Hi, my name is Erin and I’m a social media addict.
I wasn’t always this way, you know. I was pretty late on the Facebook scene, worried it was just another Myspace cesspool (I was officially done with the latter when “Are you on Myspace?” became the new pickup line at bars. Dreadful.) I used to turn off my cell phone and leave it off for days, much to the dismay of my boyfriend, family and friends. They would get annoyed if they couldn’t reach me, and then understandably worried when I was still unresponsive days later. But there was just something so liberating about being off the grid. Unreachable, untouchable…free.
Somewhere along the way, though, something changed. I’ll blame the late Steve Jobs. After my first iPhone purchase when texts, email, Facebook, Safari, Google, YouTube, Shazam and every other app you could dream up landed within fingers’ reach, something switched on in me. I had the world and I had it now! In my hands and at all times. I was connected, I was in, and I couldn’t stop. My love affair with social media blossomed.
This past year I launched my own website and blog for my nutrition business. My husband is in web design and does a lot with branding. He strongly encouraged me to get a Twitter account and start promoting my blogs through that forum. Soon I found myself with a whole other set of social media outlets – one for my private life, one for my business. A separate Facebook account, Twitter, Pinterest. When I discovered Instagram it was all over. #instaaddict! This nonstop and constant stimulation is hard to turn off. I find it’s much harder than before to be quiet, to sit still. Everything becomes a multitask. I sit down to check an email, and I end up checking FB accounts and blogrolls. I find myself scrolling through Pinterest while watching TV or standing in line at the bank. It’s like I can’t ever be fully engaged in one thing. It’s like I can’t be still.
We all know social media can be great. It can be an awesome way to connect to and stay in touch with people. That long-lost kid from middle school? Yeah, I’m friends with him on Facebook. I get to see up-to-date photos of my little cousins and my friends’ children. I’ve chatted with people in other countries on discussion boards. Social media can be a tool for exploring and learning. I’ve discovered lots of websites and blogs through Pinterest and Instagram. Twitter has opened my eyes to some really cool & informative articles and videos that I would not have otherwise seen. It’s a great avenue for sharing and advertising.
I think the problem is when our social media “interaction” replaces actual human contact. When being so entrenched in our computer or phone keeps us from living in the present moment. In the age of reality TV celebrities, YouTube sensations and Facebook check-ins, our obsession with social media begs the question: are we living our lives just to be put on display? Spending time with friends taking pictures with the sole purpose of posting them on Facebook for others to see, rather than engaging with those friends. Sitting in front of a sunrise with your nose in your phone posting to Instagram, rather than actually watching the sunrise. It’s like the opposite of living in the present moment.
Living in the moment, staying present is what we teach in yoga. This social media bonanza seems to be the antithesis of this. So what’s a yogi to do in this day and age? How do I successfully run and promote a business, stay connected with what’s going on out there, but also stay grounded and connected to my own self?
My answer to this dilemma – and to most dilemmas, really – is this: do more yoga. To be present on the mat. Find stillness on the mat. Away from Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest. Take no pictures, post no pictures. Turn off all the racket and the noise and find your own small piece of quiet solitude, away from the phone and the computer. Be less concerned with connecting with the web, and reconnect with yourself. Make mat time YOUR time.
“The great error of this age is that activity has increased so much that there is little margin left in one’s everyday life for repose. Repose is the secret of all contemplation and meditation, the secret of getting in tune with that aspect of life which is the essence of all things. When one is not accustomed to take repose, one does not know what is behind one’s being.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan
I can’t disengage entirely from social media. But what I can do is create space for repose.