Suddenly Social Media – Why I “act out of character” for the “Empathy Cycling Tour”

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“I don’t like to be in front of other people.”  How does this sentence affect you? This article deals with my experiences on the subject: Dealing with social fears, especially on social media. Let me share my personal experiences with negative thoughts that I could easily manipulate myself.

Maybe you’re categorically opposed to certain things yourself. In this article there is a little less new information about my “Empathy Cycle Tour 2019”, but it should give you some insight, what I see as my personal challenge for the project and why empathy is such an important subject for me. It is also a reminder that prejudice shows up in many forms and empathy can be lived out in many forms because it is also about understanding how to recognise the problems of others. Even if you don’t feel or see it that way yourself.

Be strong and show weakness

So far in my life, I have used social media rather cautiously. Too much it seems that no matter where you look, only those who shout the loudest will be successful. And I have made life difficult for myself with my prejudices. But recently I started to share posts and videos around the area – a bit unplanned and not very chic yet. A strange feeling, because, I have always avoided that, even though wonderful friendships have developed through Facebook. I’ve ever had a different approach to dealing with people, and I never seemed suitable for the mass. That doesn’t mean that I can’t find my way in groups. But the individual and personal exchange work much better for me…but it’s also more cumbersome.

You’re not a personality type. You are a character; what type of depends on what you do and who observes and evaluates you.

Now a cycle trip is on my agenda, which I want to document and use to network and connect to people. What could be better than a worldwide social network?

As you can see, I belong to the group of people who don’t tend to push themselves into the foreground, and I like to share, help others and pay attention to my fellow human beings whenever possible; potentially more than I pay attention to myself. Sounds like a good quality? But how desirable is this lifestyle? Is that always the case?

Eye-opening experience

There was a moment that was staggering to me when I watched a child standing in the background at a birthday party, while a wild bunch of other children jumped on a Piñata to knock off the head. Helplessly, the child in the back looked over to the other children, the eyes filled with tears, -that said, “Help me, somebody. I want something too”. But not a word came over the lips.

You can never really be there for anyone if you can’t take care of yourself.

I witnessed how a person who was actually social and cheerful was not able to stand up for herself – and on top of that, I recognised myself in nuances in it — I was embarrassed. On the one hand, of course, I am pleased to see one child not pushing other children aside and taking all the sweets for herself. But on the other hand, I was concerned about watching a child who wasn’t able to make himself noticed by the other children.

Without active involvement, however, the other kids did not have the opportunity to reflect on their actions, because they did not notice anything in the hustle and bustle of the battle. Maybe it was carelessness, and perhaps it was just unconsciousness. Evaluating this is of no use to the child. So, you can’t actually blame the bunch of children; they were just eager to have fun (admittedly, in a quite rough manner). But I also know similar situations from the professional life of adults.

Power games in society

There was once a situation where a question dumbfounded me. Someone asked me in the middle of a conversation and unexpectedly whether I was someone who was “quasi just a dishwasher ” (that is derived on the German version of the idiom: From rags to riches). Nobody had ever tried to label me with such a thing. I rejected it immediately and was shocked by this question.

After all, I had many responsibilities and even worked in a management position. But with a little distance, however, I understood better where my weaknesses lie and consciously allowed to see myself in rags.

I started with the question: Why should I reject it at all? Probably because the dishwasher, like someone in rags, is not a status symbol. At least nothing that is generally considered positive. But I don’t want to get involved at all in living in such pejorative thought patterns.

Even in leadership positions, I collaborated. I also understood how to assert interests without wielding power; this leads me to the question: Do you know how you could influence others positively when even wearing rags?

Having no power does not absolve you of responsibility.

Leadership is not necessarily about having power. Up-to-date leadership training teaches collaboration and cooperation more and more, that is an excellent chance for those who are not comfortable being in the first row.

But that also means that having little or no power does not absolve you of responsibility.

You can’t take justice for granted

It is not a constitutional law that there must necessarily be badly paid professions. And yet we live the same way. Everywhere people are stamped according to what they do. Equal pay is not equal to fair compensation. Who determines which occupation is valuable and which is worthless? Why do women have fewer rights and fewer opportunities, or what about children’s rights?

The circumstance that these things have at least improved is not mainly because many were suddenly enlightened, but to the fact that, despite unequal power relations, some people have shown a lot of commitment. It often takes someone to prove himself as the leader, while others were suddenly chosen as the leader and accepted. I dedicate my tour to those people, even if they advocate only for small things, that others don’t see.

How do you advocate for who is the right leader or representative of your essential subjects?

Not wanting to stand in the first row does not mean that others have to take responsibility for their own needs.

Elegant rags

The metaphor of the story ” From rags to riches overnight” sounds charming to many, but not everyone wants to be in the spotlight, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But if unpopular jobs or interests should get more attention or new
meaning, then they must be promoted. Complaints and regrets do not help. That’s why we need a vision: A world with people who long for more than money and recognition. People who get involved in unusual things, or who make themselves unusually strong for ordinary things. I look out for these people and projects in the next weeks and months and will report before, during and after the cycling tour. Anyone can join in.

So, I am now planning my first own fundraising campaign, and suddenly romping around on social media, posting videos, quotes and questions. I’m doing this because I want to focus on what’s important to me: empathy and passion. And it’s worth it to act out of my character.

So that was a little bit about me showing a bit of vulnerability. The next episodes will tell you more about the content, the process and the progress of my preparations. I will keep these shorter but write more regularly. Next, there will be details about the route and intermediate stops, as well as actions on and before the trip. So, clean your glasses (if you have some) and stay with me.

Live life meaningfully,

Björn

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