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My Struggle with Social Media


Lately I took some time off Facebook because I was having a hard time filtering. There is a lot going on, on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful benefits about having a virtual place to keep in touch peripherally with friends, family and acquaintances whom you might not normally see with any regularity. There are some interesting articles worth reading, some fabulous dabs of humour…and then there are the promotional and marketing posts, that for me seem to become more and more distracting. There is a fourth category of post which is some kind of cross-fertilized life promotion; a  ‘facade’ post that acts as a storefront to one’s so-called-life. For me, these are the hardest posts to parse. I am under no illusion that this is anyone’s problem but my own. If I were minding my own business, it would be a non-issue. But like I said, lately I have been having a hard time filtering.

For the record, while I do not actively take pictures of myself, I don’t personally feel there is anything wrong with selfies or self-promotion for that matter…yet I do see a movement towards a blurred boundary between documenting a life versus living to document. To be more specific, in the world I live in as a yogi, there are a lot of yoga ‘practice’ selfies going on. I have been observing this phenomenon growing for some time, and try as I might, I can’t seem to understand what taking a photo of oneself making a shape has to do with yoga? I don’t believe it is actually physically, spiritually or mentally possible to take a picture of yourself while practicing yoga…how can one be present in the moment while aiming their selfie stick at…anything? Time and time again, I have opened Facebook to see every angle imaginable of one’s personal yoga ‘practice’. Like I said, I am under no illusion that this is anyone’s problem but my own, which is why I decided I might need some time off to re-evaluate what was was really going on with my perception of ‘right and wrong’ and what should or should not be posted to facebook; to re-assess my perception of what anyone else’s practice should be, other than my own.

My confusion (and the hypocrisy) is augmented by the fact that I am a yoga teacher working in a city where it is pretty much impossible to do anything unless you are the best at what you do. While there are no ‘best’ yoga teachers, there are busier classes than others, and in the industry that is yoga, this is sadly one of the measurement sticks by which yoga teachers are measured. One way to fill up a yoga class, we are told, is to actively promote classes and workshops, and teachers are encouraged by many studios to take that initiative on board. I have felt a real, or imagined pressure to use the Facebook space to keep an audience abreast of news, classes and events, to connect with studios and other teachers as well as students. This is by no means an excuse, but I have participated in using Facebook as a vehicle for self-promotion. It has always felt pretty uncomfortable to do this, considering how much of my daily yoga practice is about surrendering the ego and living modestly, with grace and self-respect. It is one of the aspects of my life that has felt less-natural, and left me doubting why I post the things I do onto a board which is already over-saturated with more of the same. I have never been one to count students in a class, and have always found the ultimate turn-off is seeing a post about how many students have come to a certain class; even more repulsive is seeing the poor things lying there in savasana, unaware that they are a mere decoy for said teacher’s ego.

All of these experiences and feelings about Facebook have left me at a cross-roads of re-assessing what a healthy relationship with the world of social media looks like, and subsequently this has given me pause to re-evaluate who I am, how I spend my time, what relationships feel genuine to me and cultivate joy, and which are expensive energetically. I’m too old and life is too short for the latter. I have resigned myself to stay on Facebook for now with a self-inflicted curfew of 5 minutes per day. I have vowed to be more thoughtful with what I decide to put into the community space, and while I can’t promise to never post another image of a farting cactus, I do now know that I will never have compartmentalized pages for my professional and private self, for I am practicing leading a life of integration, not separation. Lizzie the person is not different from Lizzie the yoga teacher, mother, Rolfer or transplant recipient. These are all aspects of who I am, take it or leave it.

Here’s to Facebook for helping me to find answers to questions I didn’t know that I had, and to leading me to spend more time off-line and in the world.

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