Unless you've been living under a rock, you know what social media is. I'd go as far as to say that even the rock dwellers have heard of Facebook. No, this is not going to be a post about whether we should boycott Facebook and other social media outlets due to recent news. That's a topic for a heated family discussion over Thanksgiving dinner.
Instead I want to touch on how we engage in social media. Before I launch into this topic, I know that there are people out there (my husband included) who have chosen to NOT be on any social media. I used to think these people were nuts. Now I am beginning to think they are the brightest of us all.
I opened my Facebook account in 2007 when my eldest son was just a baby. It was a way to connect with family and friends, and post photos of my son, whom I thought (as all young parents do) was the sweetest, cutest and smartest child in the universe. It was an added bonus to be able to search people from my past to see how they've aged. (Don't act as though you've never done it!)
My family and friends would often "like" or comment on my photos, which validated my feelings that my baby was the sweetest, cutest and smartest. At least, it made my heart swell to see the "likes" and I enjoyed clicking the little "like" button when I came upon photos, status updates and other tidbits from my friends.
Then Instagram came along. I was resistant to it at first because I didn't understand how it worked. I joined IG just for the cool filters and took photos of flowers in my garden. I had no idea what a hashtag was nor how to use it. Fast-forward a couple years and I became a yoga teacher. Not understanding the IG world, I happened to post a photo of me in an arm-balance...and lo and behold, several random people "liked" it. I was confused. Who were these people and why did they suddenly want to follow me?
As I grew my small business as a yoga teacher, I recognized the power of social media. It is actually a necessity in my industry. So I began posting more frequently. I actively searched for posts by like-minded people. I even became one of those people who would "like" someone else's post without knowing them. And then I fell into the rabbit hole of wasting hours on IG, hoping my posts were entertaining, or informative, or whatever, to the masses.
Of course, studies have now shown there is a correlation between our dopamine and oxytocin levels and social media use. Dopamine helps to control the brain's pleasure and reward centers. Oxytocin is often called the "cuddle" or "love" hormone and regulates social interaction and sexual reproduction. It plays a role in maternal-infant bonding especially in breastfeeding, and is also linked to generosity. Bottom line, the more our posts are viewed or liked, the more we feel good. And the more we crave these positive feelings, the more time we waste staring at a screen.
This is how we get addicted to social media. I'm just as guilty as the next person when it comes to spending too much time scrolling on my phone. But, I'm getting better. I continue to enjoy the exchange of free information and entertainment that social media provides. I still post daily, often sharing how-to videos on poses and thoughts on yogic teachings, but instead of incessantly checking my phone, I dedicate time to do so. I even encourage my kids to call me out if they notice I'm on my phone too much.
Since digging myself out of the rabbit hole, I am no longer attached to "likes." In fact, some members of my own family don't even "like" my posts. I mean, maybe they appreciate them, but they just don't click the button. Or maybe, they flat-out don't like what I'm posting. Here's the thing: it doesn't matter.
I want to remain authentic on social media. I'm not airbrushed or spray-tanned. While I have some professional yoga photos, they don't consume my page. I post failures as well as successes (check out my previous blog on IG fakery when it comes to perfect handstands and other yoga poses). My insta-stories are generally of my family, my meals and my personal yoga practice. My approach to social media is to use it as an avenue for content. If my followers enjoy my content, they'll stick around. If not, they'll unfollow me. I do not post content to GET followers - that's why you won't see a slick photo of me posing in a racy swimsuit. As the kids say, "that's not my jam." But being real IS..., "like" it or not.