Because so much language comes at each of us every day, people who try to communicate with us have to really hone their messages. They get shorter, snappier, simpler.
Aggressive in their reductionism.
For how can a desire for beauty in one’s life be reduced to two words?
How can my desire to connect with other people in an intimate way be contained in a sentence?
We are evolving, living beings.
And we are constantly reading short definitive statements about our most basic needs.
Here are the next four news articles in my Facebook feed right now:
1. Why Trees Are The Ultimate Meditation Teachers 2. Free Yourself Of Your Harshest Critic, And Plow Ahead 3. Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis Women In Their 20’s And 30’s Should Not Ignore 4. A Conscious Perspective On Relationships
All four of theses articles are out to do good. They come from good publications and I’m sure they provide a lot of value. I purposely haven’t read them.
Here’s what marketing has pushed us to do with our language:
1. Trees are the “ultimate” meditation teachers. I read ultimate to mean - best. And the statement is worded in such a way that we are to believe this is true - a fact. Or at least a strong assertion.
In contrast to the more nuanced, true, and difficult-to-put-in-a-headline idea that meditation is a practice - dynamic, as different as each person that practices it. A practice with many different methods and goals. And sometimes with no goals at all.
2. This one is more of an instruction. Perhaps the article will tell us how. I imagine the true headline might be, “some thoughts about how we hold ourselves back in our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with others and some thoughts about how we might move forward in a new way.”
The language keeps us clicking in a high arousal state. Looking for magic bullets, solutions, answers. Rather than realizing that we are really being accompanied by other thinkers - expressing themselves, alongside us. Much to learn from them and no definitive answers, either.
3. Fear. I feel fear. I want to click on this article just to make sure I and everyone I love is OK. What good does this fear do? Perhaps it helps a few people diagnose M.S. early - I don’t know. I know it’s hard to diagnose. It’s a tough call here. I feel we need good preventative health care information and practitioners and it’s fair to say preventative health care is not a strength of most medical systems. But scrolling Facebook and feeling fear I or those I love might have M.S. when there is no reason to believe in this moment we might, well, if we create our own realities the readers of this headline's realities got a little sicker and more fearful. There is a better way to get this information. There has to be.
4. This author has a conscious perspective. Does this author not have an unconscious?
I don’t mean to critique the authors here. The pressure to write headlines like this is enormous. And we all want our work to be read.
My purpose here is to elucidate the tension that exists. The tension that is being created in us that makes us want to click. It’s a pushing. A pushing that I resist rationally but if I am in an insecure place, I click: Save me! Oh, right, nothing here… on to the next. Because what I really needed in that moment was not instruction but a helping hand to sit with myself and see the process through.
Writing the headline is my absolute least favourite part of each post. What I want to offer my readers is a little journey with me and my thoughts on a Tuesday morning. I don’t promise to solve anything. Our lives are so much more than a blog post.
What is the impact of reading headlines like this day after day?
What does it do to our thinking?
What does it do to our souls?
You and I are more than slogans.
We are not brands - no one colour or image represents us.
We engage symbolically - using symbols to represent what we cannot yet explain fully in words.
We are each made up of every colour.
The internet is a part of life. Even before the internet marketing was everywhere.
An important piece, I think, is grappling with it. Allowing ourselves to be impacted by the language and not to acquiesce.
What do I mean by acquiesce?
I mean believe that the answers are to be found in short blog articles.
Restrict our reading to short articles only.
Allow fear to drive our media diet….
We need to find ways of legitimizing ourselves.
Over and over again we hear what we don’t know, what is uncertain, and what is terrible.
What if for every article we read we spent 10 minutes writing out our own thoughts about the topic?
What if we talked out our thinking with others, in conversation.
What does it mean to be healthy?
What should my family and I eat?
How can we prevent illness in the future?
What do I mean by illness?
What is it about a particular illness or misfortune that frightens me?
Why do I fear some difficulties and not others?
How much of my thinking resides in the future?
Am I missing what is happening right now?
Your thinking is your life.
By your thinking I mean your moment to moment associations and connections.
Arising from your feelings, experiences, consciousness and unconscious.
Water your life.
This article lobs a soft beach ball over to your court.