The two things, being a Stoic, and Social Media, may seem like an odd match, but it is in fact a good way to go, if you thing well and wisely about it. Yes, is is easy to waste a lot of time on Social Media, and there is much on Social Media that is toxic to anyone wanting to go the Stoic way for sure.
But with careful thought and consideration, one can indeed be a Stoic, and insert Stoic thoughts into the toxic world of Social Media. Careful consideration is needed as is a close eye on the time you spend there, but if you can do that, and just pop in when it won’t interfere with important things, then you can use it as a way to spread thoughts, wise thoughts, and work to raise the tone of discussion.
So basically, if you hold to the Stoic idea of being the best person you can be, holding to the virtues of stoicism, you should be fine. Don’t use social media to shame others who don’t deserve it, treat others well, don’t indulge in petty and nasty games that do no good for anyone.
Be on Social Media as you know you should be to others in real life, and you should be fine. Doing good is possible on and with Social Media, as is doing bad. As a Stoic, you know which you should do, always, Good always over Bad. Simple.
We all have choices to make, ways to go, in life. If we go the wrong way, it is always possible to turn around, and head back in the correct direction.
I’ve been pondering and wondering about Stoicism and Politics, and how or if the two can do good things, if joined with a poem. I don’t know the answer to this, and certainly would like input from others, poets, Stoics, politically minded people …
This is the poem:
Politician’s Free Speech? A Sonnet
Their words inspire bad ways, not good,
I wish to clench my ears to keep them out –
they sicken me, why listen? I know I should
cleanse my skin of them, scream and shout!
Though my pores refuse to let them in,
still the hate invades my troubled self.
To listen, to hear their filth, is it sin?
I’m complicit – ghoul, not goodly elf,
for though I rightly say I don’t agree,
what I do is clearly not enough –
the price we pay for democracy,
to be invaded by this vile stuff …
Unworthy lies portrayed as honesty –
the price we pay for speech is far from free.
So, does this poem speak of politics, and hint perhaps at Stoic thoughts? I think on such matters at times, and would appreciate discussing it further. If you have thoughts on this too, please leave a comment, and we can discuss it further.
I am a poet, writer, and blogger. I write things, most days, sometimes just comments on Facebook, or Tweets on things that interest me in various ways. This exploration of Stoicism, has remained poetry free, up until now but I’m obviously feeling creative today, in poetic ways.
So, after writing and posting a poem to my Writing Blog here, I have now written another new poem for the day, and it is an Acrostic Poem, based on Stoicism, the actual word, and some of my thoughts about it. I hope you will read the poem, and let me know what you think about it.
If you don’t know, an Acrostic poem is one that has the letters of a particular word or phrase as the first letters of a poem. It is usually a poem that has that particular word as the content of the poem. If this explanation is a little confusing, I’m sure (or at least I hope) reading the poem will add to understanding.
Spending time with Nature is one of my favoured things. And by ‘time with Nature’ I don’t necessarily mean time way out in the bush. I can simply go out of my door, front door or back door, and I can be with Nature.
There are trees, and birds, and the sky with or without clouds. And there’s the wind out there too, bringing more sounds, above the bird calls out there. Out of the back door, there are wind chimes, the wind seems to frolic through, and out of the front door we have big pine trees that the winds swoosh through at times, making it sound like there is an ocean up close to us, even though it isn’t near enough to hear, in reality.
This morning, I had a peaceful time out there, collecting things. My main collecting ‘thing’ was a list in my head of the different kinds of birds I saw or heard. I do this sometimes, not because I want to make a top ten list of birdwatchers of the world or anything like that, but simply because I like to do it.
I like birds, and they are one of my preferred parts of Nature. I didn’t know I would find this love of watching and listening birds when my husband and I moved from the suburbs to the country. But love of it, I certainly have, and while my list of birds isn’t record breaking, I am pleased with my number of around fifty different kinds of birds seen at or above my place, over the years.
