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Thread: Avoiding Dualism in the communication age

  1. #1
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Avoiding Dualism in the communication age

    I assume we all have friends, family, acquaintances, etc who hold very strong views. Sometimes they can be down right vile, yes?

    Most days I can sort of watch them come and go like the tide but other times I find myself being caught up in the moment. Yesterday was particularly rough, especially into the evening. I really appreciated the zazen time hosted by Dosho, I'll tell you that! Much needed.

    The first thing to get my emotions stirring was a post by a friend about the passing of Pete Seeger. Now I personally find Pete Seeger to be a very inspirational human being, so I took offense to this persons post. I know that my reaction is my own issue, but still, there it was. When I read the words, "commie scum", and "should have died 60 years sooner", my emotions began stirring. I did a pretty good job of not giving into them though. Here's the real problem...the post was full of downright lies. This is the part I struggle with. When I see things that I know are untrue, especially hateful things, I have a very hard time not arguing.

    The second thing to set me off last night....I posted that I was watching the State of the Union. I shared no opinion, no commentary, nothing. Maybe I was a little sarcastic (maybe the wrong word here) the actual post was something like this. "Yes I am watching, he's the President and I'm an American dammit" I sort of intended it to be slightly funny.

    What I got in reply was vile. Very vile, and I choose not to repeat it here. I fought with my ego on this one, how do I respond? Do I respond? and so on. In the end I chose to simply request this person keep their opinions on their own page and then I deleted their comments. After thinking about it a little longer, I elected to remove them as a friend.

    But now, what to do? Some of these people who hold very different views from mine, truly are friends. I don't want to alienate them by blocking them. that could cost a true friendship. But in some cases I wonder, do I want to be friends with folks who think this way?

    I guess I'm looking for advice. How do you all handle these situations if at all? I had been doing very well with it after slowing down by FB time. But it seems to be causing a disturbance in the force again.

    Gassho,

    Chuck

  2. #2
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I mean, would this be wrong speech? Because this is sort of what I feel like saying....
    264457_650420711687123_1175823080_n.jpg

  3. #3
    Chuck

    It is definitely difficult to come across opposing views, especially those which seem to have little basis in fact or are inappropriately critical of someone who has recently died. The internet means that we are likely to come across these views more often.

    As for handling them, I use one of two strategies. Firstly, if I think the person might be receptive to an alternative viewpoint, I will gently put the case across. Otherwise, I just ignore. Riling people up who will probably get more angry at a different position doesn't benefit anyone. Saying that, it doesn't mean that I am not often wanting to shoot them down in flames with my infallible logical analysis, though!

    Today, a Facebook friend put up a post about how letting 500 Syrian asylum seekers into the UK will mean less jobs and houses for British citizens and more crowded healthcare. I started to write a comment about how these people were fleeing atrocities but remembered this is someone currently going through a hard time on many fronts so chose to delete instead.

    This is a work in progress for me too, Chuck, but the more I engage with other people on the internet, the easier I find it to step away. Also good to ask whether I am engaging in Right Speech - am I posting to satisfy my own ego or actually engage in dialogue with this person in a constructive way? How many of us can always say we are doing the latter? Reading alternative viewpoints to our own can be challenging to that sense of ego! Sometimes I am able to open to the groundlessness that occurs during this but mostly too infuriated to get that far.

    If anger comes up, clicking away really is the best option but I hear you on the itch to respond.

    Gassho
    Kokuu/Andy

    ps. I didn't see the jpg until just now and laughed greatly!
    Last edited by Kokuu; 01-29-2014 at 06:18 PM.

  4. #4
    Hello Chuck,

    the downside of the internet is that we all get to rattle off our opinions freely. It's maybe not such a good thing to be ever party to the thoughts of those we
    care about - and maybe those we don't care about

    I've found the more I take on board of the opinion of others the more anxious and defended I feel - because inside our heads we all have a tendency to think
    our opinions are correct and everyone else who differs is misguided, ignorant and downright silly.

