Even though the world is turned on its head right now, we're all learning new ways to be able to reach out and connect with each other. For the past few months I've been bothered by the hollow, empty feeling I'm left with after using one social media channel in particular. And I'll admit I've also struggled with the idea of divorcing myself from social media channels altogether - as a small business owner and entrepreneur, I'm told daily "you have to be on social media, it's the only way to succeed". Well, sorry, time for me to step out of that mandatory check box (I've never done mandatory very well)! More importantly though, as a wellness practitioner, I don't believe that social media and some forms of technology are mentally healthy for us in the long run, especially at the extent to which we're currently using them.
The trouble I'm having with "social" media is that at a time when all of us need real social connection and interaction more than ever, many of us are drowning in social media for hours at a time, and in my experience, coming out of those hours with nothing to show for that time other than emptiness and a whole lot of negativity and self-pity. It took me months to figure out, but for me the offending platform is facebook. And it's likely to be different for all of us - maybe you thrive on facebook and other social media platforms aren't your thing. When I really broke it down, the stories and feeds I was seeing on facebook didn't feel like my choices anymore, and most posts had a negative, accusatory or blame slant to them. Whatever facebook keeps doing with their algorithms, it's not working for me or my business.
Being self-employed during the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that I've had a lot of time to think about the direction I want to move my business in for the next 5 to 10 years. And it's meant a lot of reading. I love reading for the sheer joy of getting swept up into a book and finding myself lost all day in it. And I also have an insatiable desire to learn. At the present moment I have about 15 books in the cue, and I'm typically reading about 3 or 4 at a time. There are a few books that have influenced my thinking lately, and perhaps just came along at the right time to reinforce ideas that were already forming. But one in particular came up and slapped me right in the face with how much it aligns with my current thinking:
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (by Mark Manson) - you have to be prepared for a lot of swearing when you sit down with this book, just look at the title. Because of Covid-19 and the public library situation, I took a friend's recommendation to listen to the audiobook version. It takes about 6 hours to listen to, and I really liked the narrator.
There were 2 main tenets to this book: 1. many of us give way too many f*cks about what others think about us, and social media is leading that charge. Think about the messages you see on social media platforms - if I exercise daily like that guy maybe I can have great abs like him, if I eat what she's telling me to eat maybe I'll feel better and lose weight, if I do my hair and makeup like her maybe I'll be as beautiful as her. Meanwhile you've seen a pop-up ad for pizza and ordered some along with some deep-fried pickles (cause why not?), scrolled through story after story for hours on end, and didn't do a single sit-up. And there you are sitting in a pile of self-pity, pizza & fried pickles comparing yourself to all the amazing people you've just seen online, no further ahead and mentally questioning your life choices. And the problem with comparing yourself to others on social media is that for the most part you're comparing yourself to the most extraordinary parts of that person's life that they've chosen to share with the world. Not the ugly, tedious, daily "real" life that we all have going on in the background. Take me as an example: right this moment I'm sitting at my computer, in my sweatpants that have an oil stain on them from when I was blending up facial serum the other day. I really need to take a shower, it's 10:15am and I haven't had breakfast yet, just 2 coffees. But I'm not going to post about any of that! However, that's the real life going on behind everyone's doors.
After discussing how social media (and advertising in general) feed into our thoughts about ourselves, Mark then dives into the meaty part of the book about setting realistic values and metrics to live your life by. Ones that are realistic and within your control, like compassion, honesty, non-violence, self-respect, innovation and humility (amongst others). He argues that by nailing down some good values and metrics, that the happiness, pleasure and success we're all looking for will naturally occur as a by-product of achieving the goals we set based on those values. He also discusses how the pursuit of endless happiness is an unrealistic goal, as struggle in life is inevitable. Our lives are a series of problems to solve, and if you take control, maintain good values and choose which problems you want to solve as a result of those values - well in Mark's words "when you have better f*cks to give about life, you get better problems to solve, and you get a better life."
It's taken some time to evaluate my priorities and decide how I want to connect most with my HERbS & Mend subscribers, and it turns out the answer was right in from of me. Direct from the mouths of all you beautiful people, who have told me time and again that what you value so highly about your connection to me is the educational insight I provide. And while I can't currently provide the in-person services you and I love most (reflexology, relaxation & lymphatic massage and aromatherapy consults), I can continue to provide some of those same services delivered in a different format (Virtual self-reflexology and aromatherapy consults available now via our secure clinic site https://mendmassageandwellness.janeapp.com), as well as education and insight into some of my favourite topics.
So, where does this leave me? Well, I'm taking a big step back from facebook. It's a toxic relationship for me, and I don't have space or time in my life for it anymore. It feels liberating to be making these changes, and to be caring less about what "the Jones'" are doing, buying, and eating. You can find me here blogging, I'll continue using Instagram (for me it's a positive space and I get to see only what I have chosen to see), and video blogging is in the works for me too.
Where does this leave you? Is it time to rethink some of the things in your life that might be bogging you down versus lifting you up?
Light & Love,