Social media makes me feel like a stranger in a strange land.
It’s hard to tell fact from fiction when scrolling through the the murky swamps of Facebook or Instagram. “What are these people actually like?” I often wonder. Is this all just a smoke screen—a mask to cover our true face?
It is hard to know what’s real and what isn’t—so we tend to just succumb to the projections of social media and save the questions for another time. The digital world becomes the real world.
All that being said, I do use social media, and I try to use it well. I have a Facebook account and use it to leverage my content—allowing my voice to be heard over the white noise of modern culture. No matter what we think of the wild world of the online interface, it is here to stay. It becomes our responsibility to use it wisely and know our limits.
If we are using it as a crutch to deal with our problems—which many of us are—we have to be ready and able to take a break from our online escapades and detoxify ourselves from the infinite stream of content of social media.
Speaking of knowing our limits online—I found mine recently. I decided to start an Instagram account, in hopes that I’d be able to reach a wider audience with my writing and videos. Oof…it wasn’t a good fit.
I’ve been encouraged to get “an Insta” (as the kids say) for a long time. Everyone says it’s the best form of social media, at least for certain things. It’s probably the most fun and interactive. We could add the most addictive to boot.
A couple years ago, I read a little book called Amusing Ourselves To Death by Neil Postman. It’s about how the decreasing attention span that modern media upholds is decreasing the bandwidth of our consciousness, causing us to think less clearly and live more on the surface level of things.
“Together, this new ensemble of electronic techniques called into being a new world—a peek-a-boo world, where now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, then vanishes again. It is a world without much coherence or sense; a world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything; a world that is, like the child’s game of peek-a-boo, entirely self-contained. But like peek-a-boo, it is also endlessly entertaining.” ~ Neil Postman
After I set up my Instagram, I found myself checking it far more than I was comfortable with. It was almost like watching a kind of drama—a deluded form of entertainment—where instead of watching characters on a show, I was watching real-life characters that never seemed to take off their costumes. Everything is fast-paced, as shorter and shorter windows of time to take in information become more and more normalized. I found myself getting lost in it, and I really didn’t like that feeling.
What I’ve been trying to do lately is get in touch with my body, feeling the energetic pulse of my cells, tissues, and membranes—and being consciously aware of that sensation. I want to connect the mind and the body, being completely immersed in my living breathing experience—instead of being stuck in my head all the time.
I think social media enhances this feeling of being “stuck in the head.”
Anyway, I didn’t like how Instagram made me feel in my body and soul, so I immediately deleted it. That was my experience—I’m not saying people should delete their Instagram accounts, or that people who use it are shallow.
I am trying to encourage us to always consider the effect that social media is having on our consciousness and really sense whether it’s having a positive or negative impact on how we think and act. These changes happen quickly. We have to be mindful if we’re going to avoid these traps which take us further and further away from our body and the present moment.
Again, I use Facebook. I like using it to share my content, but I am always trying to be aware of when I cross the line into compulsion. I check it more than I need to, and I’m working on that. As I connect more with what’s happening within myself, my relationship with the outside stuff begins to improve. The more in tune I am with my body, the more control I have over my life.
If nothing else, we should all take time away from our social media when we have a chance (and trust me, we do have the chance). Breathe in some fresh air. Take a walk in the woods without feeling the need to snap a photo, for godsakes. Be free of that compulsion for a little while and see how it feels. Meditate. Read.
Let’s engage in activities that expand our attention, rather than condensing and contracting us. We’d all benefit from being a bit more in connection with what’s actually happening in our lives and in ourselves, the real drama of our actual existence, instead of playing a character in accordance with other people’s perceptions of us.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Unsplash/Nitish Meena
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron