In today’s digital world of Social Media the way we interact and learn about and from others, even in isolation, is through “following”. What does this signify? Can we really become part of a larger community?
I wrote in an earlier blog post about social media making us an inter-connected community, but following someone would also have us believe that we are also interested in something this other person has to express. Or we have an affinity for what that blogger or tweeter is promoting or living. Someone with a similar struggle to ours will be attractive to us. We might learn something useful in our own difficulties.
Following is then, in a sense, a desire to learn for someone else. In days of masters and disciples the master of a religion or philosophy had his followers and spent a great deal of time, perhaps years, teaching the disciples his ways so that they were prepared the best way possible to go out and teach others. This has happened all through the ages and continues today. If we in turn, learn something well enough, we might also be able to help others.
Many people around the world follow various religions and philosophies. Something that is attractive will keep people following that teaching. Sometimes societal or familial pressure will ensure conformity to these teachings. But more and more today these can be transcended in the virtual world of the Internet and the individual can make freer choices to follow or “un-follow” as they wish, what they desire. The Internet has made them free, in a sense.
We need, therefore, to be careful what is spread by each of us in this Free State, this Federal Republic of Inteligencia. What we write, re-work, re-send and re-tweet is spread far and wide and can have an intellectual, emotional and decisive avowal of ideas.
You and I may not realise the reach of our message at the time; but even one person can have a terrific influence on others. This Easter Sunday, Mother Angelica, the foundress of the Eternal Word Television Network, died at the convent and shrine she founded. We might then be amazed that a cloistered nun could have had such a far reaching and profound impact on the world. But she was not alone in this. Witness the work and life of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, St John of God, and many others.
We, you and me together, with all those we follow and who in turn follow us, can have a penetrating impact on our own sphere of life: family, friends, colleagues. Don’t waste an opportunity. Be brave, be generous, be kind and be effective.
“Prudence teaches us to behave prudently and wisely in everything that we have to do and think” ~ St John of God