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    • #15324
      Jenny Livingston

      As a person with chronic illness, the internet is a place I can turn for support, information, and community. As someone with CF in particular, the internet is a place to form and maintain friendships that are not safe for me to have in “real life.” (We’ve been social distancing since long before it was the cool thing to do.)

      But I’m currently in a fight with the internet, or more specifically, a huge percentage of the people who exist there. Politics, coronavirus, and The Great Mask Debate have brought to light many perspectives I genuinely didn’t know existed. Even friends and family members have shown colors that, quite frankly, are horrifying to me. I’ve been hurt, upset, deeply saddened, and enraged by so much of what I’ve seen. The discourse taking place is far from productive.

      How do you know when to step away? The online CF community brings so much joy and fulfillment, yet the negativity and constant debate about the value of human lives is draining. My mental health is suffering.

      How are you balancing the need for connection with the need to protect your mental health? When do you know it’s time to step away? Can we maintain the good and productive relationships while silencing the negativity online?

    • #15327
      Paul met Debbie

      To balance the needs of the mind is a hopeless endeavor. The only way to go is to diminish those needs and let them fade away. So by all means, step away. Right now. Away from the thoughts, opinions, convictions and drama that is played “out there” (on the internet or in “real life”) by instable minds that have no anchor. Every crisis, like now it happens to be caused by a virus, enlarges the problems of people who are losing their way all the time in the chaos of everchanging circumstances out there. But these problems are not new, they are perennial. And they are man-made.

      It is good to realize that no one ever has the right picture in mind, the situation is much too complex for that. Politicians, scientists, physicians, family and friends, “strangers”: everyone is trying to get a grip on the situation in his own way and acts prematurely on wrong or incomplete knowledge and convictions. Hence a chaotic and estranging picture is painted. Have compassion with this, it’s called the human condition.

      But don’t get into this chaos yourself, stay out of it. Look at it from a distance. Be the observer, not the player of this strange game. Connection can be made with reality and life without this. First of all have a good and productive relationship with yourself beyond your own mind. If the need to connect on a personal (egoic) level falls away, you can be much more relaxed about everything and everyone that happens around you. Don’t look for mental health in the world outside, go into your own world. Don’t judge what you observe, just observe. And stay yourself. The peace you want is right there and nowhere else. Even when the ocean is stormy at the surface, the deep will be still peaceful as ever. Be as unimpressed as that deep ocean.

      It is a joyful state. It is like the umpire of a tennis game. He has an overview from his elevated position and can enjoy every game. He is not concerned who wins or loses, he does not have the frustration or petty joys of the players. He is not troubled by heat or exhaustion. He will not get injured. His happiness does not depend on the outcome of any particular game. But still, he is fully alert and consciously involved in the playing and loves every minute of it. From this position he can really love the sport of tennis, or sport in general, or life in general, much more so than any of the players can. Champions will rise and fall, but the umpire will just do his impartial joyful watching.

      Coming from this observing perspective, you can still look at everything that is happening, gather information, exchange views, but now you will be able to discern between real and unreal without being pulled into the chaos. There will be no need to step back or forward, because you come for a place of stepping beyond.

      Happy peaceful observing!

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