Sunday, August 23, 2009

Compassion on Twitter

I have always been an ‘in person’ kind of person. It is how I usually communicate at work, as well as my social life. I have the advantage of watching body movement, looking into people’s eyes, listening to the tone of their voice, the volume in their voice, pregnant pauses and what is being said between the lines. As a counselor, mastering this skill insures success with clients. They often come to me lonely and confused. They tell me things that they’ve never told anyone else and are always reluctant for fear of being judged. But this isn’t done easily. First, I have to make certain that they are comfortable and feel safe. A smile helps. A soft voice and then reminding these troubled souls that whatever their problem happens to be, I realize it is very important and vital ‘to them’, thus, it is very important to me. As a story unfolds, I actively listen. I try to understand everything that they are saying and if I become confused, I gently ask for some clarification. And throughout their entire story, I continue to give positive feedback…always trying to find the good in whatever they are telling me. This builds confidence and, ultimately, trust. And them the sessions begin. Each one is built on the previous one and a pattern soon emerges where the client and I exchange pleasant, meaningful cross talk. They are always reassured that I am 100% on their side. Taking this skill to Twitter was a goal I set for myself. In 140 character tweets, I soon saw a wide range of issues being posted with a lot of deep emotion behind them. I tried to imagine the troubled user sitting behind their computer, trying to reach out and hoping that they would be heard, or acknowledged, or recognized. These people were looking for a connection. Easier to do in my office than on a computer, but not impossible. I have been able to reach several people with empathy, compassion and kindness and have been able to do it all with words. First, it is important to reinforce that it is very courageous to post their life in public and how much that I admire them. Then, I reiterate that they are not alone. As the story unfolds, I give the choice of posting me in private or in public. Most people prefer to post in public because they want people to know who they are and they want to let people know what is troubling them. Most of all, they are looking for help. Some say that posting their stories is cathartic, as they have been bottling up such pain for such a long time. In some instances it feels safer to do it, first, online as they can remain somewhat anonymous. As I follow these users, I am blessed to be able to be a part of their daily lives…always ready to lend support or give a social service referral if necessary. I do not speak for any specific organization. I am speaking from myself and my own personal experiences. I am not acting as a professional on Twitter, but I do practice professional ethics. I am but one man, among many, reaching out to assist my neighbor in times of sadness and depression. Compassion is possible and, at times, essential on Twitter. My wish is that we all practice it, thus, bringing unity into our cyber world. I am Richard Bassett, CADAC and I can be found on


  1. I believe that there is so much to share on twitter about lives touching lives. It's a different touch from when you touch the person with a warm embrace or a smile that shows the twinkle in your eyes - nonetheless it is a touch that is entirely transforming the person with all their senses, leaving an imprint on their energetic field that interconnects all in ONEness and ONEderment.

    There is both PASSION and COMPASS in the word COMPASSion.

    If compassion is your passion it is your compass and takes you straight to fulfillment.

    With gratitude for who you are and what you do.

    aka @serendipityjane

  2. It is amazing to me, how you have found a way to make a difference in so many peoples lives, touching them all equally. Your sensitivity and ability are far reaching in assisting others for healing and to help many to also find resources for themselves. Far beyond the scope of this, you have helped to bring people together for community and friendship for no other reason, but because you could. It is a gift to have the knowledge, skills and awareness to be able to aid others in times of crisis. But your gifts also assist in prevention of crisis, by bringing consistant comfort for many people who didn't even realize they needed help. You are a true blessing to humanity. ~dj

  3. Throughout my life, I have fought to gain a sense that somebody understood me, and that I was not alone in this great big, scary world. I can never remember a time when my soul has never felt Tormented. As such, I have always worn a mask to the real world...never revealing how very wounded I am inside. Having met you on Twitter, I can honestly say that you have dramatically impacted my life. In your own gentle and caring way, you nudged me more toward the world of wonders that exist on Twitter; a group of compassionate and beautiful people, just waiting to love you and embrace who you are inside. I thank you for that Rich Bassett, for without you, I may have taken my life one night, not long ago. In essence, you saved my life and for that I am grateful beyond what words could ever convey...

    For all you do as a humanitarian, an activist and a genuinely compassionate man, I express to you my forever gratitude.

    You are a blessing to all...

    A Tormented Soul

  4. Richard,
    What an incredible read. Rich, I found myself in similar scenarios and have found that I have been able to build some pretty incredible friendships...and I find myself truly blessed for having met these increidbly complex, diverse, and inspirational people.

    Thanks to TormentedSoul (@TormentedOne) for turning me on to this read... Incredible!

    Thank you,
    Darren Sproat

  5. You have given twittering a different perspective. I like the way you said about people reaching out in twitter. I have not thought of it that way before. There's truth in what you wrote. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Your points are so on point sir that it is a pure pleasure to listen to them. Thank you for the clarity and keep putting the truth out there, we need it.

  7. You are a great person with so much compassion! I, too, hadn't thought of twitter that way. I suppose there are always people watching, perhaps in need. It's good if we can keep conscious of that. Thank you for your post (and tweets)!

  8. Dear Rich,

    How beautifully said...I, too, believe we can be touched profoundly by each others' lives on twitter, and my hope is that when we are away from our computers we can REALLY try to stay in a positive and healthy frame of mind to all with "live" faces we meet in our homes, the street, the grocery store, our places of work. How cool that we can learn from our twitter world ~ your post brought tears to my eyes, for this is my dream.

    With gratitude for who you are,

  9. Mr. Bassett,

    Thank you. I behoove you to get a back up cape after this!

    God Bless you and those surrounding you!