    Some things are worth fighting for - most definitely - but most of what annoys us isn't worth getting upset about. I think it helps to form friendships with people who have the same value system - but I'm sure we all have friends and family members who we feel poles apart from in our views - but who we still love and care about.

    If a friend has been really 'vile' in a response to you - it may be that that person is not really a true friend - but it's surprising how vile we all can be in certain situations of anger or frustration - even towards those we love.

    Sadly lies and hatred are part of the human condition - using our energy in a constructive way to combat negative forces isn't easy. I think we have to take personal responsibility for choosing what we can truly fight for and where we can make a difference. The fight part of our brains likes to think we're twenty feet tall and can wage battle on every front, but in reality we are small and the average human being can only make a small difference.

    But of course - all those small efforts can add up to something pretty substantial.

    Perhaps sitting through our annoyances is the best response we can make - then if we still feel some action is necessary at least its coming more from a space of equanimity.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 01-29-2014 at 06:23 PM.

  5. #5
    This issue has concerned me in recent years and I've found avoidance the only way forward. Before posting on Facebook I would ask myself "What's my motives for posting this?", "What responses am I hoping to get?", "How will I feel if nobody responds?" "What if the responses are negative?". Generally I'd realise my ego was my motivation for posting and therefore wouldn't bother. Obviously there are times when you're congratulating someone for an achievement or birthday etc that's different but yeah I rather avoid posting on Facebook or Twitter etc.

    Gassho
    Gary
    Drinking tea and eating rice.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Thank you guys.

    Gassho,

    Chuck "Daijo"

  7. #7
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    This is one reason why I removed facebook.

    Gassho

    Shawn

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
    This is one reason why I removed facebook.

    Gassho

    Shawn
    No Facebook for me either. Cowards will attack hiding in the anonymity the web brings. Trolls will try to destroy dignity no matter what.

    I use G+ as a news reader mostly.

    I am in touch with friends and family through email. It's private and you get only the people who care about you

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  9. #9
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I deactivated the account for several months. But FB does have some positive aspects, at least for me. I guess the easiest approach for me is to delete comments instead of reacting, and if I find them incredibly offensive I'll just block the user.

    Gassho,

    Daijo

  10. #10
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    This issue has concerned me in recent years and I've found avoidance the only way forward. Before posting on Facebook I would ask myself "What's my motives for posting this?", "What responses am I hoping to get?", "How will I feel if nobody responds?" "What if the responses are negative?". Generally I'd realise my ego was my motivation for posting and therefore wouldn't bother. Obviously there are times when you're congratulating someone for an achievement or birthday etc that's different but yeah I rather avoid posting on Facebook or Twitter etc.

    Gassho
    Gary
    Gary,
    I think you hit the nail on the head. Our motivations often get us into trouble. That said....

    Gassho, Entai

    Entai (Bill)
    "Be kind - for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" - Plato

  11. #11
    It's really sad that there is so much anger and ignorance in the world. Especially against someone who tried to bring people together and help the oppressed.



    Kind regards. /\
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    Rich
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    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  12. #12
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Though there are many differences between communicating on the internet and communicating physically, there really is no difference when it comes to figuring out how to be friends gracefully with someone when their opinion is opposed to one's own. It can be hurtful and/ or confusing when someone I love is discovered to have an opinion wildly different from mine. I can't just delete them from my life. My family wants and expected me to have a Catholic wedding. Upon finding out that I wasn't planning to, they were very surprised and I think sad.

    Internet or physical, we must practice personal responsibility, grace, right speech, humor, respect, and in many ways, love.
    迎 Geika

  13. #13
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Tough things to deal with as I am no longer communicating with any of my extended family members due to their extreme intolerance to Buddhism, and anyone else who does not have fundamental Christian beliefs.

    I did a complete facebook clean-out a few months ago. Anyone who I had as a "friend" out of obligation only, or who used facebook to condescend others' beliefs I deleted off. It is so much more enjoyable now!

