Want to change the world with social media? We live in a world where tiny touches and clicks can move thousands of hearts and minds. But, without the right approach, it's also easy to use social media to reinforce old, outdated paradigms - and contradict the very values you are trying to spread. This is to share some of what I have learned about how the mind and communication works, and how you can be a positive cultural force through your daily post.
- Regular posting: First, commit to be regular. Plan to do a post every day that spreads what you value, and your stories and ways of seeing the world. Practice and repetition is essential. Do it consistently, use a habit-supporting app like Way of Life of StickK to help you.
- Stop the chain: Commit to completely stop sharing anything that repeats and amplifies the message of any candidate whose values you are not aligned with. In fact, do not even repost anything that includes the name of that candidate. Cognitive science has proven that whether if you are attacking or deriding them, you are helping them.
- Engage with views you disagree with: Finally, commit to at least one timeslot per week (for instance 1 afternoon, 2-3 hours) in which you will bring the BEST of your intellectual power, empathic love and creativity, with TOTAL focus, to try to better UNDERSTAND AND AUTHENTICALLY CONNECT WITH those who you disagree with. You could do this by consuming media you disagree with, or holding having an open, curious, reflective phone conversation or chat with someone who holds different views than you, for instance. Take it in non-judgmentally. New ideas will arise.
Metaphors structure our thinking and our debate. To raise the level of debate, we need to introduce new metaphors that will be a bridge to new realities. Here is my take on some NEW metaphors and messages that, I believe, need to be introduced and reinforced. They directly contradict and provide alternatives for current frames being repeated all over the media (including social media and conversation).
Humanity is a Family
Fear is an Enemy / a Liar / an Obsolete, Useless Tool
Impulsive Ideas are a Waste of Good Money
Quick Fixes are the Enemy
Steady Solutions are the Real Hero
Curiosity is a Muscle
Freedom is a Healthy Body
Family is a Launchpad
Humanity is a family
This metaphor replaces the obsolete but popular metaphor that "the nation is a family" or "my race is my family." It shifts focus away from haggling over "-isms" and "political correctness."
Fear is an enemy | Fear a liar | Fear an obsolete, useless tool
"Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father," according to cognitive scientist George Lakoff. Today, the "obedience-to-a-strict-father" worldview can do more harm to freedom, diversity and earth than we might imagine. These new metaphors focus attention on the problem of fear itself and offer alternatives, like curiosity and health.
Impulsive ideas are a waste of good money | Quick fixes are the enemy | Steady solutions are the real hero
Fearful people want things to change quickly, and sometimes they are seduced into believing that simple, direct actions will be effective in removing the situation they fear. "Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation," as Lakoff also notes. It may be that the people you disagree with embrace direct causation. We can help them have confidence in the power of understanding systemic causation.
Share compelling personal examples of impulsive ideas wasting money, vs. slow, steady solutions creating results.
Curiosity is a muscle
This metaphor focuses on the virtue of curiosity, and the fact that it's in our control. The attitude of curiosity has the power to transform fear. Help people who feel weak and scared of "others" flip this by embodying and activating and celebrating curiosity.
Freedom is a healthy body | Family is a launchpad
There are a lot of broken, sick, traumatized bodies in the authoritative "strict father" world. Deep down people know that this isn't how life should be. Reinforce over and over again that "a strong/loving family means you feel free/happy/healthy/good/strong/alive" and "freedom feels beautiful and healthy."
With these new metaphors we will reclaim the words "freedom" and "family," and infuse them with healthy meaning.
- DON'T repeat/amplify things that don't express your values. STOP THE CHAIN.
- DON'T try to get people to consider the facts. That does not help. Focus on values, frames and metaphors.
- DON'T take on a snide, sarcastic, intellectually superior tone. Speak from your heart with love and humility and openness and curiosity.
- DON'T get tempted by comedy, irony, political satire, subtle or overt humor about the players. Although these can be educational and enjoyable, THESE DO NOT HELP and actually reinforce old, outdated, obsolete, frames. They are too subtle to make the massive gigantic shifts we need to make. Sharing them is NOT ENOUGH.
- DON'T MAKE FUN OF PEOPLE. Don't say mean things about any individual. It doesn't help.
- DON'T BE VIOLENT OR DESTRUCTIVE. Take a strong stand against the use of destructive force from anyone in any form.
- DON'T GIVE UP. Don't be cynical. Cynicism is just fear in disguise. It is old, outdated, obsolete, and uncool. We can do this with discipline, humility, curiosity, slow and steady.
- DON'T OVERTHINK IT. Repetition is essential. You don't need to always create a creative new message. Repeat, repeat, repeat. And, share and amplify the work of those who are finding fresh ways to express these metaphors.
- DON'T STOP after the election. There is a lot of work to do. It will take decades change minds that have been damaged by the past decades of media.
Question - please share:
What kinds of stories, images, examples, case histories, headlines, hashtags, games, t-shirts, slogans, stunts, bumper stickers, ETC would bring to life these metaphors ? Let your imagination run wild and then KEEP at it.
Let's do it - and as we do, remember that we ARE one human family, and let our every tiny interaction be infused with that loving kindness to one another. It's all those tiny touches - genuine hugs and smiles - that might REALLY change the world. So, let's do it, let's change the world, one embrace at a time. Love, Mitra