Mark Zuckerburg just passed the $100 billion mark in net worth. It somewhat seems like this astronomical wealth may be well deserved for the man who created an entity that serves such a huge function in today’s society. Can you run any kind of business or group these days without Facebook pages, groups and marketing? Facebook can do it all, book your appointments, set up video chats, and so on.
Coincidentally, I have been getting a lot of ads lately popping up on Instagram (owned by Facebook) claiming to show me the best intermittent fasting plan for my age. I’ve been thinking about fasting a lot lately.
And while traditional fasting, going without food for a number of hours or day, is certainly valuable, I’ve been thinking about a different kind of fast. A technology fast.
Just as it is important to be mindful about what we put into our bodies, I would argue it is even more important to consider what we are letting into our minds. To be educated, responsible members of society, we all need to keep ourselves informed to a certain degree. But when does this information become overload? When does it start to negatively impact our mental health?
For me, I’ve noticed that it has crossed the threshold. It has been a perfect storm of pandemic panic and limitless lockdown. When this started months ago, I really didn’t expect it to be going on so long and progressing so badly. Public health experts agree that we should still be staying home to help stop the spread. And I choose to follow recommendations from public health experts. Not from the video of the lady in the white coat everyone was sending me on Messenger last week.
We Can Do Hard Things
This is one of my favorite self reminders. Staying home is hard. And it gets harder. I think it’s been particularly hard when I go on social media and see all my friends who are not staying home and look like they are having the time of their lives. But when I really take a moment to explore these feelings I realize it’s a trick. I actually love staying home with my family. I have been working on turning my home into the cozy sanctuary I’ve always dreamed of. And I am loving the slow life spending time with my kids. Somehow social media seems designed to make me feel inadequate and compare myself to others. Maybe this is why their advertising works so well.
Another thing I’ve noticed on social media since the pandemic is how divided we all are. It appears to be the perfect place to spout opinions, comment on other’s opinions and tear each other down, all while hiding behind the safety of our devices. If bullying had levels, this would be the most cowardly. It makes me wonder why we are so attracted to this kind of interaction. Does it actually make us feel good? I think social media in general causes some kind of immediate gratification on a very primal level. I’ve seen it compared to playing a slot machine where every time we check it we get paid in likes. And there’s this constant curiosity about what will pop up on our feed next.
It gives us this false feeling of connection. Meanwhile, the current mood on social media is actually tearing us apart. It is highlighting our differences and turning them against us, sparking family fights, ending friendships, and generally dividing our society.
I suspect there are actually forced at work, artfully crafting this to weaken us.
But there is an antidote. For me, it’s required taking a technology fast. Constant news stories and Googling have just peaked my anxiety and left me with few real answers. Checking social media leaves me feeling discouraged. A technology fast may look different to different people. Maybe it’s just a matter of hiding all of the sources that let junk into your mind space. Maybe it’s limiting the time you spend online.
The real objective is to begin to shift focus. Shift from the false images online to the truth that is in your own backyard. And that truth, in the present moment, I’m willing to bet is pretty wonderful. Maybe it’s a child’s laugh. Or a giant tree. Or your favorite song. And a bath. It’s your truth. And when you begin to spend time in YOUR truth, in the earth’s truth, you begin to see the truth that we are actually all connected. Our similarities here in the real world actually far outweigh our differences. We all love our family. We all want to protect our children. Some may argue that means having them vaccinated. Some may argue it means not. Some may argue it means sending our kids back to school in a pandemic. Some may disagree. These are the things social media highlights. But the truth is that we all love our kids. We all just want to protect them. We might have different ideas about how to do that. But at the core we have the same intentions. I think if we can focus on our root commonalities, this is truly how we can heal ourselves, our communities, our country, our world.