    I feel it is fine to express opposing viewpoints, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. However, I also think life is too short to fill it with people who treat you poorly simply because of differences of opinions.

    Gassho,
    Joyo






    I

  14. #14
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    I think much of the problem with this type of attitude is the lack of non-linguistic communication between people on Facebook, forums, etc. We manage to do very well here, I think, because we're more mindful of each other. But it's very easy, when you don't have someone opposite you, to get pushy and dismissive of others. I think many of those people, in a normal social situation, would act differently.

    However, the internet also allows people to avoid those who disagree, and I've seen many cases of what I would call extreme political opinions, notably on Facebook, that I wouldn't have encountered often 20 or more years ago.

    Personally, I find it very interesting to hear people who disagree with me: it's the only way I can challenge my own beliefs. But sometimes, even having that attitude just riles people up even more, as they think you're just toying with them.

    Gassho,

    Kir

  15. #15
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I think Facebook is very similar to road rage. When people are in their cars, they feel invincible, cursing at other drivers, giving them the finger, and so on. You never see this behavior among pedestrians. I mean, you wouldn't call someone a"%%%*** idiot" if they were taking up too much aisle in the grocery store. But if it were the parking lot and you were in cars, it's as if there are no social constraints. Facebook, or other internet forums seem to provide people with a similar sense of omnipotence.

  16. #16
    Hi Daijo,

    I can fully relate to how you feel.
    One of my relatives has very, very (very!) conservative opinions and of course she likes to share them at any possible opportunity. Very often she is full of hatred.
    I remember a few years ago at Christmas time that I got verbally attacked by her via FB, just because I wished everybody "Great Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". Just to give you an example...
    So we "clashed" several times on FB, but then I thought about it:

    1) Years ago she had not been that bitter. Somehow certain events in her life made her like this. Someone who is so angry actually suffers.
    2) It is almost impossible to change someone's strong believes by just discussing them via the internet where there is an "audience". People tend to stick to their opinions, because they consider it as a sign of weakness to change their mind. (Although actually the opposite is true - we must always be open!)
    3) I know she has also nice sides (almost everyone has).

    So I saw the futility in reacting by discussing. I chose to ignore certain types of FB entries, avoided talking with her about certain topics, and bit my tongue (quite often).
    This approach has been working for almost a year now.
    And if I feel the urge to write something, I take a deep breath and think "Is it really worth wasting my time with this? Life is short, it can be over any minute - how do I want to spend my time?"

    Actually the thought of time/life swiftly passing by can also be used in many other cases for our benefit. It's a strong motivator for me.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 01-30-2014 at 12:01 AM.
    no thing needs to be added

  17. #17
    Absolutely wonderful thread, and just what I needed to hear tonight.

    Before I found Treeleaf, I read and posted on some other Buddhist forums. I was totally stunned to get put down and made fun of. In reading in more depth, I found language and attitudes that just knocked my socks off. I can't even hint at what was said. I got disillusioned and depressed. Decided that if that was what Buddhism was, I wanted no part of it. Then Alex mentioned Treeleaf and I followed him.

    I know I am ultra-sensitive and fragile right now, but I've had a serious illness and it's taking everything I've got to work on recovering. I've got to concentrate on putting good stuff into my head. Treeleaf has never let me down. I come on here at night, in a down mood and I always find the exact thing I need to hear to get myself back up again. So THANK YOU, Treeleaf. Gassho, gassho, gassho.

    And thanks for this thread. I really needed to hear I'm not the only one getting offended (and wondering how to sit with it) in cyber-space.

    Gassho.

    Lee

  18. #18
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daijo View Post
    I think Facebook is very similar to road rage. When people are in their cars, they feel invincible, cursing at other drivers, giving them the finger, and so on. You never see this behavior among pedestrians. I mean, you wouldn't call someone a"%%%*** idiot" if they were taking up too much aisle in the grocery store. But if it were the parking lot and you were in cars, it's as if there are no social constraints. Facebook, or other internet forums seem to provide people with a similar sense of omnipotence.
    That's very true Daijo! Perhaps its because there are few consequences to acting like an ass online? Also, it can be a bit more intimidating being it the company of others and having these same discussions, even if those we're communicating with aren't intimidating in the slightest. This is a great thread by the way. Awesome responses.

