Social School

5 minute read

We are quick to blame social media for creating a lot of our present-day emotional struggles. There is certainly some truth in that. We constantly compare ourselves, live life through a FOMO lens (fear of missing out) and believe we are what we share. As a generation that has shared every bit of our lives for years, these are now fundamental traits of modern human beings that we must begin to question if we are to retain our sanity. And not by simply changing our activity but by changing our attitude. 
Attitude is underrated. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have available to us. Yet with a stigma of being too spiritual or deemed not as important as our physical aesthetic, we often don’t take the time to train it. The results of a gym programme may be visibly obvious, but the secret to lasting strength is found in our ageless attitude not just our abs. 
‘Sometimes you’re ahead. Sometimes you’re behind. In the end, the race is long. But it’s only with yourself’ - The Sunscreen Song
Each of us has a set of individual beliefs that are born from our unique life experiences. Truths that are so ingrained they often go unnoticed but impact upon our every hour. There are some common themes across these thought patterns that have been magnified by our modern lifestyle: 

  1. We believe our happiness is based on the actions of others

  2. We believe we are not good enough

  3. We believe contentment needs specific circumstances

  4. We believe positive change will happen through constantly putting ourselves down

  5. We believe more choice results in more joy

Social media can heighten these human beliefs. Our brains are now acutely aware of so much information and opportunities but instead of being overjoyed we are overwhelmed. Despite the technological advances that have catapulted our generation, our curiosity seems to have been replaced with a desire for ‘the good old days’. In a culture of more, our minds are lusting for less.

There’s currently a trend of deleting social accounts for an enforced digitox (digital detox). I don’t think that’s the answer. Raging against the machine is like putting a lock on the fridge door to avoid snacking - you’re giving power to the object and it only takes one dip in discipline to unlock the beast. The answer can be found in your attitude, which is not only more permanent but it allows you to re-see social media as the wonderful invention and global advancement it is. 
‘If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change' - Wayne Dyer

We can view imagery from countries we may never visit. We can talk to loved ones from around the world. We can share our work with an audience vaster than ever previously imagined. Good people doing good things are being rewarded after acts of kindness have gone viral. Professional athletes are living out their dream after being spotted on YouTube. Important news is being shared instantly. Charities are benefiting from reaching new people with their cause. We’re sharing. We’re connecting. We’re witnessing the infinite possibilities of this planet. From a personal point of view, it has supported my love for photography and design, it's allowed me to build a cycling community and it's developed friendships by closer connection to their daily lives. 
What an incredible, and still pretty unbelievable, development social media is. So why does it have such a bad reputation constantly fuelled by negative news? How is our population in a place where deleting these accounts is more desirable than utilising them? Whether it’s social media, career or personal relationships, we have trained ourselves to tame the object not ourselves. It’s easier to change ‘things’ than change our thoughts. Simpler to delete Facebook than face up to our demons. Only the thing is…it’s not. We receive an emotional shift by driving action and changing something, only to find ourselves back in the same thought pattern fixated towards something else. If we’re not comparing ourselves with an instagram post, we’ll be comparing ourselves with a woman in the gym. If we’re not frustrated by the action of someone on Facebook, we’ll be emotional about a Sunday night email. We need to take personal responsibility and experience how empowering it is to change our attitude not the activity. 

‘We’d achieve more if we chased the dream not the competition’ - Simon Sinek

To find lasting freedom, challenge yourself to become more mindful no matter what social or technological advances happen around us. 

  1. Learn to speak kindly to yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much less you are affected by other people’s behaviour once you are completely content with yourself.

  2. Realign with the right reasons. Share with the world on social media but have a clear and fiercely honest sense of why. If it’s to fill a void or find fulfilment, you’re fuelling the ego not training it.

  3. Be precious with what you consume. What enters our mind has a direct impact on our future. Put positive thoughts in and receive more of the same.

  4. Stay present. Use social media consciously, don’t aimlessly scroll. It's not multi-tasking. It’s energy-sucking and pollutes your mind with micro bits of information that will keep you up at night.

  5. Prioritise people. Connect with those around you by having considered conversation and deeply listen to their answers. Feeling second to a screen is shit - that feeling should be an exception, not the rule.

  6. Stop comparing. It’s the thief of contentment.

  7. Remove social apps from your home screen. It enforces a more conscious decision to open them.

  8. Be kinder than necessary with your messages, comments, words and thoughts. People are going through their own journey (and problems) so don’t be quick to judge and never ever troll or listen to those that do.

  9. Own your narrative with confidence and excitement. When looking at other people's social activity, enjoy it for what it is and what it means to them. Don't let it taint where you are and what you're doing. Your story has no less value because someone else is writing their next chapter.

  10. Find a way, any way, to feel proud about yourself. Helping other people, following a passion, setting a physical goal or learning a new skill. This sense of personal achievement will drastically reduce your need to find acceptance and kudos from social media.

  11. Spend time away from your screen. Technology is here to improve your offline life, not replace it.

The world has never been so fast, but it will also never be as slow. Embrace the evolution, remove the feeling of powerlessness against the platforms and practice confidence not comparison. A world full of positive perspectives and well-trained attitudes is a world that truly requires #NoFilter.