, cultural change workshops, meditation retreats, dance gigs, events I felt were helpful toward humanity’s awakening, spiritually speaking as well as culturally.

I had a friend who was telling me one day about certain things that he had seen on Facebook. He told me he saw them at a “newsgroup.” So I asked him what is a newsgroup? I must have been on Facebook for a year before I pursued the newsgroup seriously. I was so busy promoting and sharing that I never bothered to see what others were sharing! The photos or quotes or video clips that “other” people thought were of interest. Oh my word! I thought to myself. I’m sort of myopic, seeing the world through singular eyes. I was so busy promoting things of my interests that I never pursued paying attention to what others (my “facebook friends”) also thought were important, enough to post comments and likes on their walls. A most interesting and humbling revelation! not to judge it but to simply observe my behavior as I traveled through the facebook world.

Recently I’ve started to have an interest in other people’s offerings. And if I wanted what I liked to be on my wall I immediately understood what sharing was all about, just a click away so that I too could have cool things on my wall. It was a magazine publisher in me that had its wild and festive time of accumulating cool and positive news that I too could have on my wall or at the various Facebook sites, htat I discovered I could create, based on my assorted interests.

One time I found myself on someone else’s wall by mistake and yet I was reading the comments. If I clicked “like” I too could add my comments. I’m not sure exactly what the conversation was about but I added my two cents. Within seconds I got a response and rather than being seen as a competent and wise remarks, I got royally criticized for being an arrogant asshole. Wow, talk about wild sensations streaming throughout my body. I felt it. I read his note over and over again so I could stay with the emotion and explore the inner workings of it. Still feeling the wild sensations within my body, how could I respond in a mature way not revealing any emotional reactivity and still be part of the conversation? But I managed to do it. After I clicked return, I went away probably to get a snack or to make some tea and when I came back, 2 to 3 people had made vicious attacks on my comment. More than just commenting on the comments, they were attacking ME. At least that’s how my emotions were communicating to me. Once again I felt the energetic and wild sensations run through me, knowing I had become attached to this process and stared at the screen and reread their comments that were outright nasty. Yet I found myself reading them as a form of meditation to see how attached I was to their particular viewpoint. I didn’t know those people, they didn’t know me and now three had “attacked” me. As I sat there I instinctively knew I was the outsider and perhaps it all started on the wrong foot, as it were, and for the first time and actually last time, I simply and slowly and patiently removed my “like” on that page, and sat there as all the comments and page quickly disappeared… And now they couldnt be able to ever find me.

Wow, I thought to myself, this was a new initiation of entering the world of Facebook. I felt defeated, almost a sense of shame as I returned to my Facebook promoting  and took a total break from getting involved with conversations with people I didn’t know. Perhaps it was similar to “early man” who might have wandered to far away from “home” only to realize that the new group of strangers either wanted to kill me or actually did kill me.

Not only was I posting my “cool” things on my Facebook wall, I later found out I could create groups and pages and invite people and promote those groups to other groups, etc., like feeling the need for carpooling in SLO, so I created one, invited people I sort of knew who didn’t have cars or who were asking for rides on other pages. I didn’t know if it worked but at least there’s a group there if anyone needs it. Id visit it occasionally to see how it was going and it has that feature that if anyone comments on it, I get an email about it (no wonder the number of emails I am currently receiving now is outrageous.

And I wanted there to be a cool events page so I created one just for the County so it could be a group page where others could post cool events (and now its up to 500+ members). And then it was Water resources and then chemtrails (nearly 600) and now sacred activism in the Tri-County area. It got to be sortof contagious, but I was simply allowing my passions to move into the facebook world and allowed it to expand my world to see how others too were becoming part of this new world and how they were using it as well.

My favorite one that I created was called Roving Acts of Kindness which hardly has been touched but it was an attempt to gather people to purposefully look for things in a mall or down the street or down farmers market and look for where there was a need to simply do some act of kindness, with a group of people. It took the cool verbiage of  “random acts of kindness” and rather than just individualizing it, I thought it would be cool to have a group of people of three to five people roaming around with the intention of being kind to whatever they saw that was necessary along the way. But it never took off. Perhaps it was too far into the future.

