Social Media Isn't The Problem, It's the Symptom
The detriments of social media are a mainstream topic. It’s the fishbowl effect, where people are watching you 24/7. We worry about the kids who grew up with smartphones and center their lives around what people on a free app think about them.
I think we’re missing something fundamental here. Of course, social media can exacerbate anxiety by making people’s lives more public and creating pressure to look a certain way. However, this has always been true. Societal expectations have existed throughout human history, and stories of people not conforming have been around just as long. Social media simply makes this more glaring.
Photos, videos and even journal entries have now become readily available to the public. We hope that people will like what they see and read. What if this is the way people wake up and see we are always conforming to society’s expectations of us? What if social media is the tipping point to help us understand that we don’t need to be or do anything we don’t want to?
I decided a few months ago that I was going to focus on my inner world and make it as beautiful as I portrayed it to everyone else. As I’ve gotten happier and found more peace within myself, I have noticed that I would rather not post much on social media. The few times I have, anxiety flooded through my body, and I felt myself cling to my idealized outward version of myself. Almost instantly, I felt like I was shoving my spirit into a box.
This box holds a person that gets a ton of likes, has perfectly curated photos and is always having fun. In all honesty, I’d rather have fun in real life, experience my genuine emotions without shame and be at peace with myself rather than beg people to like who they think I am.
In making a choice to focus on your inner world, you immediately exit the rat race. The distractions from your purpose, true nature and soul begin to take a back seat to the things that make your heart sing. You will find out who you are without your appearance, likes, dislikes and societal standards. You will see the soul you came to Earth with, what it wants and the path it was meant to take.
I decided that any time I wanted to go somewhere for an Instagram photo, I was going to meditate and then determine if it was something that would make my soul happy rather than my followers.
Your writing will never be perfect by someone else’s standard. Your appearance will never be perfect by someone else’s standard. Your posts will never be perfect by someone else’s standard. Those standards are literally none of your business. You have one job, and that is to follow the arrow of your soul, wherever it points and whatever it points to.
Once you honor your inner world, providing your mind with what it truly wants, doors begin to open and shifts take place. For instance, I had a rule that I never wore florals, I thought they didn’t mesh with my image. Deeper into my journey, I kept feeling flower energy in meditations and readings. Rather than listening to my ego about who I was and what I liked to wear, I heard a whisper from my soul and acted on it. I bought fresh flowers and one of the prettiest shirts I have ever seen. The freedom I felt from releasing my pre-conceived, societally-constricted views of myself shook me to my core. I felt so happy and real; most of all, I felt like me.
An act as small as buying flowers when I told myself it didn’t fit my image reignited something within me. The soul doesn’t care what people think about it because it recognizes it is connected to everyone else. It needs no external validation to shine, it just does.
I’m not saying it’s always easy, because so often I want to revert to the girl who depended on external acceptance. I honor that and see her; I know that is a part of me that needs to heal. I take time to breathe and remember the commitment I made to elevating myself, transcending the little things I used to call triggers.
I ask myself if it’s worth the peace I’ve created in my life. Every single time, the answer is no.
Next time you see an article, study or book about the downside of social media, I challenge you to think about other areas of your life you are conforming in addition to Instagram. Social media is just the stage that we perform on, playing the part we have created for ourselves. No wonder everyone is so anxious.