There truly is such a thing as too much information.
In an age of social media I have experienced TMI in ever-increasing frequency. People post things online that they would almost never share in face to face interaction. There is a kind of false bravery that breeds permission to say things that are revelatory yet often hurtful in some fashion. It does, however, reveal parts of people that lie below the physical proximity pretense. I have often suspected that behind the polite smile lurks a shadow awaiting exposure. And social media is the perfect platform for such an unmasking.
Too much information.
There is another phrase in our vernacular that I find to be stunningly true.
“You can’t unsee that.”
Put those two perceptions together and they make up a fulltime spiritual practice.
That was too much information, and now I cannot unsee that.
I want to be clear at this point in my musings that I take personal responsibility for what I do with what I wish I had not seen. Please keep that in mind as I continue.
I have had multiple experiences of seeing posts by someone that I care about and thought I knew that are in direct opposition to something that I hold valuable and even sacred. In a nano-second I can feel a shift in how I see that person. I feel a reaction in my gut. I sense an impulse to close tight my eyes and to fervently unsee what I have seen. I feel the oppositional reactions inside of myself. Internal chaos ensues.
Damn. That was too much information. I wish I could unsee that.
And I cannot.
And so begins a battle between my caring heart and my ideological mind. I cannot unsee it. It is too much information to not instigate a process inside of me. Trying to act as if the information is not repugnant to me is useless. It is. Seeking to cover up that I have a strong opinion about your opinion is futile. It was indeed too much information to simply be ignored. I cannot unsee what I have seen.
And now I see you differently.
It becomes time for me to get real and serious about what I am going to do with this too much information. There are options parading through my awareness.
I can assess and decide that I did not really know you at all. The warmth that I thought I felt for and from you was a false fire of yet to be known misguided comradery. Had I had the information sooner I never would have joined myself with you. Had I seen it sooner I would not have been blind to what you really represent.
I could act as if I had not seen it, and lead with a cool and slightly pretensive relating. An unresolved simmering of distain would likely lie just below the surface, awaiting an opportunity to erupt into unexpected hostility.
I could realize that the former two options reflect little about you and your online revelations. I could own that my reactions are about me, and my way of relating to those with whom I disagree. Even if my most cherished values are violated it does not give me license to dehumanize or recharacterize you. This is not a pink paint option. It is actually the option of the lionhearted.
I will vehemently disagree with you, and I will not put my personal ideology before what I am willing to see in you. I will allow the process of the too much information to happen in me. I will welcome the revisioning of the cannot unsee that to shift my perception and clarify my seeing. I will go through this privately, and resist any temptation to repost in retaliation.
I will acknowledge within myself that I am seeing you differently. I will also acknowledge that I am seeing you in more totality. I may not like what I have been called to see. Yet my choice to include and to even embrace your incrementally revealed wholeness is what my own spiritual maturation gifts me with.
This for me is process. Atonement is not conceptual. I seek to know my shared humanity in all its messiness and all its magnificence. Human beings disagree. It is what we do. We are in many ways uniquely programmed. Those programs often conflict. Friction ensues. Friction causes fire. Fire will either burn and consume or it will clarify and warm. The choice is in how I choose to relate when my own embers are ignited.
That was too much information, and I cannot unsee it.
Now there are a series of choices to be made. I may well see you differently. I will not choose to see you as less. I will respect your right to choose even when I do not respect your choice. I am called to decide the level of engagement that is appropriate to how our energy systems may dance. I may need to decide to keep you in my heart, yet not in my direct sphere. I will be relentless in not defining you by your information that I cannot now not see. And I will pray to see through that data to the depth of what you are. If I lose sight of that it is me who is at fault.
So, this may be a clunky way of describing what I am feeling. I will post it anyway, at the risk that it may be too much information for some of you.
If you have read this far, however, you cannot unsee it.