How Facebook has Hijacked Empathy and Compassion | Amrita GraceI’m really disgusted with Facebook right now, because I’ve been learning about their business model, which is based in greed and manipulation. I’ve learned that they are collecting our data constantly, using it to modify our behavior without us knowing it, and selling that to the highest bidder. Ignorance was bliss for a very long time, and now that I know, I can’t un-know what I now know.

This information came through a documentary called “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, in which several high-profile former Silicon Valley techies reveal their inside knowledge and alarm at what it’s all evolved into; how it’s shifting our society. These folks don’t use social media and don’t let their kids use it. That led me to a book called “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” by Jaron Lanier, one of the most intelligent (and compassionate) guys in the aforementioned tech industry. Jaron (who was also interviewed in “The Social Dilemma”) outlined the greed-based business model and the lack of transparency and accountability that Facebook (and its holdings such as WhatsApp and Instagram) and Google are getting very rich from. What that amounts to is not only mining our data and invading our personal lives, but using that data to manipulate our emotions (often toward negative emotions) in order to influence us toward buying whatever their customers are selling. And often, that’s propaganda and lies. Because we are not the customers. We are the product.

Who am I without Facebook?

How can we change this? Jaron believes the only way is to get off all social media until the social media platforms realize through their losses that they have to change their business model. That’s not going to happen nearly fast enough for me. As an entrepreneur, I am very connected on Facebook and have groups and pages that I curate. While I no longer run ads, I do want to stay connected to people who are drawn to my offerings. I’m concerned that leaving Facebook will disconnect me too much. I’m looking for another way, a way that doesn’t rely on the grindingly slow wheels of progress of a huge, soul-less, money making machine.

Revenge of the bots

As I sit with this and share these educational resources on Facebook, I can only imagine that the Facebook bots will minimize who sees my posts even more. After a period of griping about it and feeling angry, I’m coming to realize that what’s been lost on social media is empathy, compassion, and the ability to accept that not everyone has the same opinions. What saddens me most is the fact that the fakest news becomes the most sensationalized and viral and is so often perceived as truth by the masses, even though fake news is a pandemic right along with COVID.

It’s there if you look for it

It’s not as if empathy and compassion are completely absent, they’re not. I am connected with many heartfelt and compassionate people who regularly bring these qualities to social media. And it’s not as if I haven’t curated my newsfeed to be uplifting and positive, I have. It’s just not enough. I can feel the negative energy moving behind all the nice posts, in the background, and it doesn’t feel good at all.

One of my personal convictions is that the only way to change the world is to change ourselves, and I’m finding my way back to that truth.

  • How can I show up with more empathy and compassion on social media?
  • How can I curate a space that feels uplifting and positive to me and those who read my posts?
  • How can I use my influence to make social media a better place?
  • And, as a classic shadow work question, in what ways am I greedy and manipulative?

What we need more than ever…

During this crazy year of 2020, so many people are at the end of their ropes. We have no way of knowing what someone is going through on the inside, regardless of what they post. Add in the separation and isolation of COVID and the fraught tension of the US election… tempers are frayed; nervous systems are overwhelmed. What we need more than ever is tenderness and care.

I want to live in a world where people have empathy and compassion for each other. I want to live in a world where it’s okay for others to have a different perspective from mine. I’m really not interested in a homogenized human race. But where do we draw the line when people become verbally abusive on social media? I want to be welcoming to many perspectives, and I’m not willing to tolerate abusive, hateful, misogynistic, or racist comments. I’ve also had it with baseless conspiracy theories that perpetuate and sensationalize propaganda in an endless loop of distraction and wasted energy.

The joys of global connection

I love being connected to people all over the world. I love wishing people a happy birthday on Facebook, and receiving birthday greetings on my timeline each year. It’s actually the only time I ever open my timeline for others to post, during a 3 day window around my birthday. I don’t really want to leave social media. At the same time, no matter how cautiously I avoid my newsfeed, refrain from posting controversial material that might bring out the crazies, and use it only as a broadcast medium, it’s never going to replace real connection.

Coming back to real connection with real, actual people feels like the cure right now. Even if that has to be on zoom or the phone. I want to hear your voice, see your face and body language, hold space for your feelings with compassion and presence. That simply cannot happen easily on social media.

Questions without answers

I realize that I’ve posed more questions than answers here, and I’m okay with that. I don’t have all the answers, or any answers, really. Only you can know what’s true and right for you. As we educate ourselves about the systems that no longer work in our world, it stirs things up inside. But without that knowledge, we are back to blissful ignorance and the status quo. No one ever said that change is easy. Especially systemic, world-wide, evolutionary change. I’m in for doing whatever I can to create a new world based in real connection, compassion, empathy, love, and support. If I’m going to stay on social media, I will do everything I can to bring those values to my social media experience, for myself and for whomever chooses to interact with me.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

Love & blessings, Amrita (Learn more about my work and my global vision)