You are Changing the World whether you like it or not - Midweek Musing for 4/26/2023
The internet—especially social media—is one of those things I think many of us have a love-hate relationship with. The internet and all that has come from it is full of both goodness and evil. Of course, that I guess is true of almost every human-made invention.
Cars speed up travel, but with them come drunk driving and vehicles driven into crowds intended to kill. Photos have been used to show beauty but also have been used to embarrass and even blackmail others. Mail can send cards, gifts, and thank you notes, but some have sent hate mail, mail bombs, or envelopes filled with poisons. Even written words can share beauty but also call others to acts of violence and hate. Music lyrics can evoke a range of powerful emotions, but some music today is now just plain vulgar and mean. The list of these contradictions can go on and on.
Such is true with the internet. It can be a force for good but also for evil. During the pandemic, those forces were clearly evident; the internet was being used to connect folks separated because of Covid, but it was also used to spread lies and conspiracies and even led to deaths.
My friend David LaMotte has a quote that he often shares in his concerts or speaking engagements. He reminds audiences that “You are changing the world whether you like it or not.”
It’s a powerful message. The statement is profound but also a bit disturbing because it reminds us that every day, we make an impact even if we would rather not admit it.
During the pandemic, one individual, Adriene Mishler, used social media and the internet in a powerful and positive way. She founded the YouTube channel, “Yoga with Adriene,” which became an internet sensation when the pandemic kept everyone at home and away from gyms and yoga studios.
Now she actually started the channel in 2012 with limited folks tuning in. However, when the pandemic began, and everyone was confined to their homes, views and subscriptions skyrocketed. The growth started slowly in the first two weeks of the lockdown, but as word spread from friend to friend, it exploded and grew exponentially month after month for over a year, and it still has a large audience today.
Mishler’s style is beginner–friendly, with her dog often sleeping in the corner as she provides guidance for her audience to try new yoga poses, repeat body–positive phrases, and “follow their breath” to calm their minds and bodies.
Ross Edgley interviewed Mishler on British GQ’s YouTube channel. Edgley said he read a comment about Mishler where one of her fans says, “This woman will never know how many lives she has saved.” Edgley then asks Mishler if she is aware of the impact she has had.
Watching the interview, you almost expect Mishler to say something like, “I’m just one-woman doing yoga,” or “The impact is hard to imagine.”
But she doesn’t. Mishler says that the ripple effect is real. She tells Edgley that it really does take just one small action, such as recording a few yoga videos from your home, to start a whole chain reaction of good in the world. She goes on to say that when we undersell ourselves and say diminutive things like, “I’m just a girl from Texas …” (as Mishler is), then we are really saying “It doesn’t matter what I do because my actions do not make a difference.”
But as my friend David reminds us, whether we like it or not we are changing the world. Perhaps positively or perhaps negatively but we are changing the world whether we like it or not.
But our call as Christians is to change the world for the better. To work to build the beloved community of the kingdom of God. It sounds daunting but it is truly very simple. Our job is simply to do the good that is ours to do. It does not matter how big or small that may be. If we own our actions, even the small ones, we can have a large ripple impact. Then we have a chance of indeed transforming the world for the glory of God.
May it be so.
In the name of the creator, redeemer, and sustainer of all. Alleluia Amen.