    On and offline, it can be difficult dealing with someone who aggressively opposes our views on things. I remind myself, "Do not be attached to my views, See both sides of the issue." Many times, even if I disagree with someone I can still see how they'd think as they do. Many times I'll say as much. "It is and it isn't." Even that gets some people going. "Make a stand man! No, 'It might be this or it might be that,'" "I'm not saying it might be, I'm saying it is this and that at the same time." At that point many just write me off as a nutcase, which is fine with me. Try to remind myself to even take insults in stride; to remember that they are only insulting an idea, not "me."

    Find it's skillful just to avoid politics all together haha. In the rare case when I don't walk the zen razor between opposing views, I try to help ease the suffering of another, such as in racist, sexist, and otherwise un-compassionate views. In those cases (really in all cases) we can only speak skilfully and kindly, try to benefit the "other person," by showing how damaging their views are to themselves and others, and then smile, gassho and move on.

    Gassho,
    John

  19. #19
    I don't like to hurt and arguments can be painful. I just try to avoid them whenever I can. I am always right (and wrong at once) anyway.:-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  20. #20
    Yes, people have opinions and say all kinds of things in the world of politics. It is no different in any place, any time ... even back in old China and Japan. Speak if there is something in need of saying, but speak your peace gently, in soft language. To the rest, say "Is that so?", and move on.

    There is probably no convincing folks of one's opinions anyway, no matter. (That is a lesson it took me many years, family dinners with the uncles, and several Presidential elections, to learn).

    I saw another funny cartoon recently about how Buddhists argue ...



    Gassho, J

    PS - Don't talk about "religion" either ... even with other Buddhists! The above cartoon has some fact to it. Buddhist can get just as up in arms when their religious beliefs and views are challenged ... and stick a thin veneer of politeness on it. (Sometimes the politeness drops away, as I have found out over the years.) That is one reason our Forum works, I feel, due in part to one of the few "rules" we have around here :

    The only 'rule' on the Forum, besides "Just Sitting" Zazen each day, is to be kind to each other and mutually maintain “gentle speech” in all communication, even when voices disagree on hot issues. Perhaps more than anything, this allows a warm, welcoming atmosphere for new and old, where people can open up without fear.
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-30-2014 at 02:14 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Whenever I feel a conversation could lead to an argument I am usually honest. I say "I am sorry. I do not wish to argue. I like our conversations better. Lets talk about something else."

    And I try to always think about what I am going to say three times before I say it, write it or type it.

    Gassho
    Bobby

  22. #22
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    I've found this blog post very helpful for dealing with all the shit, trolling, and bad vibes on the internet, not to mention real life. Maybe you guys will be interested in it too.

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/...le-of-control/

    Gassho

    Jen
    The result is not the point; it is the effort to improve ourselves that is valuable. There is no end to this practice. --Shunryu Suzuki

  23. #23
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    Today, a Facebook friend put up a post about how letting 500 Syrian asylum seekers into the UK will mean less jobs and houses for British citizens and more crowded healthcare. I started to write a comment about how these people were fleeing atrocities but remembered this is someone currently going through a hard time on many fronts so chose to delete instead.
    This sounds like one of my family members and a family friend, both of whom I have watched deteriorate into very angry and hateful people due to a lack of employment. I have walked in their shoes before, and have had to remind myself that anger towards others is not going to solve my problems.

    Empathy seems to be the best way for me to understand the responses that others have towards differing situations. I put myself in "their shoes" the best that I can so I can attempt to feel it from their vantage point. I used to be a political blogger (yikes!), and the anger I was experiencing actually took a toll on my health. My blood pressure went way up and I was sick all the time. Since giving up the blog (almost as tough as when I quit smoking 12 years ago!), my health has improved and enabled me to live a life more meaningful than it was when it was controlled by the rants of myself and others. Just like the article Jen directed to, these were merely concerns, and not things I had control over.

