Social media. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you: can’t live with it, can’t live without it. I have also mindlessly, willingly succumb. Not long ago, there were mornings when I got out of bed just to check on how many likes or new followers I got overnight, letting that little dopamine rush precede even coffee. I had to go cold turkey on that account, as at the time I felt there was no ‘middle way.’
How to handle this, without totally cutting yourself off from friends, from platforms that you might also benefit from? My solution does not have to do with deleting apps or going on social media ‘diets’ but rather accepting the technology for what it is, while not playing into its hands and pandering for validation and likes.
That’s why, every now and again, I will post a photo on Instagram that’s of, say, a shrub, or a random tree. Something unsensational, that exists on its own quiet merits, that will not draw attention in the form of likes and comments. The goal is to cultivate a slow insta, that’s aimed not at creating an online ‘persona’ but rather an appreciation of commonplace things that aren’t necessarily likable (I’ve been hashtagging such posts #slowinsta, and while I thought I was being clever, it seems that hashtag is already a thing).
That is the easy part; the real work comes with sitting with feelings that accompany a low-impact post. If you get no or little reaction, can you take that feeling of perhaps insecurity, or anxiety, or rejection, and recognize it for what it is? If a post gets no likes, does it threaten your identity? And if so, what about your identity are you clinging to? Can you sit with what’s behind that feeling, which is after all, ephemeral, and actually groundless, and befriend it?
For more mindfulness techniques and exercises, look here.