Compassion Online

Tonight, I am thinking about compassion online and specifically on blogs. It is one year since 1000VoicesSpeakForCompassion was launched – the intention was to get a thousand bloggers together and spread compassion around the world.

The prompts for celebrating a year of #1000Speak are focussed on the effect that being involved with 1000VoicesSpeakForCompassion has had on writers. Writers are asked: Do you see things differently at all? Do you notice any changes around you ~ either in your circle of friends and family or in the wider world? How do you feel about what you see?

I don’t know the answers to any of the above as this is my first post for 1000VoicesSpeakForCompassion. Since I discovered 1000Voices and read several blog posts about Forgiveness (last month’s prompt), I have been noticing the compassionate replies I have come across while reading blog posts.

I have not been blogging or very long, but I have noticed that bloggers empathise with each other, especially in their own communities. Every weekend, bloggers write posts for blog events, sharing the ups and down of their week. Other bloggers read these posts and reply with kindness, understanding and compassion. They listen to each other, support each other, encourage each other, motivate each other and accept each other – unconditionally.

We are not necessarily talking here about old friends that have known each other for decades, or friends who phone or text each other several times a day and see each other at least once a week, or friends that grew up together and forged a lasting bond over many years. We are talking about friends from totally different backgrounds, different cultures, different countries and different political and/or sexual persuasions, different religions, different ages – all offering compassion and support when another blogger is in dire need.

There must be some hope for us all, if we can empathise with each other despite our differences.

Feeling inspired, I thought that I should try to commit one or more small acts of compassion every day. Clearly, I do not have to go looking very far. All I need to do is to switch on my computer and read my blogging friends’ posts. As I mentioned, I have not been blogging for very long, barely 6 months, and already I have been on the receiving end. When a very good friend committed suicide on the 31 of December, my blogging friends enveloped me in understanding and compassion, wheelbarrow loads full. It made a difference, a huge difference. Reading about how others handled similar situations helped me cope.

I realise that there are no doubt trolls waiting in the sidelines – I have been on the receiving end of that too – but the overwhelming compassion I have encountered online remains one of the main reasons why I continue to blog.

That, and initiatives like 1000VoicesSpeakforCompassion.

Certainly worth celebrating!

For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.” –  Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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4 Replies to “Compassion Online”

  1. I love this.
    You are so right. The weekly blog hops are supportive and the monthly one, this one, it helps me immensely. It is a great great thing. Thanks for pointing all this out.

  2. Over the years I have seen and been involved in such blogging communities. Even when the original intention had nothing directly to do with compassion and support. Back in 2008, a little community evolved over Talking Points Memo when it had a Reader’s Blog Cafe. Pretty much in the begging it was consumed first with the battle between Obama and Clinton (being a left-leaning site). Talk about vitriol and flame wars. But over time the little community of bloggers I connected with (or joined the clique as some called it) grew very strong. A message board was set up and esp on Fridays people would log in and just talk, share music and issues with their life.

    There one fellow who had a kind of degenerative disease and was in constant pain, almost bed-ridden and house-bound by it. He spent most of time developing fractal images and would post those at the message board. Then one day around 2010 he passed away. We learned of it because his sister sent a letter to one the members whose email he had. She talked about how much we meant to him, that we were one of the few bright spots in his life as struggled against his condition.

    The grief I felt was stronger than I have felt for those who I have known, but was not very close to . It was a powerful message of how we can touch people lives and be touched through the online world.

    Kundera once mentioned that compassion in Czech would be more appropriately translated as co-passion, as in to share the same passions as if they were one’s own, no separation.

    1. If he was my friend, I would have felt bereft too. I think those “experts” who insist that friendships can only exist between “real” people, will have to review their assumptions. My life has been enriched immeasurably by my online friendships and my horizons have been widened in many different ways. Kundera’s take on compassion is spot on.

  3. You hit on the best part of all of this, Margaretha – the connections. Whether it’s a weekend hop or the monthly compassion link-up or just the every day, the connections we’ve all made online are true and good. Glad to have you with us!

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