Social Media and the Freedom to NOT Hear Your Speech
I often see people angry on social media because someone deleted a comment off their page. Usually, the person, whose comment got deleted, moves the comment to another page and says,
“I put this comment on so and so’s page, they deleted it”,
Followed by one of these statements
“but I think people have a right to see this.”
“and so many people agreed with me.”
“it must be because they were offended/knew I was right/didn’t want the truth to get out.”
Here is the thing. That page belongs to them and they have every right, for whatever reason, to delete your comment. Yes, it is public but so is Target, McDonald’s and the local high school down the street. We all know that we cannot walk into Target and denigrate the check out girl, stand in the parking lot and advertise for Wal-Mart or set up a podium in the pharmacy and share our opinions about the Morning After Pill.
Target opened their stores for a purpose and they have every right to create an environment that serves that purpose. The same is true for social media, blog posts and internet articles. People set up pages and profiles to create a space to share what they love. They have the right to keep the energy of that space a certain way. It does not mean they are a bad person, that they are hiding something, or that they even disagree with you. Sometimes, it just is not the right place for it. Even if they did delete it because they don’t want the world to know your point of view, that is still their right.
Here is the good news. You can start your own page, blog, profile and say whatever it is you want! Just like that person spent countless time, money and resources building their page to the point where you felt it would be a good platform for your opinion, you can do the same thing.
I absolutely have had my comments deleted….and gotten angry about it because I felt that
It was not until I started my own thing that I understood. I thought back on times where my comments were deleted and every single time they were absolutely inappropriate. They were not within the spirit and purpose of that person’s page. That was their house and I brought my bags and tried to move in without their permission. They had every right to throw me out.
Deep down, we have to ask ourselves, what is our true purpose in leaving a comment? I don’t practice Iyengar so I am not a member of any Iyengar Yoga practitioner groups. Even if I was, I would not say anything negative on their page because I know that it is a page for people who love Iyengar Yoga and I am just a visitor there. The people, in that group, have a right to a safe place where they can share their love of their guru and practice. If I had a problem with something they posted, I would write a post on my personal blog, Instagram or Facebook page. I would not hijack one of their Instagram posts or their FB page to state my point of view.
Something to ask yourself, before you comment, is “would I say this or something similar , to the person’s face, in public?” I know you want to say, “hell, yeah” but really would you? So when you go to a gathering where people have different beliefs or faiths then you, do you state your opinion without being asked? Do you interrupt the prayer to talk about how Jesus is not real? Do you go up to random children at Christmas and tell them there is no Santa Claus? Do you interrupt strangers, that you over hear talking politics at a restaurant, and explain to them that Trump really is going to make America great again? Do you walk up to pregnant teens on the street and say, “shame on you!” I betcha you don’t.
There is something about social media that sometimes makes people act completely out of their character. Where they would never criticize a women in person for her choice of yoga clothes, they have no problem doing it online. Where they would never interrupt someone in the middle of a teaching in person, they will do it online. Seriously, if I won’t say something to someone’s face, I won’t type it here or put it in a comment. If I cannot say it to someone’s face, there is a part of me that knows that it goes against the yogic principal of non violent speech, ahimsa. Sometimes, it is because their is a dichotomy inside of me that is making my words stuck in my throat. I also know that I need to take a look at that as well. I definitely don’t need to blurt it out or write it down.
Many of you are probably thinking, “freedom of speech.” For sure. But people also have the freedom to NOT hear your speech… and delete it or walk away if they want to. You have the right to be angry about it, for sure. However, as practitioners of yoga, hopefully you stop and unpack that anger and figure out its root source. One of my yoga teacher friends says most suffering ends with us dead in the gutter aka abhinivesa, fear of death. Meaning that, if we follow it to the end, there is a part of us that feels that, if it is not expressed, it will die. That is the whole premise behind karma. We have these desires that won’t die so we have to keep coming back until we live them out. The purpose of yoga is to stop the cycle of karma. It is to realize that, nope, we won’t die if we don’t act on our negative emotions. If you are lucky, eventually, you won’t feel the need to act on it. If you are really, really lucky, you won’t have them at all. Someone will delete your comment and you will go, “huh, look at that” and you will move on.