On Kindness, Social Media and Self-identity

All actions and thoughts cast a long karmic shadow…

Our own natural cognitive or creative emotional flow and adaptive self-expression can be catastrophically inhibited by a hyper-awareness of what we think that other people might think of us. That is the enigma of social media platforms – in particular Instagram – for which a distributed cultural and individuated channel of self-representational identity construction can become a constant burden and (perceived, if not actual) public trial of preemptive self-criticism and introspective self-surveillance, even before any images or life events are shared. This kind of insecurity is not just of individuals – entire cultures and (arguably) civilisations can experience a strange and unsettling tension between stage-fright and an endemic psychological drive to identity construction.

This image (above) is my shadow from a couple of days ago, perhaps not the only material consequence of my existence in this world but it is at least something, a record of my passing through – the mark that says “I was here, if only for a while…” and we are all, ultimately, just passing through as transient tourists on this planet. I guess we can all only hope that the good we leave behind in our wake outweighs whatever unintentional harm we may have caused. I strive for happiness and selfless compassion, not always successfully, but most importantly of all – in a world so densely over-populated with cruelty and oppression – I strive to never forget that kindness is the most important quality anyone can ever cultivate.

I wonder how we might measure kindness through the technologically-mediated channels of contemporary self-expression. Certainly not through advertising revenue or the accumulation of “likes”.

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