I have a love/hate relationship with social media, as I’m gathering most of us do. It’s such a bizarre little world, a fragmented bubble hardly representative of real life, and yet we place an obscene amount of importance on it. We invest so much energy, so much of our time on this very arbitrary form of connection.
On one hand I love how I am able to connect instantly with loved ones all around the world. How astounding is that? Bam! Instantaneous. We all hate waiting, and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a billion others make it easy for us impatient fools to have what we want right here, right now!
I genuinely love seeing photos of my friend’s children, their travels, hearing about their successes, funny anecdotes, odd memes, you name it. But being self-employed, attempting to market myself as a teacher and writer through my measly little Facebook page proves an odd challenge, one I find simultaneously meaningless yet strangely important in maintaining whatever business it is I’m running.
Facebook controls every element. Despite having a modest but somewhat successful following, only a small fraction of those who’ve ‘Liked’ my page are actually exposed to my posts. I cannot predict what times work best to post, whether photos are better than statuses, whether videos get more traction than other posts, who the hell is seeing my posts and why. It nauseates me to even think about this.
I decided months back to let go of any attachment to it. Whether 1 or 1000 people saw a post from me, I’d release something positive or informative into the digital universe regardless, hoping to add a little something to another’s day, to share a bit of me with the world. Perhaps it’ll bring another person to class, another reader to my articles, another connection to my microcosm.
Then I moved to LA. Everyone has a page, a website, a twitter, an instagram, you name it, they’ve got it. And they know their stats. There’s actually something called Rate Your Burn, where you can promote or criticize a teacher you’ve experienced, which has nothing to do with Yoga but everything to do with setting yourself apart and being ‘better’ than another.
Upon meeting some fellow teachers for the first time, one very boisterous and well-meaning girl speaks of a recent argument with her sister over not ‘Liking’ her statuses enough. Sigh....Seriously? It’s THAT important? I know it’s not to all, but given people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds are making their way to Facebook and other social media outlets, it points to a bizarre truth in how we are choosing to connect these days, through the screen of a computer even more than the eyes of another. And trivial as it all is, we value its feedback, we glean confidence and feelings of success and love over mere ‘Likes’.
But I am just as guilty. I quietly feel the need to post, to check in with feedback, to expose myself more and more in some attempt to be seen or heard. But why? I resisted social media for so long and then I succumbed so deeply that I now can hardly see a way out or back. I’ve felt disappointed, inadequate, unappealing and minor hurt when a piece I’ve expressed and exposed, however small or meaningless, gets little traction or feedback.
I have a relatively small amount of friends on Facebook, given the nature of most, so the ‘Likes’ I acquire on both my personal and professional pages are small in comparison to some others. It shouldn’t matter, but somehow those numbers have an effect on our brains. And so I began asking, “How many likes does it take to feel loved?”
Do I really have a few hundred friends, 2700 loyal students and readers? Of course not. Those numbers are so arbitrary, so transient, so feeble, so unpredictable. Why place my happiness, sense of success or feelings of worth in the hands of something so totally out of my control? Why compare myself in any way to the personal or professional feedback given to others? It is a fool’s errand.
Only those who know me well can truly provide feedback into my experience as a human being. Only those who actually read my work and take the time to carve a thoughtful response can provide some semblance of insight into the impact I may be having in that realm. Only students who’ve experienced my classes in person can supply me with genuine observations and responses so I may then determine how I’m resonating with my community.
Only through exchanges, bilateral connections, conversations, and pure energetic feedback can I feel real love. And only through my relationship with myself, my view of my place in this world, may I open to receiving the true love I hope I deserve. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are simply weird bubbles of chaos, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes poetic, and often times completely pointless.
No one can make me feel whole, full, or enough but Me.
No one can make me feel attractive, unattractive, appealing or unappealing but Me.
No one can motivate me to achieve authentic success and respect but Me.
My fellow humans are teachers, signposts for growth, inspiration, trust and Love. But people are merely a reflective experience of whatever’s happening within. And the digital universe carries only one iota of a percentage compared to real, in the flesh exchanges. The truth of the matter is, in life, and on the internet, people will like and dislike, ignore and adore at all times. It cannot be controlled and it should not matter. Social media should be used for fun, for humor, quick insights and information, as a means to connect and collaborate, but its influence should be minimal, limited to the superficial form it is.
It takes zero ‘Likes’ to feel truly loved.