As I watched the aftermath of the Presidential election and the subsequent fallout on social media, I saw emotions ranging from excitement and joy to pure, uninhibited fear. I couldn’t help but think of that suspenseful moment in a reality show where the winner is finally announced. As the confetti falls and the credits roll, our eyes stayed glued to the screen in disbelief of how it is ending.
In an odd way, this election will go down as the greatest reality show in history. But in a weird twist, we became the stars of the show. The American people were inserted into the drama as it unfolded on social media. The magic of the Facebook algorithm fed us information as fast as we could consume it, and we did. The more we clicked and liked and commented, the more it filled our news feed. And as the winner was announced our emotions gave way—our inner Kardashian was revealed as the world stood by and watched.
The Presidential election of 2016 uncovered the deep splintering and separation within our country and social media brought that reality into the palm of our hands like never before. But there’s a curious lesson to be learned from it all and if we’re willing, I think we’ll find it as an opportunity to grow and reunite in the midst of the fallout.
You Reap What You Sow
Facebook is the greatest marketing tool in the history of humankind. It feeds us exactly what we want by analyzing our habits and demographics with absolute precision. It’s built entirely around the concept that you reap what you sow. Whatever you like, whatever you comment on, whatever you read, it returns more of the same. A steady diet of cat videos and baby pictures returns more cat videos and baby pictures. But curiously, the election conversation enhanced all of that. As we read and commented and shared, it continued to fuel the machine.
As a result, our news feed became a direct reflection of what we chose to engage in rather than a true picture of the way things actually were—it only enhanced our perspective and our prejudices. It’s only when we choose to shift our perspective that we actually begin to change what we see. A half-full glass is still half-empty to the one who chooses to see it as such.
But shifting your perspective requires a great deal of humility. Not only an admission that what you’re sowing maybe, in fact, harmful, but a willingness to lay aside your agenda to see things as they actually are. You can only become part of the solution when you realize that you’re a part of the problem.
We’ve sown into reality television stars, now we reap one as our President-elect. Anger and hate have infiltrated our hearts, so now it infiltrates our streets. We’ve sown into fear, and we reap its spirit in our everyday lives.
But the powerful truth is that we can change what we see if we begin changing what we sow.
Do Not Grow Weary in Doing Good
As we stand in the aftermath of this reality show gone bad, I think it’s prudent for us to pause and consider what we have sown. If Facebook has brought about nothing but anger and frustration, I think it’s safe to say that you should take a break. But don’t blame Facebook. You’re simply reaping what you’ve sown.
From here, our hope rests in our willingness to not grow weary in doing good—we have to sow good seed. Be among those who are sowing goodness in the world. In due season, you will reap a harvest. Whatever you give your energy to, it will increase. Whatever you withhold your energy from will decrease. Therefore be consumed with giving your time and energy to that which is good.
I think freedom is ultimately found in learning that we can control the seed that we choose to sow and what we give our energy to. My encouragement to you is to be among those who sow and give their energy to love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control.
For those, the harvest will be rich.