It seems like social media these days is all consumed over the latest something—either ISIS, Syrian refugees, gay marriage, or the design on Starbucks coffee cups—to the point of obsessiveness. Television, radio, and Facebook are bombarded with heated opinions on topics that have significant consequences, and others that have no consequence at all. Regardless of the topic, media has been the cause of one important thing—driving people to react, one way or another. But what is the effect of this reaction to your soul? We can choose our reaction, but we cannot choose the consequences on our physical, mental and spiritual state that comes as a result of this reaction.
Consume, criticize, curse, or create—the choice is yours.
A motivational speaker, Kary Oberbrunner, gave an example the other day during a conference call where he spoke about how to handle the news of the day. He said we have a choice. We can be consumers—people who live for the latest news and gossip, letting it run our lives, or more accurately, consume us. Or we can criticize—sound off on everything going on, engaging in arguments on social media to the point of interfering with our jobs and interrupting family life. Or we could curse the situations of the world—allowing the culture around us to eat away at our soul and leave us empty. He has chosen none of these—his choice is to create—to rise above the ills of society and create something inspiring for people to look to, to create something beautiful that gives people hope, to tap into the divinity within his soul so as to point others toward the divinity within themselves. He chooses to create.
This man is not LDS, but he obviously has a firm anchor in the Savior Jesus Christ. Like many people out there, he understands his relationship with God and he is on fire about getting the message across. God lives, we are His children, and there is a plan out there for each of us to follow. I associate with many non-LDS people in life, and I’ve found the light of Christ burns so brightly in the Christian community, I know Christ himself must cry tears of joy in seeing such love and devotion rise above the hate and divisiveness of the world.
When you consume, it consumes you. I’ve been a consumer of culture. I’ve been a news junkie where I’ve had the television or radio on 24-7, or I’ve found myself obsessing over my Facebook news feed. I have friends that do this very thing. Sadly, I’ve seen the ill effects of being this kind of consumer—like consuming anything in mass quantity it isn’t good for your health. Imagine indulging in your favorite food. If it is consumed beyond what the body needs, the natural result will be adverse to the body. This is common sense to most of us when it comes to nutrition, but it applies equally, if not more so, when consuming media. Be informed, but don’t let it consume you.
When you criticize, it divides you. I have wonderful friends who I love dearly—some have the same political and religious beliefs as I do, while others have completely opposite views on politics and religion. I see these friends often getting drawn into heated discussions on Facebook about whatever cause they are standing for. What is worse, I see perfectly lovely people becoming vicious and hurtful to each other, when they would otherwise get along outside of the venue of social media. It is frightening to watch as I actually fear they could cause harm to each other if the same arguments were face-to-face. Is this what we want to have happen to our soul? Do we want to behave one way in person and be completely opposite over the internet? Criticizing to the point of spewing hateful rhetoric is dangerous to our soul, in any setting. If you’ve found yourself in this position, take a step back take a deep breath, and rethink what this does to your own countenance.
When you curse—it imprisons you. I’ve also seen people on social media shake their fist at God over things they don’t agree with. Some do it to spread their own venom against God’s plan while others take the next step and walk away from covenants they’ve made to their Maker. Cursing God can do only one thing to your relationship with Him—it separates you from Him and brings you to a state of bondage with the adversary. This is so very dangerous, not only to your eternal soul but to those who listen to you, those who look up to you, and those who follow your example. It has the effect of turning more souls away from the loving God they should be reaching toward. If you’ve found yourself in this position, take a step back, take a deep breath, and rethink what this does to your eternal reward.
The above choices lead to implosion of the soul, destruction of the spirit. But creation is a very different matter. Creation builds strength of character, it aligns our spirit with our Father in Heaven, and it testifies of the eternal nature of our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Creator of all that is. Creation was the answer in the beginning, and it is the answer still today.
When you create, it aligns you with Christ, our Savior. Creation is part of the eternal plan. Jesus Christ was the creator of our world, and his example and sacrifice allows us to live again and to be a part of the creation process. Creating life, creating art, creating something more positive and productive—this is the secret to God’s eternal plan.
When you create, it allows your light to shine. Turning a conversation around for good brings light. Empathizing with others who disagree with you helps you to understand the other side and creates an atmosphere of trust. Finding a positive way to express your feelings enlightens others to new ways of thinking. I recently saw a musical on Broadway, Allegiance, about a Japanese-American family who was imprisoned in the internment camps during WWII.
The creator of this play, George Takei, had survived the internment as a five year old child. It was his lifelong dream to tell the story of this era in a way that would make a difference. At the age of seventy-eight, he saw this dream finally come alive as a Broadway musical. He says he was never bitter about what had happened to his family and to 120,000 Japanese-Americans from 1942-1945. Instead he found a way to create something beautiful out of something so terrible, in the hopes that nothing like this would ever happen again.
When you create, it shows the world a better way. It shows the world you will not be caught in the fury of the moment, rather you will take the time to internalize the situation and find a way to express something positive for others to see, to emulate, and to help them find the light within themselves.
When you create, it means you take a stand with the Creator himself. It means you will not turn your back on the one being who has shown you the way to eternal life—Jesus Christ. It means you will be a part of the solution, not the problem. It means you will be a valiant servant of the Lord.
Resist the temptation to consume, criticize, and curse. Rather, create. Create a moment of peace. Create a movement upward. Create a pathway home.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.