I’ve been on Twitter having conversations with people
about this whole “Bagel Boss” incident. If you don’t know what it is, simply, a
man had a complete freak breakdown in a bagel shop, someone recorded it and
posted it on Twitter and the Twitter-verse did it’s thing and mocked him, bullied
him further and… well it just went down the rabbit hole from there…
Now, in all fairness, he did freak out in a public place. Regardless of how it started, he screamed about how he had a difficult time dating because he’s short and he seemed hell-bent on saying how “all women” were the same and mean. He thought the women there were secretly hating on him, though they did seem to be just going about their business.
I watched it and winced the entire time. At one point,
someone – maybe a manager – tackled him to the ground. I’m no lawyer or law enforcement, but it seemed
appropriate. He was full of rage and pretty explosive. But what happened next, is difficult to wrap
my head around.
Someone recorded it, of course, and posted it on Twitter.
And then Twitter went to town mocking him, bullying him – making fun of
him. I called a few people out – people I actually respect on Twitter for
reposting the recording and they diligently justified, without skipping a beat,
why they thought it was fine to repost it, mock and bully him.
Here’s the point I’ve been making all night: when someone
gets a bunch of guns and walks into a school and kills people — we’re all stunned.
We’re saddened and “tweeting” for something more than “thoughts and prayers” to
be done. By then though, it’s too late.
Mental Illness always comes up.
“Why didn’t anyone help him?”
“How could no-one have noticed he was so upset?”
The Twitter-verse is then filled with all the compassionate people who would have known if it was their neighbor, their family member, if their friend was in trouble.
But, here in this moment, in full display is clearly a
man in pain. He’s suffering. And what do
all the people in the store and everyone online do? Bully him further.
Surely, he was out-of-line and absolutely inappropriate. He did get kicked out of the store and
rightfully so. But what happens when this
man, clearly distraught goes home and sees he’s being mocked on Twitter? What
happens when a fragile human being who clearly hasn’t dealt with some issues
notices his own outburst on his Twitter feed and reads what everyone is saying?
We’ve lost our ability to be compassionate. More importantly, we’ve lost our ability to
connect the dots. Someone in that much
pain, is about to burst. Clearly he’s
calling out for help. Instead of
instigating the situation, wouldn’t it have been amazing if someone had offered
him some help instead? A bit of kindness.
Now, I’m not saying everyone who has an outburst is going
to go grab a gun and kill people – but that’s kind of irrelevant, isn’t it? I
mean we don’t really ever understand why people do these things – but regardless,
shouldn’t we be better people? Shouldn’t
our humanity keep us from harming someone else even further? Is there really some sort of joy in watching
someone in so much pain?
I think what I’m most upset about this evening, is all
the people who replied to me being upset that I called them out on their own behavior. Instead of just admitting they might have
made a mistake, they then tried to make it about how he deserved to be mocked
for acting so badly. They found ways to
justify their bullying. It was sad actually.
I believe that our true character, the true test of who
we are is not measured when things are going perfectly well. It doesn’t matter that you have compassion
AFTER a massacre – that’s expected. In tragedy, it is expected that people will
come together and help each other. That’s how most humans behave, that’s how most
humans survive. But the true test of who we are is really measured when things are
hard. How do we behave when it’s not
easy? Do we show courage when no one is
looking? Can we see pain and react
accordingly even when everyone else is bullying? Can we stop being part of the mob-mentality? Can we even see it happening?
I hope that guy figures it out. My prayer, my wish for
him tonight is that he has a loving family or great friends that saw what
happened online and intervened to walk him through.
I just hope he’s not alone.
And for people on Twitter and social media in general – I
pray that we do better – and that we err on the side of compassion. That we
find a way to be better than we used to be.
Enjoy the podcast, or read below. Either way, I hope you enjoy it a bit…
I honestly don’t know where along the way people started equating being grateful and writing in “gratitude journals” as being something you practiced or did in hopes of getting “abundance”.
Gratefulness or being grateful has nothing to do with getting any sort of “reward”. If you write in a gratitude journal every day about being grateful you get absolutely nothing but clarity about what you’re grateful for. It would be analogous to writing an “honesty journal” every day. Being honest is part of what we can do — it’s an “IS-NESS” and it doesn’t come with a reward of abundance – being honest, like being grateful IS its own reward. It is part of who we naturally can choose to be as human beings.
