Your brain on social media
I am fascinated by how the pandemic has influenced our collective psychology. Even watching my own at different points throughout COVID has been a manic experience -- one minute, sheer terror. The next, feeling like we've all overreacted and it's time to move on.
It's amazing where our mind goes and how we behave when the primal need for safety feels in question.
To me, one of the unfortunate outcomes of the pandemic is how we've turned on each other.
Most folks in my generation don't watch mainstream news. We know there's an agenda, and attention seeking tactics at play. We take what we see/read/hear with a grain of salt.
We know the same is true of social media, yet we spend our most precious resource - our time - endlessly scrolling, scanning, and following. We ingest a particular brand of our own curated media instead of watching the evening news like our parents did.
It's not that we think this mode is so much better. We just do it so habitually, rarely thinking about the psychological implications. Acting as if there are none.
But everything we consume has consequences, for better or worse.
The wisdom of social media is the algorithm. After watching your behavior (who you follow, what you like) for a very short while, Insta, FB, Twitter - all of 'em - know exactly who/what to show you that would pique your interest, and keep your hooked.
In a time of uncertainty and fear, social media has been our way to stay connected -- to each other, and to the latest in the world.
And it is no doubt an incredible tool to do so.
But as we've followed those who share our interests, and liked quotes by people who believe what we believe, an invisible divide grows deeper in our collective consciousness. And as we're coming back together, we're not so sure about those people on the "other" side.
Internally or externally, we find ourselves confronting battles of
Self-righteousness -- "Luckily, I've been keeping up with REAL sources of media, so I know the truth on what's happening. We wouldn't have such problems if everyone would just do what I do."
Judgement -- "Those idiots need to just do X. They are unintelligent and deserve to be punished."
Victimhood -- "Something completely out of my control happened and now I can't do anything about it. Poor me! I guess I'll just give up all responsibility for my own happiness/health/wealth, etc."
One surefire way to sell yourself short of personal freedom and avoid taking responsibility for your life is to live by the above mentioned principles.
Wellness pop-culture talks a big game about surrounding yourself with people who support you. True, feeling supported is important.
But what if instead we approach those who think or act differently than we do as opportunities to grow, be curious, and compassionate instead of feeling threatened? How would this mature our emotional landscape? How would this influence our hearts?
The truth is, we are not so different from each other. Remembering what we have in common, as opposed to how we differ is how we live from LOVE and move away from fear.
To your inner wellbeing,
PS - A social media fast every now and again to reclaim your own psychology is probably a good idea, too. Ha!