I like the fact that I can spend ten to fifteen minutes outside and easily encounter at least five different kinds of birds, almost guaranteed. My birdwatching/listening foray this morning gave me more than five different birds, the list is:
Sparrows (lots), Swallows, Chickens (I can hear my neighbours’ Chickens when they get excited), Crested Pigeons, Spotted Turtle Doves, Black Faced Cuckoo Shrikes, New Holland Honeyeater, Starlings, Parrots of some kind. Then just now, back inside, I saw a Murray Magpie through the window into the front yard. Ten different kinds of birds.
That’s not a bad haul for a quiet morning of easy bird watching. I fossicking around out in the yard too, checking out and picking something to put into a ‘vase’ for decoration in the kitchen. I also looked at the vegetable plants we have growing in the backyard, and the flowering plants we have growing in hanging baskets on the back veranda.
These pleasant past times won’t make me rich in monetary terms, but they enrich my life, and a life enriched by simple things like this is surely a good life. When I am ‘out there’ I think on things like the way the different kinds of birds have their own place, and do their own things, living near each other, but living quite different lives, in many ways.
The birds eat different things – some are nectar lovers, some eat insects, some others dine on a variety of other things. They make the most of the bounty that is available, and if our place failed to give them what they need, they will move on.
There are some birds that are here only in certain times, others are always here. The Sparrows are certainly always here, living and breeding in our bushes and trees. It is late Winter now, and Spring is certainly in the air. I spotted a couple of Sparrows in the backyard this morning, who were obviously in a ‘Spring is Here’ kind of mood, if you get what I mean!
So I have had a pleasant morning, and am now having a light lunch, with a cup of my only ‘addiction’, coffee. I only indulge in moderate amounts of coffee, three cups a day, usually. My lunch is nuts and seeds, with some fried fruit, also only moderate amounts of each.
A moderate life, a good life of simple pleasures, and interesting ‘other things’, doing good when and if I can, this is my recipe to a good and Stoic life, and it is a life I am enjoying. Family connections, meeting up with friends, doing things for my community, these all bring my joy, and I am always grateful for these simple pleasures.
Having a life to be grateful for, that is a life for me, for sure!
How I see it Virtue is at the top, ruling over all else. Virtue is the highest good.
(the four cardinal virtues of wisdom, morality, courage, and moderation)
After Virtue, all else, the various preferred indifferents come, but are never to against any of the virtues. Preferred indifferents are things such as health, wealth, education, and good looks.
There should be nothing else, because all else are dispreferred indifferents, and disperred indifferents go against the virtues, and so prevent any chance of rising to the top level of Wisdom, surely the supreme state of being.
To strive for any of the preferred indifferents is fine, so long as no virtue is acted against. So striving for wealth, in cowardly ways is dispreferred, as would, for instance, obtaining educational qualifications by cheating.
It would be going too far to have excessive medical modification to obtain ‘beauty’, ie breast implants enhancing what Nature gave you, for instance, that would go against the virtue of moderation for sure, and would be a dispreferred indifferent. If one was to have surgery to fix up damage done, from breast cancer surgical treatment for instance, that would come under class of preferred indifferents, on the other hand.
If you are doing anything that goes against what is natural, then that would usually be considered a dispreferred indifferent, as far as I understand these things. “What is Natural” is a thing that could be argued on, this way and that, but the ultimate answer must always result in a thing that is virtuous and good, good in the Stoic sense, good for self, for community, good for the world …
If any of what I have written here interests you, or if I have gone off track at all, I am open to further conversation here, regarding it. I am new to Stoicism, even though it feels like I was always headed toward taking on this ‘Philosophy’ even though I hadn’t reaslied it.
I feel I am a Stoic-in-training, and am looking to many avenues to further that training. Life is a university we all must attend, to find the knowledge we require to lead our best, and most virtuous, lives.
My ideas about the four cardinal virtues of Stoicism.
Stoicism a way of thinking that has been around for at least two thousand years. It began in Greece all those years back, then was taken up in Roman times, by Emperor Marcus Aurelius. A main focus was on deeper thinking, but more than that, actually living the thoughts they held to.
