Posted by: Tess (Piyadassi) | November 21, 2011

Would Buddha tweet?

I blog, therefore I am.

With apologies to René Descartes, presence in the virtual world has become synonymous with proof of existence. It is no longer enough just to think to establish one’s presence on the planet. Now you need a web address.

Walk down any street, into any restaurant, onto a bus or plane or just glance over at the driver next to you and chances are most of the people you see are plugged in. Ear budded to the latest electronic device, we are a walking, talking and texting society ensconced in social media in all shapes and virtual forms. Telephone landlines will probably go the way of the dodo bird as cellphone only use continues to rise. When you consider Generations Y and Z think emails are passe, if Facebook were a country it would be the third largest in the world, and there are over 200,000,000 blogs on the net, you get a picture of the world we live in right here, right now.

Last week I spent a day immersed in social media. We got up close and viral with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr,  and LinkedIn, with a crash course in Instagram, Four Square, Hootsuite, Quirfy,  and Bitly thrown in. My head was swimming with QR codes, gameification and transmedia possibilities. The coolness of it all was intoxicating. To think there were like-minded communities out there I could connect to not only IRL (that’s In Real Life for you non-dweebs), but at the never-ending social media cocktail party as well.

I  fluffed up my Twitter account (that design is so early 2011), nabbed my real name as my Tweet handle (score!), checked my Facebook privacy settings (no one really needs to know the year I was born), opened accounts on FlickR and Stumbledown and added a couple of widgets to my blog. I was set and raring to go boldly where most 10-34 year olds have already gone before. Sure I’d need to devote more time to my social media game, but it was to connect and get my voice out there and contribute to the betterment of humanity. Right?

Once I got home and started to explore the tweets and posts of friends and those I follow I could feel the frenzy of the day catching up with me. It wasn’t that the information out there wasn’t valid or valuable, it’s just that there was way too much of it for me to take in. I began to feel the pressure and cravings of wanting to do social media the “right way” and not really being sure what the “right way” looked like. In all the craziness I had to ask, what would Buddha do?

Lori Deschene, the founder of TinyBuddha.com, recently wrote a thoughtful article in Tricycle Magazine discussing mindfulness in social media. Intention, authenticity, right speech, kindness and presence are just as much a part of the virtual world as it is the physical one. So many of us are living in a constant state of partial attention, frequently checking our email or texts or tweets yet never fully being present in the moment. Experiencing what is before us right now can create the space for an engaging in-person conversation or a more thoughtful response to an email. Choosing when to engage and how are the mindful choices open to us. As Deschene says, “If you’re mindful when you’re disconnected from technology, you have all the tools you need to be mindful when you go online.”

Social media is here to stay and I’m going to forego the dive for a more mindful wade into the milieu. If the Buddha were here today, what would he do? I think he would embrace it as a way to share the Dhamma and connect with his followers. If given the choice though, I’m betting he’d pass up a live stream from the Bodhi Tree for an IRL one any day.

Ten Mindful Ways to Use Social Media” by Lori Deschene, Tricycle Magazine, Spring 2011

Image: Psychologytoday.com

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Responses

  1. I love this post! He would for sure prefer IRL but he was pretty into meeting folks where they were, wherever that may take him so maybe there could have been some good karmic content from him too.:)


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