Listening is a core muscle for thriving online

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
~Rachel Naomi Remen

Listening and asking for clarification is hugely important in the social networks. People are finding their voice in these networks, often for the first time. People are writing themselves into being in these networks. This requires frequent wisdom and compassion.

Yesterday, I encountered the reality of this needed compassion in a new way: I saw a variety of conversations that convinced me humanity is increasingly thinking as one mind. The weave of personal comments in threads with mass media news with music and images shared by individuals revealed to me the incredible way we have merged into a collective dance. Remember at high school dances when everyone danced on their own and then would merge into a line or a circle and then disperse again into couples and smaller groups? I watched this in real-time yesterday online. Truly amazing diversity woven into one shape, one circle, one global community – the Internet.

For years, I’ve predicted that a single tweet or FB post or YouTube video or Instagram photo would sweep the globe and fundamentally shift humans. Now I see that this is happening regularly. Individuals are offering up their thoughts in myriad networks via various mediums (text, image, video, music) and, in some cases, all of humanity circles around a particular message. An individual can watch a trend using sophisticated social media monitoring tools and jump in early on an emerging meme. He/she can capitalize on this meme and lead it, albeit with extreme aplomb since these memes are “thought-animals” that have a life of their own. The entrance of a meme into a culture, as many know, can significantly alter the individuals in that culture.

I think we have an opportunity to consciously sequence a series of memes in order to alter global consciousness. We have an opportunity to significantly change the way individuals relate to one another through an emphasis on kindness, goodness and empathy. One opportunity humans have online is simply to listen to others. And so we are all, in a way, sitting down in impromptu circles around specific posts and hearing each other out on that issue in the post. And often the issue morphs as participants work out their feelings and past issues. These expressions indicate a swiftly evolving conversation headed towards, we hope, understanding and unity on a global level.

Again, people are writing themselves into being in these networks. This requires frequent wisdom and compassion.

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