This thinking focused especially on four cardinal virtues -those of prudence, courage, justice, and temperance. When taking up Stoicism, one must take up these virtues, and live the things learned from these virtues.
Prudence is all about knowing what is right and wrong/good and bad, and acting in the best way possible, the right way, the good way to go throughout all of life. Doing the prudent thing is to do the good thing, the best thing, when looked at rationally and with the eye to the best for all, if relevant.
The virtue of Courage refers to well, to courage, being fearless in the face of danger, doing the right thing even at cost to self. It can also refer to simpler things, like forbearance, facing up to pain and continuing with what is your job to do. Be bold, be intrepid, bravely go where it is right for you to go. Do not do this to be dangerously foolhardy, do it to do the right thing, the best thing you can rationally do.
When looking at the virtue of Justice, it does well to consider it as social virtue, doing the moral/ethical thing. Kindness is involved with this, also fairness, goodwill, benevolence, all of these are encompassed by ‘Justice’. Doing the right thing no matter the hurt to yourself, as long as it is the rational thing, in keeping with who and what you are, this is a Stoic thing.
The final virtue is Temperance. This virtue is all about moderation, knowing when one has had enough and stopping at that point or before, never overindulging. Taking only what you need, is the Stoic way, not being greedy. More importantly, it refers to being self-aware, knowing how much you need. Having self-control shows having this virtue. It is akin to what the contemporary person may call Mindfulness.
So there are some of my thoughts about these four important aspects of Stoicism, I welcome the thoughts of others regarding what I have written and regarding these important virtues.
I am a fortunate person. I live in a house with strong walls and a roof. There is heating and cooling available if and when needed. No matter the weather outside, I know I can be comfortable inside my home.
At the moment, it is winter, and looks it. I am inside, sitting near a window, with a good view of my front yard. I’m seeing what the wind is doing, blowing various things out there, with lots of branches waving around, and with clouds that are coming between the sun and my eyes, with sunshine one moment bright and clear, the next moment dark and gloomy.
I am putting in time before I get moving, readying myself to go out, to visit an Art Gallery, where there will be artworks I have viewed previously, and written poetically about, and now, if things have gone as planned, be currently displayed with the artwork and relevant poems together.
This connection of artwork and poetic response is exciting to me, and I hope other viewers can get a deeper understanding of what both visual art, and poetry can be, in viewing this, at the gallery. Understanding more about life, digging deeper into what is, to find out about what else life may be, these things are important, if we are to become the humans we could and should be trying to become.
I think on such things, and sometimes a new thought may become a new poem, as has happened today, this gloomy wintry day, lit and made brighter by worthy words, as in this new poem of mine, written this morning, connecting together some of my thoughts. I hope you enjoy the poem and thoughts that may come from reading it.
When things go wrong for you, in any way, your initial reaction may be to feel angry about that thing. It will be a reflexive thing, an emotional boiling over, perhaps, in response to that ‘wrong’ thing that happened.
If you are trying to stick with the Stoic mindset though, you would be trying to live a life that has no anger in it. If you scoff at that notion, perhaps you need to have a good think. What good does anger do? Does anger make life go how you want it too, if you miss your bus, and you’re going to be late to work? No, anger won’t hurt there.
In those circumstances, a more useful reaction, a considered reaction, would perhaps be to get in your car and drive to work, because that will get you there on time. Anger takes up your mind and you will be wasting time with fuming, instead of doing some rational thinking.
There are many such circumstances in life, and the more you try to stick with a Stoic mindset, the easier it should become, to take a few seconds before reacting, so that you can respond to things in the most rational way possible.
Anger can have bad health results for a person, who gets easily angry. It can raise their blood pressure, give them a headache, make them anxious. Anger will flood the body with stress chemicals, which are useful if you have to run for your life straight away, but can kill you if it happens too often …
Finding other ways to react, rather than boiling over with anger is a much healthier way to react, and it is more likely to lead to good results, instead of bad ones. Every time you think before you react, you will be doing yourself a favour. This site here has more information about this.
