So I’m on Facebook. A lot. I realize that this can be a problem for some people, and there’s a tendency to become less social face to face when you’re more social Facebookedly (or Twitter-like, or G+ish). But certainly not a problem for me, right? I thought that was nonsense, really. I mean, I still see people in person, all the time in fact. If you don’t believe me, go to my Facebook page, I post pictures of my social interaction all the time!
One day, I was talking to my friend, who I hadn’t seen in a while. “What have you been up to?”, she asked me. “Oh! I just was on vacation in California, visiting my…” “Yeah, I saw your pictures on Facebook! It looked like fun!” “Yeah, it was fun… also, my parents flew up to..” “Yeah! I saw that on Facebook, too!” “Yeah… yeah, it was fun…” It occurred to me that, once I WAS actually face to face with my friends, I really had nothing new to share that hadn’t already been seen on Facebook. Sure, I suppose there’s always going into excruciating details about the trip or the visit, but honestly, there was nothing I hadn’t covered on social media. That conversation has happened to me on more occasions than I care to admit.
“I’m on Facebook all the time because my family lives so far away from each other!”, I say. Which is true. Between four siblings and my parents, we live in four separate states, from Alabama to Connecticut. But why was I posting every moment with my family when they visited? It clearly wasn’t for their sake. Maybe a little bit. But really. They were RIGHT THERE WITH ME.
I’m on Facebook all the time because my family lives so far away… when my Mom came to visit, we talked about the fact that we used to talk on the phone a lot more than we do now. Because we always see each other on Facebook, and comment on each other’s pictures, and like each other’s comments, we didn’t feel like we needed to call. We felt connected. And that’s lovely, BUT, the few days she was here with me, we laughed and laughed. I’d forgotten how much laughing we used to do during our phone calls! We’d laugh to the point that my mom would be in tears and my dad would take the phone and ask me, “What did you say to her this time??” It was hilarious. You don’t get that on Facebook or Twitter. Sure, you might giggle at a photo or one of the crazy posts your funny friend might make. But then you’re done laughing and you’re on to the next post. There’s no reciprocal giggling. Mom’s laughter makes me laugh, which makes her laugh harder. Pretty soon we can’t breathe and we have tears pouring down our faces. WAY more fun than a lonely giggle at a social media post.
Social media gives the illusion of being connected. It isn’t reality (most people aren’t as happy as they appear on their profiles, truly). When you’re at some fabulous venue with wonderful people having a terrific time, shouldn’t you actually be enjoying it in real life and not posting about it online? Being present is one thing yoga can teach you. When you’re in a challenging pose you’re in that moment, thinking about the body’s positioning, etc. You’re trying to remain balanced, for example, in tree pose. If your mind wanders away from your dristi, or focal point, you topple over. Bringing that off the mat and into our daily lives is important, too. You can’t enjoy the baseball game if you’re constantly looking for the perfect picture to take or tweeting about every play. You can’t enjoy your husband’s company if you’re posting on his Facebook wall (I’ve actually done that while sitting with him. I’m a dork.). And you can’t hear your mom’s contagious laughter if you’re clicking “like” on her last updated status. You need to be in the moment to enjoy these things, and checking Facebook for fear of missing out on what’s happening is actually making you miss out on what’s really happening.
Sometimes we’re on Facebook when we’re home alone. It’s easier to immerse yourself in other people’s stuff than to just be. But guess what? Sometimes it’s good to just be! That’s when good things happen. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 1.3 states: “In the moment that your mind becomes quiet, you abide in the bliss of your own being.” The bliss of your own being! Seriously, there is such a thing. And I’ve been missing many opportunities for it.
What I think it comes down to is this: have fun online, post silly pictures, “like” or “favorite” or “1+” the heck out of everything you want! There’s no problem with using social media in moderation. It’s fine. It’s all about balance. But don’t forget to call your mother.