Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer, World Traveller
Responsibility. Accountability. Integrity. Ethics. Character. These traits used to define us as human beings (and as individuals). I don’t think we have enough in our lives to keep us productively active anymore. Yes, we’re all busy, but doing what? In my travels I come across many indigenous Peoples (and non-indigenous Peoples) just trying to sustain life. They don’t have the time, or the resources, to play around on social media or watch reality TV. They’re way too busy feeding and clothing themselves.
I’m not one who’s prone to quoting from the Christian Bible, but there are lessons to be learned from any wisdom tradition if you’re open to it. Here’s a quote I find particularly apropos to the subject at hand: Proverbs 16:27 – Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece. Too much unproductive time equals idle hands and lips. I do not consider time spent with social media, smartphones, or reality TV to be productive time (quite the contrary).
I think it’s time we all take stock of our individual situations (and our collective society), re-evaluate our life’s direction, take responsibility for our actions, and hold ourselves strictly accountable for the consequences of those actions. I’m a huge critic of social media, because it (typically) panders to our basest instincts and behaviors, and promotes, perpetuates, and justifies a victim mentality. Poor me, life is so unfair. If you don’t like your plight in life THEN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Whining, blaming, and shirking personal responsibility does absolutely nothing to better your life. We all make mistakes, make bad decisions, have regrets. Be honest with yourself and own up to them. Right your wrongs, don’t blame others (or fate) for your perceived misfortunes. You can’t save the world, but maybe (just maybe) you can improve your little piece of it. One big improvement is to not put yourself at the center of everything; contrary to popular belief you are not the center of the universe.
Another truism, from another wisdom tradition, this time Buddhist: Everyone experiences pain in their life, but suffering is optional. We can’t get through this life untouched by pain (physical, emotional, psychological), but holding onto it is our choice (and our choice alone). We have to make the conscious and determined decision to take control of our life, and to live it in a way that does less harm (both to ourselves and to others).
Instead of spending your time mired in the drama (and silliness) of social media, engaging in meaningless conversations (and idle gossip) on your smartphone, or de-sensitizing yourself with reality TV, why don’t you do something productive: make (create) something, grow something, help someone, learn something, experience something, cultivate friendships and relationships, teach, read a book, listen to good music, experience the world around you.