Have we met in real life? How fortunate for me if I have had the chance to chat to you, dance with you, give you a hug, make eye contact, notice the way your mouth turns upwards at the corners and your eyes light up when you talk about something you are passionate about.
There is a huge chance that I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing all the wonders of connecting with you in person although we might know each other very well. Such is the nature of Social Media. So much is left out. In the absence of realness we fill in the gaps with our own perceptions, interpretations and judgment when we are reading through rants, scrolling through image after image and absorbing the barrage of chaos that leaps out at us tab after tab, screen after screen.
So how do we make sense of this all? This Social Media thing. How do we navigate it with soul and creativity while still staying sane and connected yet unplugged.
I recently had the misfortune of scrolling through a Facebook feed after so long away. To clarify, I have a Facebook feed blocker, it allows me to connect with my tribes in groups that have been counsciously created but I never have to read the oil spill, the environmental disaster that a Facebook feed has become. In just a few minutes I read updates from several Hoopers saying they couldn’t share hoop videos any more because they didn’t feel good enough, they couldn’t watch hoop videos anymore because it made them feel inadequate/jealous/upset.
I also got a message from a dear friend, a beautiful movement activist in her own right and she said
“The thing I struggle most with business wise is Social Media!! I really enjoy making content and have lots of ideas, And I’m all good when I’m just sharing a quick shot of a flower, my cat or the studio (and these posts usually get a good response). However when I’m sharing something I’ve put a lot of time, energy and love into I get totally sucked into that dopamine cycle and check my phone way too much to see how it’s being received – and it really dents my self-esteem when it gets way less likes than a photo of a plant that took me 2 seconds to post! This is magnified when my post is about an upcoming class or workshop and I actually need people to see it – and it feels like it sinks without a trace”
OK this Sunday Session could get long and it will be one of many about Social Media, I feel. As the years go by I watch us all get more and more invested in it, our time, money, personal data, connections and for many self-esteem is being absorbed so these conversations are really worth having.
Before I go on any kind of rant I have to say that Social Media has completely transformed my life. In fathomless ways. In return for all that I have created and offered up on Social Media I have made countless connections, endless true friends, oodles of beautifully dedicated hoop students, I have received millions of views, tens of thousands of students, hundreds of thousands of dollars, gazillions of love hearts popping up, many many thumbs down, a handful of haters, a few blocks, a couple of unfriendings and my fair share of unfollows. Endless life lessons, all through a screen. How can this be real?
I have made some pretty solid rules for myself. I have had to. More than a decade deep into this online world I had to get savvy if I didn’t want to get spat out.
Rule # 1 : Release all fixations on any results, responses, numbers or followers even though that is what we are being trained to do. Focus wholly and soulfully on creating and sharing something that makes you feel creative and inspired…or more importantly of helpful, loving service to others but place no weight on how many love/like/thumbs up it gets.
External validation is fleeting and fickle, deepening your love for your practice and what makes your life fulfilling is an ongoing journey you will always have.
So I want to go back to the second line of the message from my friend. She wrote “I really enjoy making content and have lots of ideas”
This. Let this be your guiding light. Many of us who are using Social Media to grow our business, promote our offerings or as a marketing platform have lost sight of the creative process and spend much of our time focussing on the end result. There is nothing wrong with having goals or watching analytics but what happens when that is the only beacon is that it saps all the joy and energy from the beauty of creation, we get so fixated on the results and expectations that we lose touch with the reasons why we want to share, how we want to help and what gifts we are providing to others.
Another huge reason not to pin your hopes, dreams and self-esteem on Social Media engagement is that the rules have changed, and most of us weren’t told, it is not a level playing field or a fair game. It is not as simple as “post something and they will come” There are many tricks and strategies required. If you are a small business with a small following, an even smaller percentage of your sweet little tribe is going to see what you post. It is not your fault, it is how the platforms are designed. There are so many more barriers these days so never let a number next to a love heart at the bottom of your post mess around with your self worth.
Rule # 2 Grant yourself full and complete permission to have limited screen time, to unfollow, unsubscribe, unfriend any page, account, newsletter that does not offer you creative inspiration or match with the vibrations you are cultivating in your life and your business. Shackles you have created, you have the phone, you have the computer, you got the key. Curate what you allow into your feed, your life, your mind.
