What’s in your feed?

“Feed” as a noun is so bovine. If you’re on Facebook (very few people aren’t), then you’re digesting “feed” made up of other people’s minutiae, and some news and infotainment mixed in.

What does your “feed” consist of? Negative rants, or positive warmth? Bad news, or good? Information, or mutant slop? Is it commercial or organic? And, the big question,

Are you in control of it?

When you scroll down your “timeline” or browse your “feed,” do you ever hide “friends” who are consistently complaining, talking about lunch, or dissing their own families? Do you use the filters available to you (in addition to closable eyelids and yankable power cords) to purify the stream of messages you’re receiving?

If you know me at all, you know that I do. On Facebook, you can hide a person’s updates without unfriending them, if you want to clear their clutter out of your space. I watch TV shows almost exclusively from saved files, in order to skip the commercials; when I must watch live, I mute them. I use noise isolating earbuds so that I don’t have to turn my music up loud to enjoy it, and to filter out the profanity and insanity and ear-busting decibels of the shocking noises of the city—I’ve lived here 15 years, and it’s not like I’m not accustomed to them, I’ve just chosen to improve the quality of the soundtrack that scores my life. This in turn improves my enjoyment of life in the now, and preserves my hearing so I’ll enjoy a better quality of experience later in life, too. Unfortunately, we can’t close our ears the way we can close our eyes. So how do we protect them?

A friend once told me a Jewish anecdote that moralized against gossip (in Hebrew, lashon ha rah). There are three questions you can ask to test whether it’s lashon ha rah: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it useful? and 3) Is it good?

If what you’re about to say, or what someone is saying to your ears, does not meet all three criteria, then you might want to question whether it really needs to be said (or heard) at all.  “Useful” can mean lifesaving. “Good” can mean emanating from good intentions, and probably leading to more good.

A friend of mine has terrible coworkers who tell her that the boss is dissatisfied, her job’s hanging in the balance, or vaguely that she’s ruffled some feathers, making her insecure and paranoid. That is lashon ha rah. They act as if they have her best interests at heart, but how can they? They’re slaves to their instinct to survive in a competitive environment by weakening the other players, instead of combining strengths and collaborating.

When and how will this ever change?

Just remember, there is no script. There are no lines—well, most are drawn in paint or ink or precepts—and, really, you can do whatever you want. I’m not saying there aren’t consequences, but nine times out of ten, the person who says, “My hands are tied,” is wrong, and there is a way, and usually nothing physical stopping us from defying the status quo—only our figments.

This is one reason I love Latin America. There is lawlessness about it, or a sense of laissez faire. Twice—or maybe three times—I have actually jumped off a moving bus. Once, because I chickened out of going north of Matagalpa solo (the bloke who was meant to accompany me stood me up, and I boarded the bus anyway, but as we climbed higher and higher into the cloud forest, I missed my temporary home. They didn’t want to stop the bus, so I jumped out of the open door. They slowed so I could, but they did not stop. Later I attempted the same route, alone and determined, and made it to Jinotega. I spent the night freezing my arse off in a roach motel after eating dinner with the bus driver…)

The second time, I was tooling around Oaxaca on the “chicken bus” and caught a glimpse of a neighborhood covered end to end in the most elaborate graffiti. I had to photograph it. I jumped off the bus. The results are some of the best photography I’ve ever taken. This set of pictures doesn’t do the place justice, but I’ll show you anyway: MEXICAN GRAFFITI

P.S. The buses don’t move that fast in Latin America, loaded with more passengers, more potatoes, and more chickens than regulations would allow here. Back to what I was saying, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are treated more loosely there. People don’t wait for the government to grant favors—it’s blatantly corrupt; they don’t wait for work to bring happiness—it’s work; they don’t hope for a lottery to grant them a windfall. But they do ride with the wind in their hair, and drink and cackle loudly and wake up bruised from wild benders they can’t remember, and spend lots of time with their extended families. Life seems simpler with fewer choices. In the big cities, people are more sophisticated, but as it gets more rural, ambition lowers in proportion to contentedness with enough food, enough family, and enough occupation to fill the days.

Today, can you do one thing to filter out negative and amplify positive messages that are streaming in your “feed”?

A chicken pokes its head out of a cardboard box. Mercado Abastos, Oaxaca Mexico

About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
This entry was posted in Psychology, social networking, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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