Will removing ego from online platforms realistically lead to deeper connection and authentic forms of social sharing and expression?
Many lives were transformed in 2010, and I’m not speaking Simon Cowell’s departure from American Idol (though our hearts are bruised). The fateful autumn day Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched Instagram sparked a rapid cultural and communication shift within humanity. And ever since, we’ve become a population addicted to double-tapping our way through online relationships. Try that on for size with your morning coffee.
By we, I’m including me, not an elder millennial, nor a Gen Z’er, my age group and I sit on a blurred line between the landline friendly and hyper-digital. With a few years of smartphone-less adolescence (for which I am grateful), I’ve still been using the app ever since I could drive an automatic vehicle. And in fact, my interpersonal relationships were affected long before Instagram, with MySpace’s top friends’, Facebook profile images, and AOL messenger taking center stage at age 12.
Today, the Instagram app attracts over 1 billion minds a month. Now a worldwide phenomenon, its creators have earned clear business success: a Facebook acquisition in 2012, credit for the emergence of an entirely new ‘influencer’ workforce, status as a pioneer in social marketing, and trillions in revenue. From a social media marketing perspective, the exposure its provided us to connect and relate to other businesses and customers alike is incredible.
As conscious marketers, we haven’t forgotten the growing body of published research showing the negative side effects of social media on our minds and souls, particularly pertaining to social comparison, cyberbullying, reduced attention span and ultimately increased levels of anxiety and depression among its users.
Instagram’s leaders couldn’t ignore the statistics either. With CEO Adam Mosseri’s announcement, Instagram is slowly rolling out a “no like” platform in an effort to remove social comparison, and thus promote better relationships and increased health, we’re forced to examine just how detrimental hundreds of ‘double taps’ a day actually is. We’re excited to see the company’s initial attempt to deepen digital connections. Some celebrities and influencers are not, particularly those who earn their living from posts.
Instagram is slowly rolling out a “no like” platform in an effort to remove social comparison, and thus promote better relationships and increased health, and we’re forced to examine just how detrimental hundreds of ‘double taps’ a day actually is.
The sudden shift to change, both voluntary and involuntary, by large social platforms, begets the question: When determining terms of business success at the get-go, are we taking into account all the stakeholders’ best interests? If we’re aligning our business with conscious capitalism principles, hypothetically, yes. And, even with the best intentions, could the first platforms have predicted the negative effects of social networking on individual and societal health?
This act could be the first of a long line of newly defined successes in the social media landscape. And it’s led by demands from the Millennials (hold for applause). Ironically, according to Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd in The 2020 Workplace, the very generation who bypassed the patience and understanding gained from learning a manual transmission, is also the first generation since the 1960’s to start consciously viewing work as a key part of life, not a separate activity that needs to be balanced by play. My generation wants to work to afford the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and connect to larger groups, not just fill the bank account. Perhaps in our endless exposure to instant gratification, we’ve learned instant isn’t gratifying at all, and now we crave experiences and in-person connection more than ever.
So we wait and ponder. Will removing ego from online platforms realistically lead to deeper connection and authentic forms of social sharing and expression? Or will removing likes be equivocal to losing our digital wolf pack of leaders and followers, leading to a loss of identity entirely and the demise of the app? While we await systemic change to remedy our discontent, I'll be focusing on my own power as an individual to consciously use social networks, bringing my double tap offscreen to my living, breathing communities.
Over the past several years I have been a writer, blogger, social marketing strategist and social media manager and everything in between when it comes to digital media. During that time, I have managed over 75 social media networks (including my own), clicking from one page to the next, finding enlightening clever things to write all-day every day and constantly checking performance, engagement... are we liked? Which even for the most confident, can quickly turn into, am I liked?
Growing online communities from 5000 to over 30,000 in a few short months, I even developed a Facebook following of over 20,000 people for my own personal blog, constantly chasing this fleeting sense of belonging and approval.
Attached to my cell phone and computer like a baby's blanket, seeking comfort in the form of "likes."
The companies that I work with are all conscious businesses and/or nonprofit organizations, all offering products, services or events that brought something extremely positive to the world. The things I personally wrote about were about how to create and live a healthy life. My clicking motivation was heightened at the thought that with each new like, our networks were growing and somehow one step closer to changing the world, even in a small way.
I have come to learn, good intentions without mindfulness can quickly lead to the social media dark side.
I would sometimes catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror after a "clicking session" only to see a frazzled, crazy haired, fuzzy eyed mess. I would walk away from the computer, and immediately start clicking on my phone, right back into the ridiculous social media hamster wheel of intermittent reinforcement that we all are trying to "win."