It drives me insane when I hear gratitude being linked to abundance or any other reward-esque thing. And let’s be honest: what does abundance mean anyways? Surely we all want to believe that abundance is some intangible greatness that we’ll get if we keep writing them journals and praying on it and such, but at the end of the day, don’t we all just want to be able to pay our bills, make a living, keep from illness and despair and have joy more times than not? Well, spiritual-esque preachers and the like will have you believing that it’s because you’re not grateful enough. And how would you know?
Now before I get slammed by a bunch of angry spiritual folk, let me say a few things, I believe in God. I believe in being grateful and I actually believe in this mystical abundance – the difference is, I don’t link the two. There is NO quid pro quo. You do not need to be grateful every day to have this elusive abundance that has no real definition. I mean, honestly, how many people do you know that are NOT grateful for anything and yet are swimming in material abundance? And in this case, yes, I’m equating abundance with wealth – but I can also ask you the same question the other way: how many people do you know who are not as grateful as you are about anything and seem to be living in spiritual abundance even if it feels like a façade?
Surely these “gurus” from all sectors of the spiritual and not so spiritual realm are trying to motivate and inspire. My problem is they don’t really explain the link, they don’t define the term “abundance” and they leave just enough out to let the flock interpret meaning and keep you coming back for more.
Being grateful, just like being happy, is just part of being human. Sometimes you see a rainbow and you’re grateful. You see a baby born, grateful. You get a bonus, grateful. You break your arm and realize how much you really use it, grateful. Gratefulness is the outcome of what has already happened. Gratefulness is what already IS. You don’t need to remind yourself and write about it daily and it is something you should do and BE because you’re human. You get nothing in return for being a good human except… you know, being a good human! But people have convinced us that if we walk around in gratitude all day long and appreciate the things you have that somehow magically you won’t still want more – that you’ll be happy with what you have and that appreciating what’s in-front of you will make you not crave anything else. You’ll be content. Really?
We are human beings. And the magnificent thing about the human spirit is that we always want more. It’s what got us to the moon, it’s what makes us solve mysteries, cure disease or climb mountains. It’s what makes us create iPhones or damns. We’re not a complacent species to begin with. There is nothing wrong with wanting or craving more – and you don’t have to beg for it or prove how grateful you are – one has nothing to do with the other.
But hey, if you do want to get something in return for your efforts, I do have a solution. And the best part is, you don’t need to write in a journal or spend any money at all, unless you choose to. And I promise you – if you work on this, you will get a reward that is so profound, you’ll be angry you didn’t start it sooner! It’s not this elusive “abundance” that all the gurus and life coaches seem to spew, but it’s better – and it’s usually provides immediate gratification! Ready?
Every day, wake up and work on being compassionate. Do a better job of having empathy for your fellow human beings. And you can do this everywhere. Have an abundance of understanding and love for your fellow neighbor even if you don’t agree with them. For example, you can be driving in your car and when someone needs to get into your lane – throw them a smile and wave them on. Most times you’ll get an immediate feeling of joy for doing such a simple act of kindness. Help someone at work who you know is struggling. Give a homeless person a smile instead of avoiding them or cursing them under your breath. Work on those types of things and I promise you, you’ll get so much more in return.
Being a compassionate person, working on being sympathetic and loving is a far greater use of your valuable time than continuously writing in your gratitude journals about all the stuff you’re so grateful for. It kinda seems a bit self-absorbed and a bit silly when you think of it.
But imagine if you could write down today all the times you were a compassionate soul to another human being? How many would you be able to write today? One? Two? Five? Let me emphasize again, you need not write down a thing. And compassion could be as simple as a smile to a fellow runner or walker along a path — But when we show compassion, something that actually takes effort on our part, not only is it a beautiful thing for the person who needs the moment, who needs the love, but it is most times an immediate gratification for the person showing the compassion. It’s definitely quid pro quo. Now, I’m not saying it’s the only reason you should be compassionate, but you know, whatever gets you started there, works for me!
Here’s my thing: I’m tired of listening to people I admire talk about gratitude in terms of abundance – it’s become so cliché and for whatever the initial intentions where, it’s become skewed and now so very self-indulgent. Stop it. Be grateful because it’s something you should be. Don’t be grateful because there’s some magical gift coming from doing so.
Compassion – that’s the ticket. You want to write in a journal every day? Start writing a compassion & empathy journal. Figure out how to be a more loving, kind and compassionate soul on the planet and I promise you, finding “abundance” won’t even be an issue.
Have a sweet day . . .
*Music by Chris Zabriskie, Prelude No. 23, http://chriszabriskie.com/