Choosing your reactions just takes a little mindfulness.
I have absolutely no clue what to do with my reasonably large quantity of followers, although it does sometimes cross my mind to ask them all for a small sum of money, and see what happens. (Oh, look! I’ve just re-invented crowd funding!)
As for the people I’m following: that can get profoundly complicated. Most of ‘em are people I know in real life, because I figure it’s healthier to avoid any activity which might lead you to believe you’re having a relationship with someone into whose eyes you’ve never directly gazed – though I may be showing my age here. Anyway, this would be cool, except it turns out I am capable of loathing the Twitter personas of people I adore in person. People with whom I’ll quite joyfully get a little drunk and talk a lot of nonsense, can appall me in Tweet form. I start hating Twitter-them so quickly and easily, too, and with such minor provocation – on the grounds that, I dunno, they keep Tweeting the word ‘methinks’ (because, what? You’re Shakespeare on Twitter?), or because they’ve used a hashtag (a social media idiosyncrasy I despise for some reason I’ve never managed to clear up with myself), or because they’ve retweeted the original Tweet of someone I don’t like even in real life. This can taint the actual, proper, private relationship I share with them; never mind that it makes me wonder exactly how many of my flesh friends secretly hate me on Twitter, for committing crimes of the ‘methinks’ order.
This is not good.
Nor if FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out, a social anxiety enabled by Twitter and also Facebook (which I’m not on, on the grounds of sheer contrariness / having decreed it ‘common’ a few years ago, in a national newspaper), and which encourages the absolute conviction everyone else is having a better time than we are: going to better parties while dressed in better clothes, having better holidays, better sex, doing better yoga… Nor is trolling, nor is equating the rapid accumulation of thumbs up-symbol Likes with any true sense of self worth.
No. Definitely not good. And definitely not mindful. The increasingly mindful aspect of my freshly Headspace-trained brain struggles with Twitter, about as much as it struggles with anything. Stop looking! it goes; you’re only on there because you can’t face starting that chore, or that article, or that VAT return; or because you’re bored or sad or a bit grumpy and you think that, just maybe, someone will Tweet something at you that’ll cheer you up, only, face it! That’s highly unlikely; it’s much more likely they’ll tweet something that’ll wind you up, and isn’t that what you’re actually seeking, you transparently self-destructive little arse? Or: do you really need to post that fleeting observation re the weather? it asks. Aren’t you only doing that because you’ve got nothing good to contribute, yet you feel like you should say SOMETHING, anything – and also you know that weather plays well on Twitter, therefore you’re guaranteed something in the region of 25 retweets minimum?
My mindful brain does not think much of the Tweety bit of my brain. Not much at all.
Yet my urge to Tweet remains strong. It didn’t even exist for me four and half years ago, now it’s something that borders on a compulsion! The best I seem capable of, is increased mindfulness re the nature and frequency of my Tweets. How funny that I didn’t feel the need to Tweet even once yesterday, I’ll think, and yet today I can’t stop! How curious that I hated everything everyone else Tweeted this morning, yet this afternoon, I think they’re all charming!
It’s almost like my Twitter habits are trying to tell me something about my shifting moods.
Beyond that, I’m finding some peace on Instagram, the photo posting site, which I consider to be – if not ‘mindful’ exactly, then certainly more ‘looky outy’ than Twitter. My Instagram speciality is gently obscene graffiti, which means I have to be constantly checking out every street sign / the dusty rear window of every white van / the walls of every school for the faintest hint of a naïf line drawing of a penis. Such vigilance is required! This means I have less time to get caught up in my own swirly thoughts. And that is about as close as social networking gets to enabling mindfulness.
The author of this post is an editorial contributor to Headspace. These are their views, experiences and results and theirs alone. This contributor was paid for their writing.