On July 8, 2017, I picked up my copy of The Daily Stoic to read that days short reflection. It included the following quote from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius:
“Enough of this miserable, whining life. Stop monkeying around! Why are you troubled? What’s new here? What’s so confounding? The one responsible? Take a good look. Or just the matter itself? Then look at that. There’s nothing else to look at. And as far as the gods go, by now you could try being more straightforward and kind. It’s the same, whether you’ve examined these things for a hundred years, or only three.”
This passage is a good reminder that social media has been both a blessing and a curse in our daily lives. It’s a blessing because it allows us to stay better connected to friends and family, and it also provides elected representatives with a more efficient medium to communicate directly to their constituents. But at the same time it’s a curse, because it provides yet another forum for far too many to whine, criticize, and compare themselves to everyone else.
Complaining is easy. Solving problems is hard. And social media has become the place where folks can mistake the act of complaining for actually doing something to better the situation.
At some point in the last year or so, I said “enough.” A big part of my job is dealing with social media, so I can’t totally disconnect - but I’ve done the next best thing: I’ve deleted those on my personal social media channels who filled up my timeline with complaints. I don’t want to expose myself to their daily negativity about how bad they think things are. Did you ever notice that the worst offenders never offer any solutions to fix the problems they are identifying? Complaining has become the norm, and I simply refuse to participate. In my own life I’ve made a conscious choice to, quoting from the lyrics of an old song, “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”
It has worked. I’ve successfully banished most of the complainers from my social media feeds, and I feel less stress because of it. And in my attempts to focus on the positive, I’ve noticed other additional benefits; most notably, I realized that in the past I spent way too much time envying other people when their hard work led to good things for them. This flaw, too, I’ve taken steps to eliminate.
Ultimately, the reality is, and has always been, that we all will experience problems and challenges during every stage of our life. Growth happens when we take responsibility and deal with those problems; it is so much more productive and healthy to work on the steps we can take to make improvements, than it is to carp online to our social media “friends.”