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Facebook as Village Gathering Space

Posted on September 28, 2014 by
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What goes on in my mind as I stroll along the Facebook village?

When I joined Facebook I got quite excited because I could invite people to events that my friends and I were involved in. I found out about events and promoted them: foodie gatherings, cultural change workshops, important TED talks, meditation retreats, dance gigs, and other happenings, pages, and videos I felt were helpful toward humanity’s spiritual and cultural awakening.

Eventually I started to have an interest in other people’s offerings. If I wanted what I liked to be on my wall, I immediately understood what sharing was all about, just a click away. The magazine publisher in me had a wild and festive time of accumulating cool and positive news that I too could have on my wall or at the various Facebook page sites that I discovered I could create, based on my assorted interests.

I would create pages that I wanted to collaborate on and share with others. I created “Carpooling in SLO [San Luis Obispo]” and “Cool Events in SLO,” which is now up to 500 members. I then created a Water Resource Directory and a Chemtrail Info. group in our county (with nearly 600 members) and now Sacred Activism in the Tri-County area. It got to be contagious, but I was simply allowing my passions to move into the Facebook world, leading me to see how others too were becoming part of this new world of sharing and positivity.

One never knows how ideas may spread or not. Or if it’s too soon, or too late, or if what just arrived at a particular time and space will suddenly take the human on a course of complete visceral resonance with the automatic intention of sharing it so that it grows and grows. In fact during a deep conversation gathering that I have in my home (about two times a month) I recall a number of us laughing at the realization that we were sitting in front of our computers or iPads waiting for people to “like” our comments. Perhaps because so many of us don’t live in a village/tribe/family/extended family, Facebook has become a way for us to satisfy some of those human needs.

Another thing I spend way too much time on Facebook doing is inviting people to my film events and other gigs. I particularly enjoy spending a second on each little photo and making a speedy decision whether to click the box next to that person or simply to move on. In that split second all sorts of information comes to me: my judgments, evaluations, love, disharmony, appreciations, whether they moved out of the area, or thoughts like “they won’t be interested in it” or “they ought to be interested in it” or “I wonder what they’re up to.” It’s very weird, yet in this strange sense they are in this village. It’s a sense of community and a way to reveal my judgments, my secret desires, my lies, my seducing with words, my vulnerability. I also learn what I appreciate about myself, and what don’t I appreciate.

I use Facebook to sense changes in myself, to see how others have changed, could be changing, to see people differently, to see them as possibly going through difficult times or being really happy. Frequently I send them a note so they know I’m thinking about them, or that I just saw them dancing, or shopping, or riding a bike, and then there is a sense of continuity even though no words in the real world were ever expressed by either of us. A village with rarely a time for conversation!

Facebook has allowed me to go deeper into this human drama and to feel how similar I am with others, as if the separation that I imagine is becoming thinner or even nonexistent. Is it possible that Facebook was actually designed for us to be truly transparent so that consciousness could expand and reveal more of our hearts and spirits?

Central to my experience of Facebook are the love, the likes, the sharing. A photo with a particular quote can touch my heart—that’s a real live energy coming into my body and being that is quite visceral. When it hits a chord I certainly “love” the person who either initiated it or shared it.

Decades ago, I was always rushing around to prove that my viewpoint is the correct one and that the world has to change for my sake. Slowly that viewpoint has shifted away. What’s more important is gratitude. The only person I can truly change is myself. I want to be able to listen to people as if they are me speaking to me, with intention, with desire, with ferocity of purpose, all dancing around, laughing, crying…

And if Facebook or other forms of social media can help with that, then by all means bring it on.

Publisher of HopeDance (formerly in print [for nearly 20 years] and now online), and former resident of two psycho-spiritual communities, Bob Banner is a Certifiable Laughter Yoga Teacher and author of the soon-to-be-released book Laughter as Transformation. He currently screens up to 10 transformational-type documentaries in central coast California each month. Check out HopeDance.org; reach Bob at bob.banner [at] gmail.com, 805-762-4848.


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