Being Mindful About Social Media
Facebook seems to illicit a roller coaster emotions for many of us, depending on what posts show up in our newsfeed on any particular day. A lot of people tell me their Facebook experience is tumultuous. We may experience jealousy over an ex-love who's moved on and updated their relationship status. It's tough sometimes to look at people's exotic vacation pictures during snowstorms. Our mood can be brought down by a chronic complainer's post. Maybe you've experienced hurt feelings when a group of mutual friends post a group-selfie when you weren't invited. The posts that always seems to get me riled up the fastest are racist or radical political opinions.
Some feel that the answer is abstaining from social media altogether but I think that can be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If I deactivated my account, I’d miss out on keeping in touch with people I’m interested in and all the awesome and inspirational content that my yoga teacher friends post. Facebook is an incredible communication tool that often makes me think, educates and entertains me.
You can take control of your Facebook experience and make it an uplifting and positive one 100% of the time. It’s the Unfollow button that’s your friend for this practice. First, look at your existing list of friends and identify the culprits whose posts regularly upset you. No need to be rude or aggressive and unfriend them, necessarily. Just unfollow them, and their posts will never again appear in your newsfeed.
If you are curious about what they are up to, you can choose to visit their page, and you’ll have control about when and how often you expose yourself to their posts. If you change your mind in the future, you can always follow them back again and they won’t be aware that anything has changed.
After your initial sweep, make it a regular practice to immediately unfollow anyone who pops up on the feed and causes you negative emotions. It might take a couple of months to have your Facebook experience filtered, but it's worth it. Another thing that worked really well for me was investing a few hours on a rainy afternoon and looking up and ‘liking’ spiritual teachers, uplifting quote sites and interesting authors and publications. The checkered landscape of my newsfeed changed from an unpredictable emotional experience to pure inspiration every time I log in.
In yoga philosophy, this practice is called pratyahara, which is translated as the withdrawal of the senses. This is one of the eight limbs of yoga that help us to gain mastery over our external influences with the goal of reaching a more peaceful state of mind. If you aren't big into social media apply this principle to the 24 hour news-cycle or people who gossip when you see them in person.
Simply put, shit won’t upset you if you choose not to engage with it. Take control of external stimuli that affects your state of mind and use your unfollow button liberally. It's a modern application to a proven ancient practice.