Beginning at 8 years of age I began the study of Karate-do. At 10 playing rugby. I was always taller than my contemporaries in primary and high school. That since has changed as most of my contemporaries have grown taller than me by several inches.
I was, and am, physically very strong: lots of endurance and a healthy pain threshold. Always coming across as confident and knowledgeable in many areas.
But strength and knowledge have always been my defence mechanisms – to hide my true self from too much scrutiny. Just in case someone else rejected me. I was never confident about being me, and never confident in my abilities. I came across as arrogant, aloof, a bit of a know it all. I was really disconnected from those around me.
I did change as I got older, and started working on me. My feelings of gratitude at changing my inner self attitude before the dawn social media is immense. I dread to think what my life would have been like with the added stress of instant, and constant social media.
Social media is blamed for so many of our modern social ills. Some people with eating disorders, self-harming, social anxiety, or exclusion (sometimes self-imposed): at one time or other in recent history all of these things have been blamed on social media. Sure, I agree there are major differences that today’s social media has introduced to society at a global level. Placing the blame exclusively at its feet though I don’t think is just.
You see for some social media has given a voice that can now be heard. Eyes that can see beyond walls. Technology making the inaccessible accessible to people in isolation.
Every generation, I think, has had their own social media. Even the Roman’s had it. There are guys boasting about how many sexual conquests they had. Rhymes of undying love. To the messages that two brothers posted on the walls of a friend’s house. Of course, I do mean literally writing on their friend’s wall, because I’m talking about graffiti.
Like social media, Roman graffiti influenced the everyday lives of people all over the empire.
I do not want to oversimplify or trivialise the effects of social media on society and how we live, as it is a complex phenomenon.
What I can confidently say, is that the experience of some of my clients informs me of the real, detrimental effects that social media has had on the very foundations of their personhood. Affecting not only how they see themselves in terms of body image, and social acceptability, but also in how they experience themselves through the media of others media pages and posts.
Clients with issues related to social media feel they have to constantly present themselves as always beautiful, always accessible, always with it, always strong. And, like our beautiful photo above of the pile of stones, always ready to crash down if someone either deliberately or accidently knocks the stack over. This constant stress results often in generalised anxiety, panic attacks, and if chronic over time, can lead to depression and sometimes complete social reclusion.
In learning the source of our anxiety, we can relearn its original intention for us. And that means we can change its hold on us. We can be free again.
Who is living you?
There are multiple reasons why this is important, one stands out above the rest. If I am so taken up with living my life through the media lens of other people’s media, who is actually living, me? I want to help people live their life, not someone else’s version of their life.
Never stop being you.