If you are not enjoying a book, do you keep reading the book? If you are disturbed or offended by a movie do you keep watching to the end, then stalk the director, follow all of the actors and look at photos of the writer’s, cousin’s wedding? Probably not (unless that is your thing!) so why would you keep following anyone or profile that is not aligned with what you enjoy in life or is impacting how you feel about yourself.
It is like the “beauty mag effect” In my teens I bought a few girls fashion and lifestyle magazines, everyone was doing it. At first, I thought they were fabulous and the models were total perfection, lives filled with gorgeous material things, long legs and porcelain skin all the way through puberty. Then I started realizing every image looked the same, there were no creative voices, no wild women, messy artists, female activists, everything was just pretty and vanilla and nothing like my life or what I had hoped for it to be when I grew up. I realised they weren’t helping me to boost my self-esteem, they didn’t care how I felt they were painting unrealistic images of what life should be like, one type of life, a photo shoot type of life. I could have kept buying them and reading them always woefully wondering why my life, hair, waist, wardrobe wasn’t like their or I could simply never buy them again and look for more interesting and provocative role models who helped me to grow…so that is what I did.
Remember we always have a choice what rolls through our feeds (except for the ads, but that’s a whole other topic) . Be conscious of how it makes you shrink or grow.
Rule # 3 consciously and actively become aware of your full range of emotions when you spend time absorbing what you have allowed to scroll in front of your eyes. Take a step back from it all and see it for what it all really is.
If certain people or businesses that you follow or subscribe to do bring up emotions, comparisons, envy, upset. You have full permission to unfollow OR you can start to explore why those feelings are making themselves known. Are there areas of your life that feel unfulfilling? Do the images and videos remind you of unfinished projects or things you would like to achieve? Are there things that you know you have the potential to accomplish but you are holding back?
Unfollow those people anyway and then go do your thing! Seriously. Less time looking at things that annoy you and more time creating what you love is the answer.
And in a similar thread, in response to my friend’s message…less time worrying about the number of likes and more time connecting with your tribe in multiple ways that gets your message across and benefits you both.
Rule # 4 Most importantly never, ever, under any circumstances allow a video, comment, image posted by someone else stop you from sharing your art, moving your body, taking pleasure in living creatively. ✨
And always remember only you can do you and you do it so beautifully, keep doing that, keep being YOU.
This part is so easy to say and sometimes not that easy to do, we can get trapped, caught off guard. Here is my greatest tip : get so absorbed in creating wonder and beauty of your own to share with those you love and are connected with what you do that you have absolutely no time to be brought down by external factors or internal fears. No, I am not suggesting you overwork yourself, I am suggesting you embrace clarity, creativity and courage in everything you do.
Rule #5 Throw your phone in the toilet. No not literally…like that one time I may have been wildly intoxicated at a private Lady Gaga party in Tokyo, I had my phone tucked into my holographic lycra romper, as I danced into the loo and let everything hang out I heard a strange noise, one I had never heard before and never want to hear again, the sound of my iPhone swan diving into the toilet water. Of course, I summoned the help of every other lady in that bathroom for moral support and advice as I fished my soggy phone out of the s bend. It was too late, she was already well soaked. But the upside of that rather gross story was that I made a few new friends in the bathroom, and I experienced the whole night through my own eyes without distraction, not looking through a screen, not checking anything else or trying to capture wonky videos in the hopes of getting likes or showing people what a totally freakin fabulous life I had.
What I am trying to say is…put it down. Step away from it. Have you ever tried to play witness to your screen activity for a day or two? Counted how many times you pick it up? How many times you are distracted by a ping, buzz, beep or message? Become conscious or how many beautiful things you have missed because your head was down, eyes on the screen, emotions somewhere in the ether? Have you witnessed how you drag the emotions that just erupted via a screen interaction into your real life, and how that consumes the very precious real lifetime you have? Ever truly noticed the look on your partner’s face when you zombie scroll on your phone across from him or her at the restaurant table?
Throw your phone in the toilet. A lot.
Figuratively speaking of course!!