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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Social media influence on my spiritual journey

Many people who claim to be busy say that joining social medias is just a waste of time. Some reasons are mentioned. First, people who are active in social medias tend to hide their true identity so we cannot really get true friends. Second, people who are social media addicts tend to be lousy in doing their jobs since their concentration is divided into two: their ‘real’ world and ‘cyber’ world. They also tend to gossip unimportant things online.

However, to me, joining two social medias – facebook (FB) and multiply (MP) gave me a very valuable lesson, especially related in spirituality/religiosity.

Since I was born in the so-called xenophobic family and raised in an almost homogenous environment, I often feel amazed by people who ‘seem’ to be religious (let’s say wearing jilbab) but they do not ‘suffer from’ xenophobia*. In my naive thinking, one can become only religious but xenophobic or irreligious so free from xenophobia.

Having an account on FB and ‘making online friends’ with those who label themselves as ‘spiritual** people’ have taught me a very good lesson. I – coming from ‘a boat full of religious but xenophobic people – once thought that spiritual people are better people since they are not xenophobic. But reading their posts taught me that they can be as annoying as religious and xenophobic people. They can also easily judge believers dumb, narrow-minded. In fact they can be snobbishly spiritual creatures. Spiritual people can be fundamentalist too.

As someone considering others mature, know their choices and be responsible with the consequences, I would rather think that people are free to choose their  spirituality/religiosity. People can choose to be a religious adherent of one religion or to be a deist or to be a non-believer. The most important thing is no one will force what they believe to others and respect others’ choices.

Participating in an essay writing on xenophobia on MP and reading essays submitted to the juries gave me an answer why some religious people can be free from xenophobia; a very simple reason, in fact. They were born and raised in a heterogeneous environment. They started socializing with people from different religions since they were kid and their parents as well as their (early) teachers never brainwashed them about ‘the chosen people’ (are only Muslim, let’s say, or any other Abrahamic faith adherents). They started seeing the beauty of rainbows in their different colors since they were very young. Therefore, they beautifully see others with their respective faiths without any judgment.

Very contradictory from me who was born in a homogenous environment. The fear that perhaps I would be an infidel – oh no, the fear that they would be thrown to hell if their kids convert – my parents brainwashed me about being the chosen people since I was a kid and sent me to an Islamic elementary school that completed my parents’ teaching on being religious. Of course I also learned about tolerance, but this was really artificial.

To close this writing, I can conclude that joining any social media does not only waste time. As long as we choose to socialize with appropriate online friends, we can get valuable lessons to live our lives.

*xenophobia here means feeling to be the only true believers and considering the others wrong since they adhere other religions, moreover non-believers. In other words it can be said that xenophobic people will easily judge others deviant or infidel.

** spiritual here means thinking that it is not important to affiliate to any religion; be it a deist or embracing ‘traditional’ beliefs, in Java island, for example: Kaharingan, Kepercayaan pada Tuhan YME, etc.

This was written to accompany my writings to be submitted to Wayan Lessy, the one who held the essay writing competition on ‘xenophobia’.
GL7 16.39 050912

This is, in fact, the continuation of my posts here and there; both are in Bahasa Indonesia. I am still struggling to find time (as well as mood) to translate them into English. Please pardon me. :)