After quitting Instagram…….
I survived 3 months without Instagram!
I signed out of my account, and didn’t look back. It was interesting. For the first couple of days I almost felt like something was missing. I guess similar to when a really close friend, someone you might talk to regularly during the week, goes away, or isn’t contactable, the feeling of you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone (Joni Mitchell never lies)
But then something interesting happened…..I started getting phone calls and messages from people that had nothing to do with my social media accounts. These calls were from friends and work colleagues I hadn’t connected with for a while, and as mysterious as synchronicity is, only 24hrs after signing out of my Instagram account, I started to experience connection in a real way again. Hearing someone’s voice, getting a message in real time, and it has continued.
In our social media driven world, we are encouraged to create persona’s online, rather then present our daggy, real experience of self. There are hundreds of jobs on Seek advertising for Social Media Marketing Professionals. These positions put an ‘expert’ in creating an image for a company, well, usually a company, or anything building a brand. But only recently, I found out that regular people, like you and me, have these experts create the content on their account! I was shocked. I thought the content I was reading was a personal revelation of the individual, not a carefully crafted creation of days and times and ways to keep in line with the branding of the self. This is where for me the illusion of a platform like Instagram can be deceiving. For instance, your favourite yoga teacher posts a perfectly lovely shot of them in a yoga pose with some wisdom and insight. In the comments there are oohs and aahhhhs of how profound the message is. Yet, you go to this teachers class, and none of the persona or insights they are expressing through their Instagram profile seems to come across in their teachings?! How does this add up? Why would we have someone else create something that is meant to represent the essence of who we are, not who we want to be in a packaged and perfected way.
The rise in social media has also contributed to social anxiety. Not only are we comparing or maybe even competing with these online persona’s, but it can also contribute to anxiety around communicating face to face with people. How many times have you been in your favourite cafe and observed others sitting with people, but both of them are on their mobile phones?! I wonder if that pregnant pause between topics they were discussing, that moment of feeling uncomfortable around a topic or news they were sharing or receiving (face to face) lead to the habit of reaching for the phone to disconnect with what was happening right in front of them.
The current trend in our lives seems to be knowing everything about everyone, without actually finding out from the person the news is about. We scroll through our feeds, noticing what everyone is up to, including the perception of popularity that we are aware of through how many likes a post has received. We catch up with our friends and instead of asking what has been happening, we launch into what we have seen or heard on our feeds, making presumptions about others lives and convincing each other that we are up to something fun by checking into every place we visit along with a photo and some hashtags, so even strangers can let us know they like what we are doing.
Stepping away from my Insta scroll addiction has given me more time to read books that are nourishing and encouraging of my Sadhana, spiritual practices. Yes, there is lots of great wisdom and encouragement on social media platforms, but these are being offered through a lens of achieving attention. When you delve back into the real wisdom of the teachers from long ago, their intention wasn’t to reveal something in order for it to be liked or approved, they were transmuting real teachings that were coming through them, via their dedication to their spiritual practice.
Quitting Instagram has reaffirmed my intention to give more time to my spiritual practices. I have so many habitual ways of being in the world that continue to draw me into over identifying with a perception of life that is filtered through programming. This program within I find is reaffirmed via the content that a platform like Instagram can offer – Be More – Have More – Travel More – More – More – More. These experiences are valid and valuable, yet a lot of the time, after the experience has been bought or had, we realise that our thirst for MORE is never ending. I really choose to make a conscious effort to get off that train of MORE. What I need more of is stillness, contemplation, directing my energy towards the message that is true for me. Some of these offerings may not be in alignment with the ‘social norm’ yet, if I reduce my engagement with the social media norm, and actually meet people, face to face, without my presumptions about them and their ‘insta-fame’ then I realise that we are all the same. I choose to not continue to distort my image of someone through how they come across on their social media platform, as a lot of the time, this is not aligned with the truth of who they are, or the fact that each day, each moment, our experience of ourselves continues to change.
Another thing about our Social Media use is that it constantly interrupts us. It turns us into a flurry of multi-taskers, and when we multi-task, we lose immense energy towards the task that matters most, or needs our undivided attention. How many of us are guilty of checking our social media last thing before we sleep, or even first thing in the morning? Quitting just one of these accounts could allow a more restful sleep, and install new habits that will work on increasing your self worth, beyond the popularity of the social platform.
If you decide to detox from your social media usage, take it day by day. Notice what is happening in those moments that you want to check your feed, see if instead focusing on your breath, getting present to the sensations in your body, witnessing what is happening in your thoughts, would be more useful then scrolling.
The wise master Lao Tzu tells us:
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
Sunday 9th July I will be holding a Day Yoga Retreat which will have an afternoon session on Mindfulness, techniques to use everyday to assist the development of Shakshin, or your inner witness. Click the link below for all bookings: