Recently as I was scrolling through my endless feed of 'news' on social media I began to re-evaluate my relationship with these powerful, yet often underestimated tools. My own personal relationship with social media is a bit of a paradox as I see both positive and negative outcomes. Sure, I respect all the positive advancements technology can offer and the ability to connect with one another (Raise Your Beat wouldn't be here without it!) but I am also a bit of a skeptic. With history as proof, humans have survived for thousands of years prior without technology, and some to this day still do. I believe that our society would continue to thrive without technology...of course, in different ways than the ways our modern culture is fast tracked today.
However, as we approach 2015, I am certain technology is here to stay. This means those of us who want to enjoy the benefits without abusing it, must step back, re-evaluate and become more aware of the effects of technology - in particular, social media. With the ability to post, like, share and browse an infinite amount of content, it important to recognize when social media becomes overwhelming and has a negative impact. Technology in general over-stimulates the mind and can become unhealthy when/if it takes over our precious time, energy and space.
We live in an exciting time with the presence of accessible communication tools (such as social media) as each user is provided their own “platform” and has the power to share and create their own online communities, networks and opportunities. However, with this power, we each have a responsibility to use social media and technology with intention and purpose if we are looking to find a healthy balance between 'reality' and 'virtual reality'.
Here are three simple things to keep in mind if you hope to use social media with more intention.
Choose worthy sites and friends to follow who share useful and inspiring information (funny is also in this category, never under estimate the power of laughter!)
Realize that while our words are powerful, our actions will always speak louder. And yes, I am talking about virtual actions as well - what you surround yourself with can brighten and enlighten your day or convey a negative or hurtful message. Simply clear your news feed and unfollow users who don't leave you with a positive feeling. Instead follow people, businesses and networks who are like-minded and can act as 'online mentors'. If you can't imagine yourself meeting this user for coffee, than you may want to rethink why it is you are following them.
Make your social media presence positive
Use social media to educate and invoke passion in the causes you support and believe in. As my teacher says 'Be unique and be bizarre. We are all born originals, don't die a copy'. Be the black sheep (even if all your friends are posting party photos). Go ahead, share a valid piece of information, promote a friends up and coming project and be creative with your own words and images. Don't give into social pressure by liking or sharing something that isn't helpful, positive, useful or genuine. Recognize that we are blessed with this human existence and have the power to read, educate and change the world in which we live in. Read, write, post and share with the same intention and purpose as you would start your day or start your yoga practice.
Understand that there are times when social media (and technology) is not beneficial and it is more important to log off completely. Give priority to personal connection, always. Even if it is with a cashier in the grocery store. Make eye contact, exchanging words and share a smile. Trust me, it goes a lot longer than any like ever will. Even if you don't find yourself over-using social media, give yourself a healthy detox from time to time. Get lost in your own reality and send this newly acquired time wrapped up in conversation with friends to ignite your mind, in the kitchen satisfying your body or in nature soothing your soul. Do this as often as you feel you can. Start with simple efforts such as no 'technology at the table' or try putting your phone on airplane or silent mode. Begin to shift the habit of mindlessly checking and un-train your brain to respond to the sounds of your smartphone notification tones. Slowly build up the time you spend away from technology all together - you may be surprised at how easy it becomes once you mentally 'log-off' and realize the amount of life and beauty that it taking place every moment all around you.
Finding balance is always the key to success and fulfillment.
Make note of how social media effects you and what its influence is. Give yourself plenty of time offline and in nature as often as you can. And remember as Nelson Mandela said ''Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.''
LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here