“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”- Mahatma Ghandi
In my last post, I wrote about the advice to “get over it” that has stuck with me and prompted me to put more of myself “out there” despite constant self-judgment. This morning I read the article “Shy of the Social Media Spotlight? Get Over It” written by an author and consultant who specializes in personal branding. Personal branding...I’ve mused in writing on that topic as well, again wrestling with fixedness and concerns about some perceived audience who holds power over me and judges my thoughts, ideas, words, titles…. marketability, intelligence and worth.
As an educator I work to teach students to think carefully about what they share online. I want them to develop a bit of a filter on how they present themselves publicly. However, I recognize that many adults are hindered by the strength of the filters we have developed.
When teaching yoga, I speak the words, “Let go of the ego…. have compassion for yourself. Never judge.” In yoga, yes. What about in life?
I “stalk” (how embarrassing to admit it) my daughter’s young friends and acquaintances on Instagram (never mind that they are all legally too young to have these accounts.) They are already over what I have to get over. It makes me uncomfortable and worried. They appear filter-less. But I don’t believe that they are without ego. Their egos are just being formed. Social media is inseparable from the growth and development of their senses of self. These are some of the questions I imagine them asking:
How many followers do I have?
How many likes did I get (and, maybe more importantly WHO is doing the liking)?
It is a very public popularity contest. And ultimately meaningless.
Honestly, I am not sure where this line of thought is ultimately taking me except back to the original idea of letting go. I can’t change anything except (maybe) myself. Social media is what it is. Who we ARE should be no different from our “brand.”
It is not our business what others think of us.
I am in the midst of reading an interesting book, “The Parents We Mean to Be” by Richard Weissbourd. In it he calls for adults- parents, teachers, coaches- to work always on their own moral development in order to be worthy mentors for the younger generation. All we really have to give is ourselves. We can have a shiny, happy website and tons of followers on this or that social media tool, but if the human behind the curtain fails to live up to the promise, than what is gained?
Is social media a mirror where we get to control the image that shines back at us, tweaking away the ugly parts, burying them out of sight? Or is it by holding out the whole picture, without judgment, that we actually do grow as human beings?