Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Is Facebook Toxic?

I'll be honest.  These blog posts are hard to write these days.  It seems like everytime I sit down at the computer, my mind goes...............

yeah.  that.

Perhaps I've used up all of the words in my frequent journaling.  Or perhaps the words just don't exist.

Regardless, to continue to blog I need to embrace the words and trust that they will convey at least part of the meaning and awareness into which I move.

Word by word, breath by breath...

Allow me to begin with a story.  

Today I snuck away from the computer.  Sadly I still had my phone (with online access) by my side, but I was very mindfully outdoors with the kids.  We enjoyed a blissful day at the park, stopped for ice cream at a local establishment and for lemonade sold by two neighborhood kids on the way home.  

I did this even as emails piled up and requests went ignored.  It was a choice I made - yes, I spent time with the kids but I also did not connect with friends and strengthen connections I highly value online.  Not good, not bad.

Everyone has their own opinions on the online world, particularly of social networking.  How much someone should be on there, whether the connections made are "real", whether the social circles are valuable or distracting.  Our personal values help us to determine how much we engage with the online world (or how guilty we feel when we take a day of to head to the park and don't engage).

What I came to was a very important belief:

The online circles, Facebook, Twitter, etc. aren't unhealthy.  It is when we consume them to define who we are that they become toxic.

Yes, I am a blogger.  I am a Facebook and Twitter participant.  I am part of online social circles.  But that is not who I am.  

I am also a mother, an artist, a yogini, a photographer.  But that is not who I am.

I recognize that "I" am not my stories, not my titles, not my roles.  I am the nonjudgmental awareness of the experience of these things.

 That is a lot to take in, yes, but so important:  

I am the nonjudgmental awareness of the experience of these things.

How esoteric this idea seems - and yet how very applicable it is to every conversation occuring these days!

We all experince guilt over what we are or are not doing.  We all debate the questions, depending on what seems relevant to us:  

Is it better to turn off comments on your blog or make time to respond?  It is better to find a way to be "stay-at-home" parent or to provide for them in every way that you can (including financial)?  Is Facebook (or Twitter) a valuable use of time to connect with others (and grow a business) or is it a waste of time that distracts the user?

The thing is - whatever we decide is ok.  We are to experience it, not to judge it.  We are also to not judge another for the decision that they make.  

And that, knowing this, we will still feel guilty and still judge - ourselves and others?  That's ok too.  That is a part of the experience.  

Slowly, through practice in whatever form it takes, we move more and more into the awareness.  We remember that the esoteric idea - that we are the nonjudgmental awareness of the experience of these things - really is applicable to the situation where we feel like flipping off the person who is tailgating us and the situation where our inbox piles up with emails and we simply feel overwhelmed and the times that we feel absolutely, completely drained...and the times that we feel aimlessly inspired.

We remember that Facebook, that any online or offline portrayal of our "self", that the role we share, that the actions we take that day to support (or sneak away from) that role ...is not unhealthy.  

That our days only become toxic when we try to define ourselves by these roles and interactions, that we only start harming ourselves when we judge and forget....

Word by word, breath by breath, our existence continues as it is.

May your practice - yoga, meditation, Facebook, science, parenting, cursing, drinking, painting, smiling, or whatever form it takes - continue to take you further into awareness...

Namaste.