Can new forms of Social Media teach us the gentle art of self-compassion?
This week saw the publication of worrying data about the impact of social media on the Self.
So where does it go from here? Are the App developers listening to research?
Traditionally Social Media has been used to impress, to ‘show off’ by sharing photos and updates. A flawless look, a healthy glow, being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, eating picture perfect food. Because lets face it, nobody posts photos of themselves in their onesies eating yesterdays mince and tatties do they. Why not? Because instant gratification in the form of likes and shares from others somehow boosts our sense of worth and self-confidence. And perhaps a ‘Real’ photo wouldn’t win us this popularity competition in its most extreme form. But the feelings of self worth perpetuated by the current Social Media trends fade all too quickly. It could be argued that this is because the majority of our posts are superficial, staged and even fake. How many selfie attempts did it take to get the shot that you finally deemed worthy of posting into the worlds biggest popularity contest?
Facebook asks us ‘Whats on your mind?’. Well here it is, this is what is on mine today.
I would like to see Social Media helping to unite people into a network of real caring and sharing people, enabling us to engage in the gentle arts of compassion, kindness and empathy.
Today I am sharing a photo, I’m calling it a ‘selfless’ this photo was taken by placing my phone against my heart and taking an image from me to you. Ok its not the most exciting image, but it really is where I am right now. Let me tell you a little about this ‘Selfless’……
What can you see? My mug of lemon and ginger tea, with a splash of honey in it. I’m a firm believer in the principle that a spoonful of honey every day keeps coughs and colds away. I am also ashamed to say that I am one of those strange creatures that carries their own herbal teabags around, however I have learned very recently that it is a more common foible than I first thought. The mug says ‘I’d rather be in the garden’. It was given to me by a lovely lady named Beth who even in her glorious twilight years would much rather be outside than in. I too long for the spring when I can get outside and start planting seeds, green beans, yellow beans, purple beans and cucumber are my favourites to grow. You can also see the corner of my laptop, I am working from home today and in the middle of writing this piece. You can see my glasses, which I increasingly depend upon these days. I was bullied at school and called ‘Specky four eyes’ for wearing a very similar pair in my youth, I still suffer from terrible shyness when wearing them, even although its now trendy to do so. In the background you can see a box frame with a clay mermaid and merman inside. These were carefully made by my partner and his 10 year old daughter, and they simply make me smile. They are meant to represent me and her Dad, and they are one of my dearest treasures. The chair I am sitting on was shared with this 10 year old little force of nature last night for our ‘Annie Time’ when she shares with me all the complexities and trials and tribulations of a ten year olds heart and mind and we attempt to set the world to rights, or at least make some sense of it.
In the future perhaps it wont matter so much what people think of how you look or who you are with. Perhaps the number of ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ we have wont matter so much as making a real connection with another like-minded human being and supporting each other mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Perhaps it will be more about real growth in modesty, honesty, compassion, humanity and humility, love and laughter and the expression of feelings in all of their glorious Technicolor.
The good news is that App and Social Media developers do seem to be listening, we are promised a revolution in the evolution of our virtual world. With Apps like Paralign, which will teach the art of journaling and sharing feelings. They say that in the changes to come that you will be able to be who you are, say what’s on your mind, and not worry about impressing anyone.
Facebook likes or Twitter shares will never be as meaningful actual human interaction. But in the future, the goal of social media will be to help us to learn how to create that feeling of satisfaction without the need to impress other people through staged photos or less than honest updates.
Why don’t we start that evolution revolution right now? Are you with me? Try taking and sharing your first ‘Selfless’