Slivers …


Sliver - Morguefile.comI would like to tell you how I developed the following thoughts while deep in study of man’s ethical imperatives and decision-making processes, while considering weighty and erudite reflections on how we co-exist, or reviewing my notes for moral development from the work of Lawrence Kohlberg.  

I would like to do that, but the truth is that I was browsing videos on Facebook …

As I idly allowed myself to be distracted by the myriad and wonderfully diverse mini-movies that proliferate on this and other social networks, I was struck by several thoughts:

I AM NOT ALONE:

I share my distractibility with many other people, based on the number of views that many of these little clips receive.  Apparently many people spend some time doing exactly what I was doing … watching short, usually non-professional, and awkward videos.

We like our entertainment and distractions bite-sized … easy to digest and with minimal useful background or context.

THE WORLD IS FASCINATED WITH MANY DIFFERENT THINGS:  

I saw soldiers reunited with families, cute kittens by the bushel, and breath-taking human behavior and near accidents, weather phenomena, and people being kind to other people in unusual situations and places.   One thing that particularly disturbs  me how popular these videos showing people being generous or nice to another human being are.   

Let me explain …

A person being generous or kind should be the rule and not the exception, a cause for fascination or viewed as an extraordinary event, even as my logical mind tells me that people are not always generous or kind to each other. 

It is a shame that many of us feel the need to share these occurrences, trying to spread the word that a better way exists.  Wish we did not have to do so, because being a caring human being was so “ordinary”. 

“GOING VIRAL” IS NOT NECESSARILY A GOOD THING:  

A great danger exists in this post-modern world, where most of the world has access to whatever someone had the fortune to record and share.

I will not further cause pain to those involved by identifying or linking to the videos that caught them being human in some very embarrassing and unattractive ways.  Let me just say that even I have sometimes misjudged the distance, been caught unawares, done something silly, stupid, or dangerous, and even had my body betray my sense of decorum.

Watching someone else suffer embarrassment or discomfort is apparently a fascination for many, judging by the popularity of some videos showing exactly that.

THE CRITICAL POINT:  Our penchant for instant and visual stimulation carries with it the risk that we will only see the person in this one moment in time, and not view them in the fullness of their selves.

We do not see the lifetime of struggle, work, learning, family, and just living that are part of who this person is.  We only see a moment captured for apparent eternity, and every share increases the pain of that person who is now reduced to a few seconds of entertainment for others.

Consider for a moment if you were caught on video … at your worst or even just at an off-moment.   Does this represent your sum and worth?

A FURTHER REALITY:   We often digest our news in slivers too …

Ferguson, Missouri is an example, not because it is unique, but simply because I know the area well.

The visual images shared during the height of the protests around issues of racial equality, economic opportunities, culture, and the relationships between law enforcement and the community captured moments, in much the same way those YouTube videos show us the thinnest of slices of someone’s existence.

…. and we reflect, consider, judge, and decide based on those slender slivers.

Now I know I draw with a broad brush and that many good and beneficial uses exist within the social networking and video world.   However, as leaders and people who would help others become leaders, I would like us to consider this a little more carefully.

BOTTOM LINE REFLECTIONS:

What are you making decisions about, based on a sliver of information?

How might you make these decisions differently and more effectively?

How can you influence others to consider things more holistically?

Just wondering aloud as I search for interesting and fun videos in the Heartland ….

John

Image:  Morguefile.com

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