You can change the world with the questions you ask.
Hello Facebook Users,
What did you love about today?
Who challenged or delighted you today and how?
If the universe were to send you a message right now, and that message was exactly the thing you needed to hear, what would it be?
The question/prompt that every blank little window on facebook asks you, “What’s on your mind?” is actually a lot more focused than perhaps you realize. Let me explain my thinking:
- First: it focuses on ‘Mind’…. which, while not exactly the same as asking what you’re thinking about right now, does tend to have a brain or cognitive-centric focal direction. As someone both personally and professionally trying to find a more holistic approach to being in the world, I kinda just dislike this prompt. It’s already a default. I want you to give me something new! Help me see the world differently!
Try this: “What are you experiencing right now?” ________________
Feels different right? gets kinda intimate rather quick... Like oh. yeah. I have some gas and bloating (maybe). Or my foot hurts. Or my heart is lost and lonely from that break up. I miss my dad. I wish I had my dog cuddling with me right now. It almost automatically brings up bodily sensations and emotional feeling tones. It welcomes in all these other levels of experience.... ones that this western culture tends to habitually dismiss as unimportant in it's languaging, politics and general social discourse. Another option that is similar in tone is simply "What do you notice right now?
- Second: It focuses on a ‘what’…. not how or who or where. It asks for a definitive something rather than a process or person or location. Consider changing just that one word:
"Who’s on your mind?" ________________________?
"How is your mind?" _________________________?
"Where is your mind?" ______________________?
Different feelings altogether right? Did one feel better than another? Or just intrigue you a little?
Think of the possibilities available in changing just this one question!
Imagine you want to direct people's attention toward something more creative or community building or cooperative/connective.... the options are pretty endless. Here's just a few off the top of my head:
“Who or What inspired you today?”
“What is the gestalt or theme running through your experience of this day?”
"What struck you as beautiful today? Sad? Intolerable?"
I want to ask you, both as an individual and as a member of this social and co-constructed reality: What question do YOU want to be asked each day? How do you want your attention directed? And what kinds of answers do you want flooding your feed and world view? Because seriously…. you can ask the world and your circle of people for help in all the places you wish to grow. And I feel like if social media were a vehicle that might help us all help each other grow in those areas we want to grow in, then wow.... things might get a little better.
So yeah. That's my two cents. And if you're listening FB, and have any inkling of a desire to do something about this, then here's a few thoughts: first - have a rotating list of questions, ones that expand how you ask for interaction. If your prompts differ at all country to country, then I say go ahead and mix 'em up. Give us options. And second, find a way to allow users to set themselves up with the prompts they desire. And maybe let those start to bleed out into the social stream eventually. You could be helping us all craft and share a more creative and flexible social world rather than narrowing our experiences of others and ourselves to that which we think we already 'like'...
*** for more reading on the power of the questions we ask, as well as for image credits, check out https://www.thedailybeast.com/warren-berger-tells-how-to-ask-a-beautiful-question