As a regular practicing yogi, psychology major and someone who was literally posting the very messages intended to snap people into a heightened perspective or higher vibration each day, it's not like I didn't have the knowledge of what was happening. The conditioning gods of social media had officially infiltrated my brain. Clicking, clicking and more clicking. I was in it and my self-worth started to be in the hands of random strangers liking my posts at 11am on a Tuesday.
How could this be happening to me? I work with yoga and wellness companies, promoting healthy living through articles, social media, workshops and consulting advice. I promoted good health, mindfulness and the practice of yoga and meditation to tens of thousands of people on a daily basis. However, somehow, my tight shoulders up to my ears, stress levels, weird breathing patterns and frazzled mind would suggest I was working on Wall Street (aside from my yoga pants and perpetual messy top knot hair-do). Not only was I addicted to social media, I had become a yogi fraud.
I truly love to write (it's my favorite thing) and share experiences or information that others could benefit from. I truly value the power of social media to share positive messages, promote real change in the world and to stay connected to the ones you love. I truly believe in everything I was writing about and saying, the issue was, I just wasn't living it. Posting and writing about how to live your life, all the while I was an over-stimulated social media junkie.
It was at that moment that I decided it was time to focus on getting back to the place where I could speak truthfully from a place of presence and calm when putting anything out into the cyber world as myself or on behalf of any of my clients.
This isn't a story of completely unplugging, although my first notion was to delete every social icon off my phone (which of course I did at first). Learning how to have a healthy relationship with everything in your life comes from harmoniously integrating it into your life, not letting it consume you or cutting it off completely.
Here's how I did it.
1. Ground yourself.
Before you get on social media in the morning, make sure you do something to ground yourself. Whereas the first thing I used to do in the morning was check social media, I started meditating, surfing, or going to yoga.
2. Live what you say.
If you write or post about yoga, meditation and living a healthy life... practice yoga, meditate and do healthy things.
3. Be mindful, posts have energy too.
What we put out into the world in any form (even a social post) has energy. Be mindful of what you are putting out there and what you're giving away. This can be an effective way to reinforce your goals and aspirations, but can also create feelings of personal misalignment if your posts are not backed by authentic energy (as in my case). This is true whether you are posting on behalf of yourself or for a client.
3. Unplugged weekends.
Incorporate unplugged weekends into your life. No social media (or even better no computer at all) from Friday night to Monday morning.
4. Leave your phone at home.
This forces you to be in the moment, and not capture it. Nothing to distract you from the people you're with. If you have a compulsion to be "liked" just ask the people you're with for some love.
5. Send a powerful message to yourself.
Go watch a sunset without your phone. This is a tough one, but if you can watch a sunset without taking a picture of it, it's all downhill from there. Think of this...there are more than 350,000,000+ pictures posted to Facebook every day (verified!) and I'm guessing a good portion of them are of sunsets, the cyber world is good to go on the sunset tip; save a few for just you.
6. Keep some things as little memory gifts for yourself.
We don't have to share every good thing that happens to us on social media. Keep a few nuggets just for yourself. It also makes it more fun to catch up with friends when you have some new things to share. Who knows, you may even get the reputation for being a little mysterious.
7. Beware of the 5-minute impromptu post.
If social media management is part of your job, set times to schedule your posts for the weeks ahead. Please beware of the 5-minute impromptu post. "I just have to post something real quick about something the Dalai Lama just said" can easily turn into 5 hours in the clicking vortex.
8. Create Healthy Boundaries.
Turn off your automatic alerts. Control when you go to social media, not the other way around.
9. Take frequent nature breaks.
If you're ever feeling overloaded, drop everything and GO OUTSIDE.
10. Honor the power of social media and use it wisely.
“Social media sparks a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.” - Brian Solis
Reboot or Die Trying (Outside Magazine): A star political blogger for Grist.org, David Roberts spent so much time posting and Tweeting and staring at screens that he almost went nuts. So he pulled the plug for a year, restarting his relationship with technology and actively seeking health, balance, and adventure in the real world. What he learned just might save you from meltdown.
The Psychology of Social Media (Real Simple): What is it about screens that keeps our eyes transfixed and fingers a-tappin’? Psychologist Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of “Alone, Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other,” explains what keeps us tangled up in tech.
B.F. Skinner Likes Your F.B. Status (Ceasefire): More than half a century ago, behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner conducted countless experiments in an attempt to condition the behavior of pigeons. Corin Faife explores some uncomfortable parallels between Skinner’s pigeons and today’s Facebook and Twitter users.
Originally published on Elephant Journal by Traci Wallace on September 17, 2014
They've got hits for days stored in their nests, and they're just waiting for the right time to send them to radio and top all of the charts.
