Albert Einstein was referring to matter when he said that our separation from one another is an optical illsion, but his statement applies to so much more than atoms. According to social anthropologists who track this sort of thing, our sense of self has been changing for years, becoming more changeable, less centralized and more multidimensional.
Yet certainly Einstein or these scientists could not have foreseen the social media tools that have done so much lately to push this change along. And I doubt they would have an easy time embracing a tool called Twitter but I think they would “get it.” To be honest, the name itself is a roadblock for anyone at first, accompanied by the disbelief that anyone would care what they had for breakfast.
And yet, I’ve found a certain gestalt of humanity as I log on and watch ideas, thoughts and links pour in through the columns of Tweetdeck (a tool used to organizeTwitter posts). And I’m not alone. In last week’s Time magazine cover story, Steve Johnson put my feelings into wordswhen he wrote: “Twitter turns out to have an unsuspected depth … an ambient awareness…The social warmth of all those stray details shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
And here’s the kicker. In addition to the information and people I found there, Twitter opened up the real world for me. I began relating to people as if we were on Twitter. At the market one day a woman asked me what brand of bacon I likedand the random exchange seemed so normal (trust me, for Los Angeles, it’s not) that I knewTwitter had changed me to trust that she really DID want to know. Our conversation started at bacon and expanded to a brief exchange of histories that gave us both a glimpse into one another’s live.
As our sense of self decentralizes through small shifts in perception such as this, our view of others changes too. If we hold the mirror of compassion up, rather than a wall of obstacles, it becomes easier to see our own faults and greatnesses reflected in one another. Similarily, yet on a far larger scale, the spiritualist Marianne Williamson wrote, “The holiest of places are those where ancient hatred has given way to love.”
That can apply to our hearts and minds as we open them to reshape the most important tool we have in our social media arsenal — ourselves.
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