For now though, think about the last time you felt really angry. Did you boil over, or quickly calm down, and then move on to solving whatever the issue was that made you so angry? The angry reaction will slow down a better, more rational action. If there are certain trigger points for you, that you know will always make you angry, it’s useful to think hard about better ways to react, if you worry about ‘going off the rails’, with anger.
A far better way to react might be to look at the thing that has made you angry, and turn it on its head, to think about who you can find a way to take advantage of whatever it was that made you so angry.
For instance, that time when you missed your bus, why did you miss it? If it was because you had a late night, and slept through your alarm, it may be the thing you need to take on better habits, and go to bed earlier on during the week. You will then get more sleep, have more time to get ready in the morning, and maybe even have time for some exercise before you start your day! All good things.
So if you think first, you will be kinder to your body and your mind, and you can set better ways to go in your life. Thinking about issues that affect you will always be a good thing. Perhaps thinking at night time about what you have that will be happening the next day, and considering how things might go, would be a way to feel more prepared in your life. This is a very Stoic way to go, looking at life, and preparing for what may come.
Life is a journey, and it will go better, if you prepare yourself well for the journey, ready for what might come, whatever it is. Think first, leave anger out of your life!
In my past, I’ve been guilty of being a sometimes strident protester, Speaking out every time I read something I think is ‘wrong’, for whatever reason it may be, and whether is actually affects me or not.
This is on Social Media, mind you, when if you follow many people, it is an ongoing thing, that somebody will write something you disagree with. But if you are on the other person’s page, and they are posting something you don’r agree with, do you really have the need, or even the right, to immediately jump in and lambaste them.
So I used to do that, often, and got into a few, shall we say, ‘discussions’, where I and my words were rubbished. Then I would be all cranky, of course, but on further reflection, I can see that some of the time, I may have deserved the bollocking I received.
I’ve managed to get over that now, and these days I’m much more inclined to sit with the words, and see how, or if, they need me to say anything at all. We are all allowed to have our own opinions, after all, and a person’s Facebook Page is their space where they can write what they think, it’s what Freedom of Speech is.
But of course, I have my own Freedom of Speech too, so if somebody says a thing I find offensive to myself, and/or to others, then I may well speak up against those words, as is also my right. If everyone remains silent in the face of awful words and thoughts, then it may well become that such words go on being spoken, because no-one is reacting out against them.
But if someone writes something I don’t agree with, on their own page, then I’m much more likely these days to just step back, and let those words rest there, and not say a word against them. I will do this particularly when it is a person I know, because I feel that to bring that person out into the general discussion may be less effective than to speak to the person in a more private way, where a discussion can take place, one person to the other.
In this way, both may come to a better awareness of what the other person really believes, and if it was not what they really were trying to say, you could perhaps assist the person in amending their earlier comment. And if they did mean what you first thought they had written, then sometimes it may be the time to either work at convincing them they are wrong, or simply accept that you simply don’t agree on that particular matter.
And that is not a terrible thing. We don’t all have to agree about everything. Some like Winter, some like Summer, no problems there. Unless a Winter person is the one organising the next holiday, and the Summer person has to go with them to the snowfields, instead of the beach, well that could be a problem!
But if that other person has an opinion that doesn’t really affect you, instead of getting hot under the collar, why not just step back, and let things cruise by, as they will, if you let them. Getting stuck in immediately can bring stress, and these days, who wants to bring on even more stress into their life? Not me, that’s for sure!
If you step back instead, giving yourself time to take a good look at things, it might well save yourself from stress. As long as nobody gets or is likely to get hurt, just step back, and think about it all. That way, if you see that something does need to be said or done, you will be in a position for a more considered response, one that is more likely to be taken seriously.
And who wouldn’t rather have their opinion taken seriously? I know I would, that’s for sure. People who go off immediately, and get the story up the creek, will soon enough have people begin to just ignore what they say. Thinking things through properly is by far the best way to go. What do you think? Get in quick and get it out, or think further about it, and then release a possibly more useful opinion?