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Social Media and Mindfulness

Social Media and Mindfulness

If you’re like me, you have a bit of a love-hate relationship with social media.  I have reconnected with old friends via Facebook – a blessing that would never have happened otherwise.  I also use Facebook to promote my writing.  Indeed, Facebook has proved to be a useful tool for many professionals, non-profit organizations, writers, musicians, and artists.  On the other hand, I have often found myself wasting valuable time reading tweets and status updates, and I sometimes feel the pangs of imagined inadequacy when perusing the pages of my friends, whose lives all seem to me more glamorous than mine.

This article in Good Magazine offers some simple tips for how to engage with social media without being overwhelmed by it.  As someone who tries to maintain a meditation practice and live mindfully, I am often struck by the extent to which social media pulls me out of the present moment.  When I’m out with friends, I often whip out my iPhone and log in to Facebook to  “check in.”  This is not always a bad thing, but it does take my awareness away from whatever it is I am supposed to be enjoying with my friends.

At concerts, I frequently see people recording the performance with their phones or camcorders, actually looking the performers on the tiny screen rather than watching the real-life musicians standing mere feet away.  No doubt these videos are Facebook and YouTube bound.  It is easy to fall into the trap of allowing social media to turn our lives into constant performances.  Rather than allowing ourselves to be fully present, there is a part of our brains that we dedicate to thinking about how to make our experiences look sexy on Facebook or Twitter.  So on a certain level, our lives become like movies played out for our social media audiences.

For those of us who strive to live mindfully, it is important not to swing to either extreme.  Social media can be a wonderful tool and a force for good in our lives.  Those of us who enjoy the benefits of social media need not cut it out entirely.  On the other hand, it is necessary to be aware of how we use social media so that we do not fall into the habit of allowing it to detract from our awareness or pull us out of our present experiences.  Approaching social media with awareness is the key to using it productively.

 

Read more: Life, Spirit, Spirituality and Technology

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

19 comments

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4:47AM PDT on Apr 8, 2013

I love Facebook. My news feeds are so much fun, and I love re connecting with old friends and seeing what they're up to, and they have a new thing now where you can create an interest list based on what you like. I only have one right now and that one is a list of status updates from Pope Francis.

8:06AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

im a stay at home mom so i check whats going on in the world while i have noone to talk to, but while im around people i dont use any social media. i think its rude and ill mannered to constantly check your iphone or ipod and its one of the biggest reasons why i never wanted a cell phone, because everything that happens becomes fragmented pieces of info instead of a whole impression or experience and having a conversation with someone whos constantly distracted just makes me 1) want to throw w/e device they are handling against the wall 2) lose interest in being around the person.

8:18AM PST on Jan 30, 2013

good reminders

4:25AM PDT on Sep 6, 2012

So true.

4:22PM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

i love to get in touch with people but I only have a fb. It got me the job I have now, many other opportunities through ppl id never have reconnected with otherwise (like babysitting, house cleaning and play dates) If used wisely, fb can be a valuable tool. But as with anything, too much is.. we.., too much

3:16PM PDT on May 24, 2012

Marketing has studied addictive behavior for decades. That's actually their point. They intend for the public to be addicted to everything they're selling, including our attention to get us to buy something that will put our money into their hands. I like technology, and I think spiritual awareness will balance the pros and the cons of our modern day vampires, and believe me, it's more than just a scary tv or movie that can drain the life-blood out of anyone. Vampires are actual. -> actual metaphores for personality disorders who care little for your well-being and thirst for all they can suck out of you,....

[ethics ??? where art thou ??? ]

9:11AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Leaving the iphone at home when out with friends would be one solution. Being mindful is being totally involved in and aware of what you are doing at a particular moment and, in my opinion, if you feel the need to interact with a piece of technology while doing something else you are sure as hell not being mindful. In the real world the social status, true or not, of friends and aquaintances doesn't mean shit!

9:02AM PDT on May 7, 2012

Because Facebook was becoming such an addiction for me, I have cut down on checking into it only three times a week. This seems to be enough and frankly, I don't NEED all that extra detritus clogging up my brain!

5:09AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Totally agree, believe it definitely can be addictive.

4:00AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Facebook and its ilk seems to have got otherwise perfectly sane, normal people behaving as if they might disintegrate if they don't stay in constant contact with the minutiae of other people's lives. I find it bizarre how people want to post details of their latest incidentals and read similar from their friends and acquaintances.

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