I was on Instagram, a few days ago, feeling some type of way. You might know the feeling. It is the feeling you get after you have looked at the umpteenth post of seemingly perfect pretty people doing seemingly perfect things. Even though you know better, because your Instagram and Facebook is also devoid of out takes and lows, you start to question your life. Or worse, you pour yourself a glass of haterade and start judging and nitpicking. I was having one of those days.
Normally, when I feel this way, I log out. I know it is just my ego running amok so I don’t feed the beast. I was killing time so I kept scrolling. I ran across an Instastory by Francesca Ramsey. She essentially said, and I badly paraphrase, “don’t hate, start studying”.
We can study what that person is doing and see how we can make ourselves better. We can also study what is coming up for us. Out of all the pictures and posts we just scrolled through, and had no reaction, why did this one awaken the beast? Before you type something crazy, Patanjali has some great advice.
By cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked, the mind retains its undisturbed calmness. -Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:33
Friendliness towards the happy– If someone is happy doing their one armed handstand on the beach in Jamaica, can we be happy for them?
Compassion for the unhappy- In my situation, the first person I had to extend compassion to was myself. At that moment, I was not happy. Even though I knew better, the emotions and feelings were there. I needed to be okay with this. I needed to take an honest look at those feelings and emotions, get quiet, and listen as my heart told me where they were coming from.
We also need to have compassion for people whose unhappiness is on public display. I can’t even imagine being a celebrity and having the worst moments of my life televised. There is this idea that public personalities are “asking for it” and that they should have taken a different job. If someone ” puts themselves out there”, they should just shut up and take it.
I watched a video on YouTube where an ex model talked about how he was constantly solicited by designers for sex. He would work hard to land a gig only to get there and be given the ultimatum, “have sex with me or I am dropping you from the show.” He eventually had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. He even contemplated suicide. He finally left the business. In the comments below, people said things like, “what did you expect?” When he was going through it, people would say stuff like, “pretty people problems” or that “he should be happy for the opportunity and just do it”. Somehow, because he “put himself out there”, his feelings no longer mattered. We all matter. Pain is pain. Himsa is himsa (harming is harming). Practitioners of yoga practice non harming or ahimsa. Answering someone’s pain with, “well, you put yourself out there” is not ahimsa. Writing harmful stuff on someone’s post because they, “put themselves out there” is not ahimsa.
Also, whether you know if or not, when you say rude comments on Social Media, even if you think the person deserves it, it stops others who do have great things to say, from saying them. I have spoken to many people, who are a book of knowledge on yoga, asana and ayurveda, but they wont’ share it because they are afraid of being judged. I also know people, who are actually quite popular on Social Media and in the world of yoga, who filter themselves because they are afraid of judgement. We say we want people to be “real” but why would they when they will have to carry the cross of crucifixion because of it?
Delight in the Virtuous-When people are doing good things on Social Media, do you share it? Do you ask those people to come talk or do a workshop at your studio? Do you leave a positive comment? How do you show your delight?
It is a natural tendency that, when we see negative, we want to talk about it. All the while, beautiful, things are going on all around us and we don’t say a peep. We woke up healthy but we focus on our bad hair day. We can’t do one pose in Yoga and we forget about the 70 other poses we can do.
If someone is out there killing it with a post that you think is dead wrong, the last thing you should do is share it with your friends or waste time commenting on it. Why? Facebook, Google and Instagram, as far as I know, are not penalizing people for negative comments or followers who don’t like them. A share is a share. A click is a click. A follower is a follower. Congratulations on helping that person get pushed up to number 1 on Google, featured on Instagram’s discover feed and bumped up in your Facebook feed. #winning
Trust me, I get it. As the Bible says, “he who is not without sin, cast the first stone”. I cannot cast any stones. I have totally gotten sucked into the negativity vortex. And indeed, my negative comments, helped those people thrive. They are still out there kicking ass and taking names. All I got was wasted time and hurt feelings. Don’t do it.
Indifference for the Wicked-Don’t feed the beast. Unfollow, unsubscribe, log off.
What can you do if you don’t like what you see?
Yoga Sutras 2:33 tells us that, when we are disturbed by negative thoughts, we should cultivate the opposite.
-Get up and go do something positive
-Find the positive in the post and what the person is doing
-Do your own positive post showing another alternative
-Support people who hold the opposite view
-Be the poster child for the other view
-Teach the other view
-Study yourself and your reaction. How can you become more equanimous? How can you increase your “unmessablewithness”?
If all else fails, log off.