Let me start by telling you a little story. Say I grabbed a hammer and beat someone senseless. If I went to court and said, “Your honor. I am innocent. It was the hammer that killed her, not me.” Would it fly? Would you accept that defense if it was your loved one that died? The hammer is just a tool. If you put it in a tool box, nothing happens. If you use it to nail things, it is useful. It is not until humans use it erroneously that it becomes dangerous.
That is how I feel about Social Media. Social Media cannot do anything on its own. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are just code until humans interact with them. So if Yoga is ruined in any way, it is not Social Media that did it. Just like the hammer example, it is the humans behind it that did it. Yes, Social Media’s reach increases the amount of potential damage it can cause. However, it also increases the reach of the potential GOOD it can cause.
Even Sharath has said that Social Media can be useful. It is just a tool. How we use the tool is the real issue.
3 Ways To Have a Positive Impact On Social Media & Yoga
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:33- When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite thoughts should be thought of.
Be the Change that You want to See-Gandhi
Become the Force of Good will on Social Media (Cultivate the Opposite)
- If you feel that the images are unrealistic, share images that are realistic
- If you feel that it is all physical, share information that is not physical
- If you feel, people are bashing your teacher or lineage, share your positive personal experiences with your teacher or lineage
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:33- By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
Unfollow/ Don’t Participate (Disregard the wicked)
One of the most amazing examples of the power of non participation is the American Civil Rights movement. The boycotts, spear headed by Martin Luther King and other civil rights visionaries, brought down a system that was established on the backs of slaves over 200 years prior. If enough people stop following, commenting, attending workshops and buying products from the offending party (whomever that is for you), they will be forced to change (maybe even leave the scene completely) or risk losing their popularity in the Yoga world.
Support Those You Approve Of (Delight In the Virtuous)
Search Engines and Social Media Analytic software does not care whether or not the comments or visits to a page are of a positive or a negative nature. The software is looking at views and interactions. Period. So if you put an article up, share a picture, send a message to your friends, saying, “Look at this person. They are wrong because of this, that and a third”, you are sending traffic to them!!!! If their site is monetized, you are paying their bills for them!! You are spreading their brand for them!!! I know people, who went to practice with a controversial teacher because “they needed to experience it for themselves” and actually wound up liking the person and continuing to study with them!!! Hell, let me be honest. I have done that before. One of my favorite authorized Ashtanga teachers is someone who I received warnings about!! I would not have heard about this person if it were not for those warnings!
It is better to not mention them at all and share articles from people who share your views or that you feel are positive.
Header Photo by Wanda Koch
Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail email@example.com.