Laughter mob flashes, free hugs, dancing while walking down the streets… strange in the very beginning are growing in interest. Facebook seems to be a place where ideas can either flop, or take off with all sorts of emotions that have certain events, promotions, what friends of yours will like your page or will attend that particular gig. All of it is life like but somehow all happening in this odd yet meticulously designed village called Facebook.

Another one of my favorites that I created was the Giddy Institute. I wrote an article deconstructing what I defined as giddy so that others could read it, appreciate it for its outright “profundity” and “godliness” which giddy actually has at its roots from the word “God” and listing a way for one to understand one’s giddy moments in order to expand upon them. But, nope, once again what I thought was a cool idea, died. For more info, visit the giddy institute: http://www.hopedance.org/home/laughter-happiness/1921-bob-banner

One never knows how ideas may spread or not. Or if it’s too soon, or too late, or what just arrived at a particular time and space and suddenly takes the human on a course of complete resonance with the automatic intention of sharing it viscerally so that it grows and grows. And once again it’s an interesting exercise to see what happens, what doesn’t happen. In fact during a deep conversation gathering that I have in my home I recall a number of us laughing at the realization or the poking fun at ourselves around sitting there in front of our computers or iPads waiting for people to “like” our comment. It’s all pretty funny when you think of it. And perhaps because so many of us don’t live in a village/tribe/family/extended family, Facebook has become a way for us to satisfy some of those needs that us humans have from God knows where they come from.

Another thing I do on Facebook that I spend way too much time on is inviting people to my film events and other gigs. I particularly enjoy spending a second on each little photo and making a speedy decision whether to click that little box or to simply move on. And in that split second all sorts of information comes to me: my judgments, evaluations, love, disharmony, appreciations and whether they moved out of the area or I haven’t seen that person or they won’t be interested in it or they ought to be interested in it or I wonder what they’re up to. It’s very weird yet in this strange sense they are in this village, a sense of people, a way to reveal my judgments, my secret desires, my lies, my seducing with words, my vulnerability. I also learn about myself, what I appreciate about myself, what don’t I appreciate. It’s almost as if it’s a form of a confessional box like I experienced when I was a young Catholic boy revealing sins to a person I couldn’t even see because it was all cloaked in darkness and whispers and punishments.

And to use Facebook to sense changes in myself, to see how others could have changed, could be changing not unlike myself to see people differently to see them as possibly going through difficult times, to see them possibly being really happy. I’m thinking perhaps I ought to send a note to them, not just to poke, but a note so they know I’m thinking about them, or that I just saw them dancing, or shopping, or riding a bike and then there is a sense of continuity even though no words in the real world were ever expressed by either of us. A village with rarely a time for conversation! Weird, and no wonder I created these deep conversation gatherings in my home since it fulfills a need I have and is very nourishing to be present in body form when people are speaking deeply. I just have to say this: one DCG was so deep and good that for the last 15 minutes of the evening I think it is safe to say that we all entered into that glorious giddy space where an openness to someone who we may not even be familiar with, was heard and was listening.

For a long time when I asked film audiences if they came from Facebook it was always a low number, never the number of people that clicked going. So be it, since I do the same, to say I’m going but then I don’t go. But lately more are coming from that invitation page. The other day I found myself thinking that who are all these friends that I keep inviting? Are they truly my friends? Who are they really? Do I think that they really need to see a film? Do I really want them to feel deeply the pain and suffering of the world? or the fantastic solutions that people have devoted their time and energy to create a film that they passionately believe in? Do I really and deeply want them to experience what I have discovered in a film that is so inspiring and uplifting that there is an exquisitely high feeling that comes over me as the credits and the music flow? Is it just my way to connect, to share like other people who desire the same whether they are musicians performing at a club nearby, or artists who want us to see their work/play during Art After Dark or somebody who wants to share their food that they’ve spent a lot of love and energy preparing? Facebook has allowed me to go deeper into this human drama and to feel how similar we all are, how similar I am with the others as if the separation that I imagine is becoming thinner and thinner. Wouldn’t that be a kick if Facebook was actually designed for us to truly be transparent so that consciousness could expand and be revealing of the human condition?

But to get back to what I was saying, I noticed that they (these friends) may not need something that I have to offer and that’s okay so one thing I ought to say or write somehow before inviting is “you might not need to see this film or experience whatever it is I’m promoting… but perhaps you know someone who may need or want to attend.” That way they may get a sense of recognition from me and perhaps a personal touch, not like a poke but more of a hand on a shoulder. Perhaps, Facebook is developing and designing such an icon right now!

