A lot is happening in the world right now and a lot of it is horrible. I mean, children were teargassed by the police some time back and if that doesn’t summarize how bad things are then I don’t know what will. I have friends who are set to graduate in 2020 despite having joined campus in 2014 because public universities are a mess. Students have been clobbered for doing the very thing the entire world has commanded them to do their whole lives—studying. And our political scene is a horror story I would rather not get into right now. Things are bad and there are few other times when it has been this important to protect my peace.
Like most people, I spend a lot of time on social media. I find that there is no better way to discover just how bad the human condition is than to take some time to scroll through the comments section of almost any post. Social media allows you to maintain some distance while being the worst version of yourself possible. People say things without thinking, things they wouldn’t dream of saying out loud in person. Polite conversation went out the window with the introduction of filters and hashtags; you can be as rude as you’d like to anybody you’d like and still somehow remain a ‘good’ person. The internet has revealed our true forms.
During such difficult times as the country (and the rest of the world, really) is going through, the hate online is stronger than ever. Many people have resorted to simply unfriending and blocking people who spew spite on their timelines. While it may seem harsh or even a bit presumptuous to cut all connection with someone who says something you don’t agree with, I support such moves wholeheartedly. Because you can only take so much hate before your system begins to react violently to it. If you are constantly surrounded by and interacting with anger and violence, chances are you will hold quite a bit of that within your heart. And these our hearts, they are fragile things. Anger begets anger. Hate begets hate. Violence begets violence. And do we really need any more of those in our lives?
It matters to me that people are having conversations about self-care. It matters that we are learning anew how to choose ourselves and how to put ourselves first. And it matters that sometimes, choosing ourselves, choosing our peace, means letting go of some connections with people, whether online or in real life. Toxic relationships do nothing for the people in them except continually diminish their reservoirs of love. Constant interactions with people who drain you will only leave you spent and too tired to give your love to those that deserve it.
I firmly believe that inner peace is an absolute necessity if we are to learn how to love well. I believe that we should all be deliberate about shutting out noises that disturb our souls. This is not to say that we should not care about the social injustices that happen around us daily. It is not to say that we should stand by and do nothing. After all, it’s nearly impossible to look at the things happening and not be angry. But one of the things that I learnt recently from some of the positive conversations I have seen on the internet is that if our anger is informed by the love we have for people rather than hate, then we set ourselves up for change greater than we thought possible. As always, love trumps hate. Fight for your cause but always, always, with a mind at peace and a heart of love. And when a conversation or a relationship threatens your peace or begins to poison your spirit with hate, confidently walk away.
Because here’s the thing. Your heart is a sacred space. You have every right to choose not to interact with people who are only going to make bile rise in your throat. You don’t need to ruin your entire day because someone on the internet decided their opinion is the only one that matters. Cut off people who promote hate. Unfollow and block. Maintain a social pocket of like-minded individuals who will not only support you but will also help you grow. Engage in conversations that are constructive and that yield fruit. Walk away from those that end up in name-calling and shaming. Walk in the way of love because at the end of the day it is the surest way to guard your heart and protect your peace.
Author: Michelle Korir
Michelle Chepchumba is contributor at Wanjiru Kihusa. She loves cats and enjoys reading and writing in an attempt to discover the mysteries of the human mind. She also works in mental health and writes about life at www.thescroll.co.ke.