Social Media the Authentic Way
Earlier this summer, I was perusing facebook somewhat mindlessly, when I came across a post from a Yoga teacher friend of mine, Hanna Naegle from Yoga Collective. Her post stood out to me among the noise and videos that fill my feed on a daily basis. It stood out because it was vulnerable, not polished or overly put together yet it was still thoughtful and authentic. Here is what she said:
I’ve been thinking a lot about social media. In many ways it seems to have become a mask that people are wearing – posting things to create a certain image about themselves and their lives and getting satisfaction and approval from “likes” and double-click hearts. I am not against social media and I think it has so many great uses. And I’m by no means against whatever you have recently posted. I’ll probably “like” many of them and hope that you “like” the next yoga photo i post 😉 I am simply curious if there is a place for raw-ness, for authentic connection in social media. So I’d like to make one. A place for raw vulnerability and honesty about myself and my life.
I’m 26 and I live in my mom’s basement. And it works for me haha. My mom is pretty awesome. I am a yoga studio manager and yoga teacher. And while I love my job, most days I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m about to start an advanced yoga teacher training in Tucson and I’m scared of who I will be at the end of it. But more so, I’m scared that I don’t belong there in the first place. I am real-life officially (and not facebook officially) dating a great guy who makes me laugh. I’m not very organized. I’m terrible with directions. And I cry frequently – not as much as I laugh. I’m distracted most of the time, especially if there are large birds around. I do a lot of online shopping. And today I actually wondered how many consecutive days one could use dry shampoo before it becomes a problem…
Realness. Rawness. Honesty. Respect.
The post was inspiring to me and it reminded me a lot of the Hanna you’d meet in person.
Which got me thinking, yoga instructors make themselves vulnerable every time they get in front of a class, sharing their themes, sharing the teachings of yoga and essentially sharing pieces of themselves with their students. How then can that be translated into the digital world and should it be? *note: I don’t have the answer
Social media brings up a lot of weird feelings for people: FOMO (fear of missing out), jealousy, judgment, fear of being judged, then of course there are those terribly awkward facebook debates.
A couple years ago, I was watching the Miss America interview portion (don’t judge- it’s the best part). The question asked of one contestant was something like this: “Do you agree, as a recent New York Times story suggested, that since the rise in social media use “narcissim is an epidemic” and America’s youth today are turning into a “hyper-entitled, self-absorbed generation”?
Interesting… it certainly made me think. Yes, social media can be used to perpetuate narcissism and has been used to make people insta-famous or insta-in-famous but I do think it can also be used to connect people in a real and powerful way.
Here is how I have come to think of social media:
Social media is not inherently good or bad. It is simply a tool- a tool for us to use in our own imperfectly human way to show up and use our voice. It can be used for selfish reasons, for hateful reasons, for misguided reasons but it can also be used as a platform to connect with relatives across the world, as a platform for artists, actors and musicians to reach a larger audience, it can be used to give people a voice.
So, back to that possibility Hanna proposed. Let’s use this powerful tool we have at our fingertips to create a place for raw-ness and authentic connection in social media, a place for vulnerability and honesty about our lives. For me, that means looking not only at the way we create content digitally but also in the way that we consume it.
Here are a couple practices that have helped me in the yoga world that I think can also be applied to the digital world:
- Detachment: Try not to take anything personally. Not everyone will like or “like” every picture you post or what you have to say– and that is OK. After posting a photo to instagram, put your phone down, walk away and get back to life.
- Satya (truth): Practice speaking and trusting your truth in a way that is not harmful to others (ahimsa). It takes courage to say what you mean. I’ve talked to a lot of yoga instructors who are hesitant to share themselves on Social Media for fear of misrepresenting themselves or coming off as too promotional. I get it, I do, but I love hearing from you. Be brave. Use your voice. Say something meaningful, cause ripples.
- Generosity: Share what inspires you with others- there are so many incredible things happening out there. Share what you love with the world. Here are a few ATL people in the digital world who inspire me:
Jenn Song: She’s not a yoga instructor- but she is a great example of someone who is so authentic and real over social media you feel like you are with her in person (*note: she met her husband over instagram!)
Being intentional with the way we create and share content is important, but I think it is equally important to be mindful of the way that we consume content as well. Here are a few practices I’ve been trying out:
- Detachment: When I notice myself feeling FOMO, jealousy, judgment or unworthiness, I’ve been trying to take a breath, observe those feelings without judgment and examine them from a place of curiosity. Maybe my FOMO really means I miss my friend and I should give them a call? Maybe my jealousy is actually someone else inspiring me to try something bold? It’s a hard practice but I do believe that some of these awkward and uncomfortable feelings could be pointing us to where we are meant to go if we listen. If those feelings don’t serve you at all, try just letting them go.
- Digital detox. If you feel like you are spending too much time in the digital world, take a break. Just as it’s good to detox and cleanse your body, it’s equally if not more important to detox and purify your mind. I’m really good at “accidentally” leaving my phone behind on the weekends- it can be liberating.
- Contentment: practice happiness for others successes while also practicing contentment for where you are on your path.
I certainly don’t have these practices down and am still very much a work in progress. I suffer from FOMO and feelings of facebook-ickiness as much as the next person. If the digital world isn’t for you- don’t sweat it- I’ll see you at the coffee shop. But, I also share the hope that through mindfulness and vulnerability we can create and hold space for each other to be real, not perfect, in life as well as digitally.