    Gassho,
    Tim
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  24. #24
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Thank you all for this conversation. Each moment is every ounce of our practice and should be practiced diligently.

    Gassho,

    Daijo

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Speak if there is something in need of saying, but speak your peace gently, in soft language. To the rest, say "Is that so?", and move on.
    This has been a wonderful post and thank you all for your insightful views. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daijo View Post
    I mean, would this be wrong speech? Because this is sort of what I feel like saying....
    264457_650420711687123_1175823080_n.jpg
    I'm really glad I wasn't drinking anything when I clicked on this.

    More seriously, though, I understand where you're coming from, Daijo, both in terms of some of the "friends" one can accumulate on Facebook, and in general the tone of people who comment online. I'm an editorial page editor for a smallish newspaper, so I'm at the center of a maelstrom of opinions. And while it doesn't quite equate to what you're dealing with, maybe I can share something similar, and we can at least empathize together.

    One big debate in the news industry right now is how to handle those online comments, which are mainly anonymous. While anonymity can be a valuable tool that allows people to talk freely in a way that they're unable to for whatever reason, the downside is it allows people to talk freely. What depresses me is the universal level of vitriol that most online commenters spill so easily from behind that LCD screen. And I know that many who do probably have family, friends, are members of clubs and associations, go to church, have jobs, and are, in so many words, ordinary, law-abiding citizens who wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight. (Yes, I totally ripped off Jay Z's "99 problems..." right there.) It's disheartening. This is what people are like when they express their "true" selves, their egos, when the mask is off? As Oscar Wilde said so accurately: "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."

    Given the lowest denominator level of our national discourse -- and this relates to your friend on Facebook -- what they say and we hear publicly is bad enough. that people have no qualms sharing thoughts of the vilest kind when alone and safely unknown -- that's more than depressing. It's terrifying. I'm not sure what it's symptomatic of or, what's causing it, or how to fix it -- not that any of those things are possible. It's suffering on a massive scale.

    But you know what? I only have responsibility for my own actions, my own thoughts, my own practice in the zendo of the world. I can only cultivate my own light of compassion, my own realization of oneness. I can't do that for anyone else. The best I can do is acknowledge the feelings that arise in myself in reaction, sit with that feeling and let it be. And when these people try to engage me, I find silence, acceptance and then letting go is the most powerful response. That's easier said than done.
    Last edited by cgcumber; 02-01-2014 at 02:32 AM.

  27. #27
    Senior Member Daisho's Avatar
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    Shokai, much metta to Lillian and to you. When you told about her self imposed speech therapy and the request for peanut butter, I knew she was going into surgery with a strong spirit sprinkled with a sense of humor. I'm sitting for you both in a few minutes.
    Gassho,

    Daisho


    (Jack K.)

  28. #28
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    So many great responses. I thank you all.

    Daijo

  29. #29
    Senior Member Matt's Avatar
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    This thread has been helpful to me as well, as this is something I have struggled with. Gassho, Matt J

  30. #30
    Hello everybody. I switched off Facebook one year ago or so, but recently I came back to it. Discussion on Facebook are really a delicate matter, in my humble opinion.
    Facebook (but the same thing could be said for every other social network where people appear with their real names) is a weird place: if you discuss with a friend about which is the fastest car of the world and, for example, he says that you are not well informed about some new models, even your mother or the girl that you loved twenty years ago would now know his opinion about you.
    So we could call it 'Facebook Roshi'. We face every little refraction of our ego, each one living (in our opinion) behind the eyes of a different person of our life.
    And the same thing is valid when we 'attack' someone else... We are not telling a friend that she or he is not 'well informed', we are saying this thing to her or him in front of his family, friends, work colleagues... Hard times coming!

    Gassho.

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