I think this goes in this forum because it has to do with "psychology," but if I'm wrong sorry, please move.
I was thinking about the psychology of interacting with people in forums like ATS and other ones, and I realized there is a huge "dehumanizing" effect
going on. Basically what happens is it is easy to treat other people online in any number of ways: you can play mind games, ego games, troll games,
power games, and there is usually not much consequence for you. But there might be for the other person,
which is the ugly side people don't
usually want to talk about.
Part of the problem is you don't know. You don't know who is telling the truth, who is telling almost-truths or half-truths, and who is outright
lying. And in addition to the truth/lie problem, there is another whole whole emotional tone
issue: It's easy to act out, to go to extremes, to
have a tantrum or act infantile.
I think immersing yourself endlessly in these environments can be unhealthy and lead to a blunting of humanity, a kind of sociopathic numbing. But I
am also an optimist (and a lover of messageboards, ATS and otherwise) so to put a more positive spin on things, I think we can
traits in ourselves by taking time to remember
that you are interacting with real humans, real flesh and blood people.
To this end, each day before I log on I have been trying the following visualization exercise:
1) I sit calmly for a few minutes, do some slow breathing, and say some prayers (this is in accord with my faith, but you can omit or alter this step
as serves your own beliefs).
2) I next visualize a single individual as a specific person. I go over some of the things in my mind I read the day previously that I liked, or
hated, or was moved by, or found somehow attention-getting, and choose one. Could be either positive or negative. Then I try to imagine the kind of
person who might have written it. Not what they look like, or the specifics of their lives like jobs or clothes or whatever, but the inner forces that
might have been acting on them to make them post what they did. I try to imagine them as a complex person, simultaneously full of contradictions --
good qualities and bad, unresolved conflict, expertise in one area and lack in another. Maybe I try to imagine what pains they have or where their
life journey took them, or if they posted a specifc story from their lives I think about that. I think this is a real person who posted this, even if
what they said isn't true, somebody still felt that this should be communicated. Why? I spend a little time trying to understand.
3) I visualize that one person at a computer, connected to mine by fibers passing energy back and forth. Then I expand the vision by imagining ten
people connected. Then 100, then a 1000 (if I can manage this..I clump them into mental groups and try to view them from above, rising in height of
vantage with every shift in order-of-magnitude). I remind myself that every one of these people is a complex indivdual also full of the same
contradictions and struggles. I imagine this living, pulsing network cycling light and energy among its nodes (individual users). I am also part of
this network, no better and no worse than others.
4) I then begin to pump with my heart a visualized honey-golden healing light that gushes through my fingers, is absorved by the keys, and is spread
outwards by the cables, wires, and lines leading out of my computer. The honey-golden healing light spreads across the internet. It comes shining with
a warm, pleasant glow through other people's monitors as they read what I have written and reply. The golden liquid-light bathes their faces with a
healing, relaxing warmth, soothing tensions and undoing knots and kinks, bringing them peace and happiness.
5) I expand the light in my mind in both intensity and range. It changes from honey-golden to shining white, bleeding out of the lines and cables and
connecting all the people, filling all the gaps. Fade to pure white. I rest in pure white for a few moments, then modulate my consciousness back to
6) I now open my eyes and am ready to interact with people on the internet as real people, attempting insofar as is possible to respect their
individuality, complexity, and uniqueness.
edit on 4-6-2011 by Partygirl because: (no reason given)