I must admit, the whole social media scene is not quite my thing. From the very start, I delayed and refused to participate. I find myself constantly struggling between wanting to stay in touch and the idea of how banal it can suddenly become.
In a previous blog I dived into my personal reflection on social media and offered suggestions to stay present as we go down the social media black hole. As part of my reflection, I decided to take on every one of my suggestions. I am happy to admit I succeeded and gained so much from it. As a matter of fact, I can honestly say my social media consumption will never be the same (and I am glad)!
Let me break it down. I joined years ago when I noticed the friends I grew up with back home were writing fewer and fewer emails and mentioning, without fail, how much I was missing out by not being “there”. So, I joined the world of social media… and I liked it! I suddenly felt closer to all of those I missed so dearly. I could see their beautiful faces enjoying life and it filled my heart with so much joy, so I eagerly stayed in touch online.
And for a few years, I stayed happily online. I discovered more interesting things such as the presence of social organizations that are dear to my heart, ways to keep informed with the current news (very helpful since I have not had cable for almost 10 years) and all those cool and insightful quotes! Beautiful pictures, inspiring meals and recommendations… you know what I’m talking about very well. Social media can be charming and it suited my busy life just fine.
Then I started realizing the toxic part: the not-so-nice comments and the shallowness of so many attention seekers. But most of all, I started considering the amount of time consumed by scrolling mindlessly and the level of addiction so easily developed. I started noticing how people talk, eat, drink, and “socialize” while on their phones. It was a wake up call because I refused to be them.
I decided to give myself a full week completely off of social media. I deleted the apps in my phone and experienced a sense of release, of being free of events, comments, likes, etc. I suddenly had less on my plate and I loved it! Since then, I admit I have been back but in a radically different way. I no longer have as part of my daily routine to check my account, I no longer scroll too long. I reduced my followings and decided whatever I missed I was supposed to miss and that will be OK because, plain and simple: I was elsewhere.
I feel as if I could close several tabs in my brain and that is exactly what I find myself seeking. I have since created my own social media rules: no more than 20 minutes a day, tops. No commenting on political rants (a personal struggle). And following more of the good stuff and less of the not so good. I have also continued to un-follow those who are eager to show their every single move and those who disagree with me on core moral values.
Simple! It has paid off so much. I have gone back to simply texting friends and sharing more pics and personal stories that way and have found it much better and more meaningful.
My main take on this topic and on my experience is a general one: when something does not feel right change it! We are the ultimate designer of our lives, we can create, redesign, rearrange as we please, our world, our rules. So make this digital era what works for you. And as practitioners of yoga and children’s mentors, we should strive to follow the Yamas and Niyamas as outlined by Patanjali thousands of years ago. Does your social media use follow these guidelines? If not, perhaps you should revisit your online habits.
· Ahimsa: nonviolence in word and deed
· Satya: truthfulness
· Asteya: non-stealing
· Brahmacharya: non-excess
· Aparigraha: non-greed
· Saucha: purity
· Santosha: contentment
· Tapas: self-discipline
· Svadhyaya; self-study
· Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender