It’s 11:00 a.m., and I have deliberately stayed off social media for the morning.
I’m feeling good—you know, just cruising happily along answering emails, running my business—that sort of thing.
And then I hop on a call with a client in California. It’s 8:00 a.m. out there, so her day is just starting. When I ask how she’s doing, there’s a long pause, and then a sigh.
Instinctively I think, “Oh sh*t, what’s happened now?”
I don’t think this for her, but rather for the world—or more specifically, for our country.
As it turns out, it was the first morning of the California wildfire’s decimating march. And while my client was safe in Santa Barbara, many of her friends had posted about their evacuation from Napa and Sonoma.
As she said, her heart was broken open for them.
And in that moment, an awareness dawned: I myself, nestled safely away in my Rhode Island bubble and having no contact with the world beyond the school drop-off route, had been happily going about my own life.
My client, in her Santa Barbara bubble, would have been happily going about her life as well. Except for the fact that social media co-opted her energy.
Let me say that again, because it’s the entire point of this article: social media co-opted her energy.
Co-opt: [koh-opt] To assimilate, take, or win over into a larger or established group.
I want to be clear that I’m not talking about the amount of time we spend on social media. Plenty has been said about that (and I do hope we’re all listening).
Instead, I’m talking about our vital, core energy. Our thoughts. Our feelings. Our mental, emotional, and spiritual energy.
Social media steals those things—our very essence—by hijacking them every single time we log on.
Certainly, the news does this. And gossip. And TV shows and books. But never, ever, has there been the constant barrage of co-opting that there is now.
How Fear is Co-opting our Energy
The mechanism for this, first and foremost, is fear.
With the incredible sh*t-storm of craziness that has been 2017, the amount of fear that has been triggered in our collective system is in overdrive. From the hurricanes, to the shootings, to the deportations, to the revocation of equal rights, to the shameless neo-Nazi propagation, to the sexual harassment and assaults, our collective fight or flight response has been on constant red alert.
Oh my word, I’m exhausted just writing that statement.
And here’s the kicker; even when those things haven’t applied directly to us, we still absorb the energy because we are constantly plugged in to the fear of others.
We are no longer just coping with our own thoughts and feelings, which would be challenging enough given the ceaseless bombardment of natural and human-made disasters. We are also dealing with an empathic hangover bigger than any of us know what to do with.
The empaths reading this (if any of you have the energy left to read!) know exactly what I’m talking about. But even if you don’t identify as an empath, surely your ability to empathize deeply with each new group of “victims” has been dramatically reduced since the turn of this whirlwind of a year. And that makes complete sense—every time we turn on our social media this year, we are faced with yet another, “Oh sh*t, what’s happened now?”
There is, in fact, some good news amidst all of this fire and brimstone.
Leonard Cohen’s lyric state it perfectly: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” This, where we find ourselves now, is the place where light gets in.
How do we do that? By putting our own damned oxygen mask on. And then putting it on again. And again.
Here’s three steps for taking care of ourselves in the era of social media tragedy:
Stop making excuses not to do this. Because every time we plug in—every time we check our social media—we rip that oxygen mask back off. We breathe in the toxin. Deliberately, consciously, decide not to check social media. If we limit it to five percent of our waking hours, we get a huge 48 minutes to get up on the critical information we can’t live without. Remember, it’s all co-opting our energy. Choose wisely.
2. Fill the Well.
Do things that make us feel good—happy, even. Preferably healthy things. Watch a comedy, paint, go dancing, read an uplifting book, watch babies laugh on YouTube. Whatever works for us, do that. Every day.
3. Notice our energy.
Choose not to let it get co-opted—by social media or by the other things in our life. Our thoughts, feelings, and actions are completely our own. Be a deliberate leader of them. Is our energy contained, or is it seeping out across the country or the world? Is it here with us now, or is it leaking backward in time to regrets? Or perhaps forward in time to worries or fears? Has someone else’s energy entered our field? Do we want it there? We are the only one who gets to choose what happens in our energy field. Start being conscious of it throughout your day, and decide to use it in ways that serve the highest good.
Take Drastic Measures
Drastic times call for drastic measures. For many of us, we are tapped into the energy of what’s happening but find ourselves unable to take significant action (aside from supporting each other on social media).
When this is our reality, we end up squandering our vital energy. We provide small benefit with our “likes” and “comments,” all while taking ourselves down through the unconscious co-opting that’s occurring with each new post we read.
If this sounds familiar, I urge you—no, I beg you—to consider this this self-care list as your personal drastic measure.
We need you strong. We need you powerful. We need you emanating your light. We need you capable and full and loving as you show up in your family, your job, your community.
We can’t afford to lose the bright spark of you as an ally in this brave new world.
This is indeed the place for the light to come in; into you and into the collective.
Author: Julianna Ricci
Image: Raw Pixel/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Travis May