I have not been posting much on social media lately. Earlier this summer I considered declaring a social media ‘break’ to ape my main shake Katy Bowman AKA @nutritiousmovment as many of her protégés did – but not only did that seem grandiose (I haven’t got 10s of thousands of eager followers) and as I was still peering in on other peoples’ feeds during the time I wasn’t posting much, it’s not a genuine break. More a transformation into an online stalker 😝
As well as getting to know the ropes of life-online-as-a-stalker, I’ve been engaging in a level of social-media retrospection, and you could say, introspection.
Looking back at the Instagram feed I’ve published over the last couple of years frankly makes me jealous. Jealous and a little exhausted knowing that was actually me moving through all those people and places. Actually me packing for and queuing for all those flights. Actually me waking up in all those new places having no idea my way around. Actually me attempting to surf all those waves that had no mercy.
During this moment of taking my foot off the social-media gas, I’ve been reflecting quite a lot on how we change the nature of our experience by the act of documenting it.
I love writing, storytelling, art, taking pictures, the way things look on these shiny, new, utterly hypnotic devices we have worked so hard to be able to afford.
However, engaging with the world writing the WordPress post or 140 character tweet in the back of our minds removes us from our experience to one of several degrees.
Even just in the time it takes to make the shortest of posts.
What’s more, I never feel the same reticence articulating my thoughts online as I often do in person.
Is personal social media activity the perfection of the ego’s ego? (Idea owing to Matt Kahn.)
In the last three years I have travelled more widely than ever before (I even made a friend who assumed I was an heiress judging by the variety and extent of my travel posts 😂).
I did things – a list that has started to become a little too rehearsed but nevertheless is still true: start to surf at the age of 36, live a couple of months without electricity and running water, build a house on a remote tropical beach – that I never would have imagined when I was an exhausted office worker in a financial house on a little rock in the Atlantic, that time when the Matrix had me like 😱👩🏼💻👰🏼🤦🏼♀️
After such unwitting compliance with a lifestyle I now shudder to imagine, and heady, heavy ‘pain body’ action during that time (after Eckhart Tolle), it was truly intoxicating to feel, and in many ways, be, so liberated.
I roamed around new and sometimes lovely places on our beautiful planet connecting with the most incredible people. And showcasing quite a lot of it on my personal social media feeds, mostly ignoring the ugly.
Were the people and the places all that incredible? I’m sure many were, certainly at times.
Certainly, the stories I told (myself) about them were.
Was the actual experience?
Perhaps sometimes it was.
Perhaps often it was.
Has that experience of the world (finding things incredible) stopped because I’ve not been sharing photos and commentary about it on Instagram so much?
A tree falls in the forest.
That tree is falling in the forest and even though I am standing right there I might have been too busy posting my Instagram story about it to notice.
What? The falling tree is documented but not experienced?
Sounds downright dangerous!
(Nevertheless, it’s nice taking an excursion into the forest, isn’t it?)
What about the commentary in my head?
Is that still on?!
Looking back in this way on my personal feed, I’ve had a sense of probing the motives behind the narrative. At no stage through all this social media work have I been driven by any commercial goal or building any intentional personal ‘brand’ and that now seems like a shame 😂
My mind moves back to a conversation I had not long ago with a friend about drawing clear lines around the use of social media for business and being careful to preserve the enigma of one’s life. I think she was trying to give me some tactful advice.
Or, as another friend said to me not long ago: “your life is public knowledge”.
Perhaps it was a comment made in jest: this friend well understands that the beauty of any mode of representation is the necessity of elision; any account is a fiction however edited or embroidered.
I have also been very aware that a lot of the posts on my feed were (at the time I made them) aimed in their principle part at a specific audience of one, with little-to-zero assurance of striking their mark, not least because this individual didn’t own a device and doesn’t read English 😂
(Yes, for a time they were aimed at the ex – that most recent ‘twin flame’ of my experience, another fascinating concept owing to Matt Kahn.)
So, does any personal internet tendency amount not only to a lot of futile work, but to a lot of work that detracts from one’s experience itself?
I think we can reliably say yes, it does.
Or at least it can.
Will that stop me from posting pretty pictures when I visit what I consider to be amazing places or spend time with super souls?
Not on your nelly.
After this social media posting fast, does crafting the narrative hold the same appeal as it used to?
I don’t think it can. It’s too effortless to remain in silence. Nevertheless, I’d still love some new surfing shots in epic locations.
In the meantime, I bow to you from the forest.