The following poem was inspired by the growing mass of voices on Twitter. I asked myself, what is the essence of the message behind the words. What is it we want people to hear. Included in this, is my own voice. This is what I saw…
Can you see me?
Can you help me?
Can you feel my pain?
Can you make it stop?
Can I live here?
Can I survive my life?
Can you save me?
Can I save my world?
Is there space for me?
Do my feet make a mark, on the land below?
Can you hear me?
Our my views my own?
Do we think the same?
Is my mind the same as yours?
Where do I belong?
Is anyone like me here, in the Universe above?
Where am I?
Am I real?
Do I exist?
I ventured back onto Twitter this month. Rather than the odd post of “Hey Twitterverse. Check out my work! Hashtag hashtag” I started to engage searching for the magical formula of 21st century – multiple likes, retweets and vast swathes of followers – because that’s what its about right?
A few weeks later I felt frustrated, depleted, unheard and unworthy. Even back in the early days of Twitter it was like shouting into the wind. Now it’s like shouting into a tornado. Such is the speed of change in the feed.
Taking a moment of reflection I connected with those feelings. What did they want? What were they not getting?
On some level there was a need for praise and validation. Hardly a surprise for an former Type A person who was always looking for a “well done” from Daddy. This need had been reinforced from childhood onwards for the pursuit of A grades at school and Excellent in work performance appraisals therefore why would that be any different for Twitter. My tweets needed to A+ and be praised by all. However due to spending considerable years working on my personal and social development I recognised this as “programming” and an infant need not yet reconciled.
But behind this programming was something else. Something that was barely heard but certainly underlying.
Connection. The desire to be heard by someone who understood what I was saying. The desire to be seen by someone who could see through to my core.
That was it. That was the experience I was looking for. This was was my magical formula for 21st century connection. To reach my hand across the virtual world and find another.
Recently I discovered the Twitter community of writers on #writingcommunity. We started to expIore how to connect with each other. One person in particular had tweeted and received no response. In reply she wrote how invisible she felt. I heard her. I was her! I wrote back and said
“you are visible”
It triggered me into remembering a piece of wisdom about the impact of active listening:
the two most powerful things you can say to someone are
“I hear you”
“I see you”
Our virtual world has become a tornado of information, of ideas, of the expression of raw emotions, of judgement, of fear, or hope, of every human experience and voices are being lost.
More than that the loudest voices are being amplified through algorithms designed on standard assumptions of more is better. Being heard is still based on popularity such as fame or infamy and if you don’t have that you can buy your way to being either or both. For the rest of us the subtle message is clear
“Follow the few, accept their view”
So we either keep going shouting into the tornado, conform to find the right number of likes to stroke our egos or give up and become resigned to being a voice unheard.
What if we turned this around? What if those unheard voices were amplified? Those with low impressions, little or no likes, and no engagement. What would we see? What could we learn? What are we missing?
Palatable to our values or not, all of us deserve to be heard and a social platform like Twitter could lead the way. How this could be achieved is another question which I cannot answer. I want to start with the what if and challenge our own emotional programming, not the programming of Twitter itself. Sometimes asking the questions is enough.
In the meantime if you are part of a large hashtag community or viewing a trend take time to connect with one of those voices with no likes. Show them that you are listening, that their voice is now heard.
The impact of that could be immeasurable.