Check them out on Bored Panda
A new, spirited sector of communications is surfacing, and for those who choose open-eyed living, it is all surrounding. It seeps in a non-profit’s education efforts to regenerate the soil beneath our feet, flows through a business’s initiative to develop clean sources of the water we consume, and is weaved into an e-commerce’s website highlighting social-cause-supporting threads that we wear on our backs. This mindful and pervasive branch of communications is called conscious marketing, and it is not for the faint of heart.
In fact, on the explosive brink of an increasingly-aware 21st Century and sweeping with hopeful winds of collective mindfulness, conscious marketing is founded in, aligned with and existing for the whole-hearted.
What exactly is conscious marketing and why would a generationally stereotyped selfish, entitled and lazy millennial be interested? We can debunk all of the less-than-loving myths and better grasp this up-and-coming industry by definitively exploring the newly intertwined concepts.
Marketing encompasses all of the creative and deliberative actions of moving goods and services from a concept to a consumer. We can define consciousness as an awareness of and responsiveness to one’s surroundings, and we know the stigma a millennial oozes is one of poor work ethic, narcissism and the need for instant gratification.
The question remains: why would a millennial, in all 24 years of said unkind stereotypes, pursue a career in a starting-up industry without guaranteed benefits? The bottom-line-up-front? Purpose.
Conscious marketing is marketing that restores the good back in goods and the service back in services.
It is the awareness that the majority of modern businesses operate lacking vision for the greater good, authentic social responsibility and heart. It is the strategic communications actions taken in restoring our concepts of and relationships with business, consumerism, clientele, money and meaningful work.
This hyper-aware branch of marketing means stepping away from the fear that impels modern-day business in a mass-consuming, throwaway culture. It means emphasizing and believing in goodness firstly, setting mindful intentions and taking skillful actions based in love, honesty and awareness in a client-centric workspace.
Conscious marketing is the execution of unmatchable communications strategies, campaigns and management, for they are driven by dignity, liveliness and authenticity, and not fear and corruption.
It is important to note there is nothing corrupt about the act of business nor the concept of money. There is, however, corruption embedded in our present systems of business and relationships with money, and the way we conduct our energy and exchanges within them. The monetary prioritization of present-day goods and services perpetuates an insatiable need for more, propelling heightened rates of fear-based created demand and mass-production levels, and stripping away initial well-intended meanings of business.
Values in whole-heartedness, meaningful life-space and workspace, and an innate belief in goodness set the foundation for the full-throttle, meticulous and soul-driven communication that gestates only when in alignment with a vision for something greater than financial gain– the betterment of society.
These very values are reflected in the conscious clients that seek out mindful marketing: full-of-good businesses and organizations that embrace the truthful, restorative notions of the meaningful work we perform. Our clients are working to better this world, and as conscious marketers, we want to help them flourish in their victories with even greater magnitude.
As a millennial laying down the first real bricks in my career path, I am not jaded nor defined by material gain and status; I am not driven by the taste of financial security nor the fear of financial insecurity; I have not felt the sweet, shallow comfort of corporation compensation and benefits. Such shiny perks have not yet altered my clear vision for goodness. And while I can appreciate and find importance in pursuing and having such securities, I cannot do so at the cost of compensating my heart and spirit.
As a millennial living whole-heartedly, I know this world has been generously lent to me, and I am early in my stay here. I believe it is my millennial duty to give back, support the greater good, harness self-awareness and execute regenerative work for future generations; for my own children and grandchildren.
I am indebted with the respect and honor of my very aliveness, and it is my life’s purpose to make use of the skills that have been gifted to me.
I have untapped into talents to offer my neighbors, my society and my planet. I have the most time, vitality, and generationally fresh ideas now than at any point in my lifetime. My physical, mental and energetic resources are at a biological peak, and I do not intend to sign such precious gifts over to a system that will not ignite my spirit nor trek toward creating a healthier, more progressive world.
I am in the business of leaving this world kinder, healthier and more beautiful than when I entered it. I am in the business of leading a life and making a living with self-awareness, with love and with meaning. I know this because I can feel it in my heart, because I choose to listen to it. And it guides me to harness my gifts and execute purposeful work with an agency and clients that choose me, and that choose mindfulness, too.
I am choosing to take my first steps into the workforce in love and not fear.
I am choosing to work through, with and for the heart.
I am choosing to use my skills for the bettering of this world and to support those doing the same.
I am a millennial, and a marketer, and I am choosing consciousness.
What do you choose?
“We have become a nation that places lower priority on teaching its children how to thrive socially, intellectually, even spiritually, than it does on training them to consume.” – Juliet Schor
Research suggests that aggressive marketing to kids contributes not only to excessive materialism, but also to a host of psychological and behavioral problems. Check out this guide from the Center for a New American Dream about how to help children reclaim valuable noncommercial space in their lives—space to be children, not merely consumers.