When scrolling social media, distractions are as readily available as fast food french fries. And social media, like fast food, can be as toxic as it is available. It’s a fun tool to share with people but too often it pulls us from the present moment. The invaluable Thich Nhat Hanh writes in The Miracle of Mindfulness that you mustn’t do the dishes to have clean dishes; you should do the dishes to do the dishes. Every moment of life can can be lived with this fine-tuned attention to active presence. Even social media.
Social media platforms make me think of the Niyama (Niyama loosely translates as restraint), Asteya (non-stealing). How much do we steal from ourselves when we are distracted?
Thoughts of likes and retweets might get in the way of enjoying the present. It is as if social media has been designed so that we can project our desires onto something external rather than cultivating gentle introspection. It is what everyone else is doing, so we don’t have to think about what we are doing.
After 2 years of smartphone usage, I finally cracked for communication’s sake and put Facebook onto my phone. My yoga teacher training had formed a group that I wanted to be a part of. I made space on my drive and downloaded Messenger as well.
In one fell swoop I found myself with many more reasons to stare into my little screen. I already use social media for my own freelance enterprises and the messenger app was basically a new way to text the milieu of new people I had been meeting. There were so many new ways to occupy my time. It didn’t feel right, though, especially after being so immersed in printed and written forms of dialogue and philosophy discussion for the month during my teacher training.
I was so distracted, I felt like l was spending more time on social media than engaged in self study.
I decided to delete Facebook and Messenger off my phone and to focus on other more productive forms of self-care instead. That’s just what I have to do to not be overwhelmed. I only have so much willpower in a day.
The good news is that mindfulness can be brought into social media. Just like the dishes, with present attention, even posting can be mindful. Think, “I am posting this to post this because I desire to express myself this way. I am posting this to share with others and soothe my ego. I am posting this the gain empathy and support. I am posting this to support my brand.” These are all reasons to post on social media; let’s recognize what we are feeding ourselves.
We can post for ego validation, too! It is okay, but be mindful of your intent and recognize any attachment it might be creating.
Do you base any part of your self-worth on your online image?
Contributed by guest author, Nym, Yoga Teacher Training Alum