Social Media...It's A Trap!
The social media rapture is upon us. Really though. You know it, I know it, and here we are being consumed by a platform that is flooded with information as malnourishing as 'Maruchan' ramen noodles (you know the kind). You find yourself completely absorbed into the screen, lit up by an LCD glow that gives our facial features a hue of digital nausea. I am being dramatic but with good intention I promise. I aim to highlight the obsession and to show the reality of our habits. The funny part about our addiction to social media and smartphones is that we know we are addicted, we actually own up to it, talk about it and typically laugh about it. The scary part is that for a lot of us we don't actually do anything about it. The consciousness is there, we are missing a conscientious attitude, the effort to make a change.
It's similar to saying, "I drink too much, I don't get enough sleep, I am addicted to pain killers, I chain smoke...." and then moving away from the admittance and disregarding the very thing that might be having adverse effects on you. I find it amusing and also terrifying that our addiction to Instagram, snapchat, twitter and Facebook is so blatant. We don't hide it from our friends, or do it behind closed doors, in fact we do right in front of each other! It takes effort to engage in the community around you and it may seem easier to shut out the people in the postal line and in the lobby's and at the deli on the daily. We are face down in our addiction and because we all do it, it seems to be acceptable. Well...I don't believe it is something we should accept because it has become the norm. I don't believe our reputation should be based on likes and pokes and followers from anonymous accounts. I don't believe we should be comparing our butts and abs, lifestyles, friendships and careers to the millions of strangers we have yet to meet. I don't believe in living through someone else's success, relationships, weekends and addictions...
I do believe in self-help, bold confidence, cold-hard effort and doing it your own way. I believe in rocking your voice in a stream of thousands and soul representation behind filtered selfies. I believe in changing the norm.
These 4 practices have helped me develop a healthier relationship with social media...
1. Kill the judgment
Don't get me wrong I know what it is like to scroll through your feed and see the lifestyles and achievements and dream vacations and activists and educators and models and artists and designers and photographers who may be living the life that you desire. They may have every thing you have imagined and you compulsively ask yourself, 'why don't I have that? What did they do to deserve the opportunity, the praise, the bliss?!' I see global artists breaking barriers with their work and concepts, I see small business owners and jewelry designers with massive followings and people supporting themselves through their passions. I also see killer physiques and lovers entangled for the world to see. I have witnessed millennials living their lives in a seemingly extended sabbatical.
I get that. I understand that lust paired with questioning. It can be incredibly easy to compare yourselves with them and to judge them for their success. Instead of rolling your eyes and mumbling profanities, I ask you to practice saying: 'Good job, man, you figured it out, congratulations!' 'That photo is beautiful, I bet their loving Thailand,' 'They look so happy, good for them,' 'Damn! She finally got her dream job, incredible!' 'I cant wait until I can travel to a new country,' 'I love the creativity in his sculptures,' 'Wow, I love this company, I think I would enjoy working in this field,' or 'What an inspiring couple!'
I ask you to even comment and like those same photos that may have driven you to drink before. This support and encouragement is cyclical, your opportunity is out there too. You may even make a connection through this powerful platform of connectivity.
2. Strive for Individuality Not Popularity
It's 2016 and everybody is uncovering their brand, searching for their unique representation and social media makes it possible to develop an online persona. For many people Instagram can be a launching point for your career. How brilliant! I would never discourage anyone from tapping into a potential resource to build your career and your passions, I would only suggest that you make sure to tap into your truth along the way. Align your priorities before you start building something...as we all now, once its out there, in the cloud, seen by many, you can't take it away.
Be honest with your representation and your reality. Get creative with your angles, and what you share with people. Use this platform for positivity or humor or gut wrenching honesty and expression. Tell your story in a new way, I promise you someone will react...whether you have an audience of 500 or 5 million.
Find inspiration in what may appear at first as envy. Instagram is the main topic here because right now it is the leading social media site in the world. So, because it is a completely visual experience we are consumed by it in a sensory way and therefore it holds great power. Instead of letting it hold power over you, take the intrigue from each photo or idea depicted and dig deep for the inspiration. What attracts you to the subject or the message?
Now, how can you incorporate these ideas and possibilities into your very own life. It is not about magical thinking, it is all creative application and I believe in this to be a powerful tool as a millennial. Our resources are abundant and our access to knowledge is unlike any other generation before us. Instagram can give you the answers and the options you have been looking for. I will never forget the light bulb moment when I realized I could actually start recording and manifesting the very lifestyles I was drooling over. I could learn from the jewelry designers and understand their brand, their selling points, their impactful photography. I see a beautiful body online and then go out and sweat and stretch in my own body. I started to see the dialogue between people that were connecting over National Geographic images and witness cultural conversations about politics and women's rights issues and friends around the world who were making s*** happen. Every time I look at something I innately desired I asked myself what it is that I really wanted? Was it shallow or deep? Was it attainable or impossible? Could I start small and build my work and my writing and my career and my life and hobbies into what these people are doing? I now unplug feeling inspired not deflated. Being motivated by our online communities that keep the world visually bound is an elevated feeling of hope. I now feel unbelievably positive about my experience after acknowledging what it was I was really searching for.
4. Step Away from the Screen
After checking into your accounts and double tapping your way to sufficient inspiration, step away from the screen and go create the content in your reality, right now! Take control of your experience and awaken to the world happening beyond the screen. Digital storytelling is one thing, tactile touch and experience is where it begins. Balance your screen time with action oriented work and reflection. I promise your desire to zombie out on the big screens and the little ones will diminish quickly, your mind and spirit will thank you. Get nourished bro.
Trust me, you will glow after this practice. I mean a real southern California day-glow! Get out there and live in real time...It's pretty freaking awesome if you look up and pay attention. ▣