“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.
-Amy Jo Martin
I am writing this after having thought an awful lot about it and after having many conversations about it with those around me. These days, it seems like the world is divided in two: those that support social media and those that don’t, and for some reason, there seems to be a lot of judgement surrounding both. I was sitting in a group of people the other day who all began discussing how social media will be the ruin of yoga, which I don’t really agree with…but more on that later.
The Age of Emojii & Emotion
First off, I personally resent the connotations that come along with the word ‘millennial’. Being a millennial and having the term often discussed in many spheres as a negative thing ( we are lazy, picky, indifferent beings who walk around making self-obsessed decisions) is both wrong and hurtful. I’m not saying there aren’t some millennials who would fit such a category, but then again, i’m sure there are many baby boomers who would as well. As millennials, we are also a generation who value art and creation of art and resiliency and environmental sustainability. We are activists and poets and dreamers and travellers and thinkers, just the same as any human who was born in the 20s or 30s or 40s and so on. We are humans, and while there are some socio- cultural aspects of life that go along with the year a person was born in (i’m not disregarding this, who else is going to celebrate Britney and Justin’s matching all denim outfits?), it simply does not define an entire ‘generational personality’. So when people comment that social media is ‘for us millennials’, I get a little confused. Is the comment being made because of technology? Or is it because they simply don’t understand it?
Or is it because such a vast number of us ‘millennials’ use social media, that the entire system of media is discredited by association? Is the baby thrown out with the bath water?
Every generation has been ‘vain’ in some form or another, otherwise we wouldn’t have corsets and many other body harming contraptions (sorry to all you corset lovers out there). Humans have been sharing stories since the beginning, through oral language and image and script. Whether one perceives the evolution of that to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is irrelevant, because its going to happen anyway.
How Does Yoga Fit In?
Now to yoga. All the comments i’ve heard and see have to do with spirituality and yoga as a spiritual practice. Those sped up videos and contortionist like images posted to facebook or instagram take away the depth of yoga that one can experience. To an extent I completely, totally, 100% agree. When I put my phone or computer away and sit in silence with my thoughts and connect to the deeper part of me that transcends external, I am home. I can’t get that ‘online’ and I don’t believe anyone really can. SO, I hear you non social media yogis! I do! I personally don’t believe in teaching people to wrench their body into a pose to contribute to a ‘challenge’ that they’re not sure connects with their karma or health needs. Not only does it hurt your soul, it hurts your body. Some people might believe in it though, and guess what thats okay.
What I do believe in, is sharing what is healthy for you. For your body, your mind and your soul. This means sharing when a pose is giving you those warm fuzzy feelings, or sharing when you feel happy or sad or heavy or excited. It means connecting to the physical world and sharing your experience in the physical world, even though us yogis know enlightenment is so non physical. I believe in being both, because I AM BOTH. My being is in fact here, in this physical form and it is also not. I don’t believe in dulling the physical to only live in the spiritual- they all work together. You CHOSE your body FOR A REASON and I don’t think just because we are yogis we can filter that story out and just keep the karma part.
“So why share it then?” is always the next question. Why not keep all 3 levels to yourself and work out you on your own? I believe in stories. I always have. Its why I completed an english degree despite my constant restlessness and wanderlust. Deep down in my soul, in the core of my being, I think telling stories is important. I think teaching is important.
So What Now?
THAT my friends, is what social media should come down to. HOW DO YOU WANT TO TELL A STORY? Whether it be through images or 140 characters or a whole novel or chatting with a friend. It is not the byproduct of a self- obsessed generation and it is not going to be the end of ‘real yoga’. Especially in the yoga community, we need to stop what my teacher called ‘yogier than thou’ syndrome of assuming we are more ‘yoga’ than someone else simply because they tell a story the way they want to. We need to stop judging people based on their generation and look at the fact that we’re all humans.
We need to stop judging people based on the way they choose to tell a story. Posting and not posting- its all the same side of the coin, what is healthy for you. Those that post, lets not find ourselves moving from a place of insecurity. Lets find ourselves sharing our story in the most loving way to our body, mind and spirit in that moment. Those that don’t post, lets not fall into yogier than thou syndrome on the social media scale. Lets love ourselves fully, completely and passionately without degrading those who do the same.
I’m interested to hear more thoughts on this…because it is a big heavy topic and I certainly am not expert in any capacity