Another facet about Facebook that needs to be discussed is the love, the likes, the sharing. A photo with particular quote can touch my heart, while that’s a real live energy coming into my body and my being that is quite visceral. It may not be the touching aspect, the physical touching aspect or the personalized deep conversation but when it hits a chord I certainly “love” the person who either initiated it or shared it. The wisdom and depth that happens is contagious and yet it’s all pretty except for the price of my Internet connection sometimes I see these 2 to 4 minute video clips that are either outrageously funny or sobbing lead deep, revealing daily miracles. Not the time to judge my time in front of the computer but it’s a way to question what am I receiving from these connections, the sharing these promotions these responses these comments… Are they all symbolic of a battle of the minds to convince someone that I’m right and they are wrong? I think something else is happening, some common ground is being miraculously incurs from both the depths and from the evolutionary heights of what it means to be human. I think it’s fascinating.

Some of the TED talks that I’ve seen are just riveting. I feel like I’m in a healthy college once again being inundated with so much knowledge, information, inspirational talks, passionate revelations and activism that comes directly from the heart… in some particular TED talks I have actually felt this feeling that encourages someone or me to say “it’s a good day to die.” I’ve heard of that in relationship to Native American literature and culture but one day I actually experienced it. I couldn’t believe it. Where did that come from, I asked myself. That I could die right now and it would be okay and everything would be just perfect. And when I reflected on it I realized that what was occurring is that there was so much “optimism” (for lack of a better word) in a particular person on stage, the passion of their voice, the commitments of changing themselves and the world was so daunting that something in me relaxed.  It’s as if I knew that things were going to work themselves out, that I could relax, that another generation was moving into positions of power and position to create a new world.

Has this ever happened to you? Do we spend enough time reflecting on what it is we are doing? I feel so grateful that I can make the time and want the time to reflect on feelings to feel feelings to think about and contemplate and meditate about many things that I may not ever had time to do before.

Decades before, I was always rushing around to prove my viewpoint is the correct one and that the world has to change for my sake. And slowly that viewpoint shifts away, is being chipped away, is not as important as it once was. What’s more important is the mystery of life, the unknowing nature of things, called spirituality or whatever you want to call it… and for me to feel grateful, to experience gratitude, genuine gratitude rather than the incessant complaining that somehow the world is wrong, that God must be evil to have created so much suffering. Yes of course there’s suffering, and yes I’ve always wanted to do something about it, somehow and now somehow the only person I can truly change is myself and use whatever I have, my voice, my fingers, my love, my appreciation, my anger, all my feelings twirling and whirling around and knowing I am the world: the world is inside me, and I simply want to be that change. I want to be able to listen to people as if they are me speaking to me, with the intention, with desire, with ferocity of purpose, all dancing around, laughing around, crying around all moving deliriously, happily as I can really keep walking through this most underappreciated place in this universe. And what are our lessons which doesn’t mean to be destroying our host.

I came across a book the other day called Vampires are Us, where oil is the blood, the earth is the host, and we are the vampires. Can we really as humanity wake up in time? Some days are so full of despair and avoidance; other days and moments I feel this profound appreciation, a profound exhilaration and optimism that goes way beyond myself, that this is a most glorious future era of people being seen, being heard, having an actual government that is not controlled by corporate money but really being the voice of the people who are waking up with deepth in their hearts, that we are very very simple, needing friendship, needing love, needing clean air, needing regenerative policies to start giving back to the earth, to feel once again and that without the earth we humans simply would and will not exist. And with that I see a glorious optimism can emerge from time to time, glimpsing into a future that is now in small circles where people dance, laugh, meditate, pray, work for healthy products, for good, for love, so the energy in our hearts shining out from the inside and outside no more barriers, no more crunched faces of deceit and deviousness, but new faces of vulnerability and sweetness and a new creativity from a place that has been allowed to be touched.

And if facebook or other forms of social media can do that, then by all means bring it on. By learning about it here, meditating and reflecting how we relate with people online, it will only be natural to bring it out into the world, be more courageous and require that we live by these new standards.

Thanks for listening and reading.

bob banner
I can be reached at info@hopedance.org
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