This morning I listened to pastor and author Sarah Jakes Roberts speak about “seeing yourself.” I was only half listening while researching on the Internet. At some point I was only vaguely hearing her message. But when I heard, “I don’t need your ‘likes’,” the pastor’s message caught my attention.
For anyone who engages in social media, “likes” are a kind of Holy Grail. Likes travel; they expose you. “Likes” can increase your visibility and your network. Likewise, they can create a fleeting movement. Achieving many “likes” is the soul of social media. Receiving “likes” can be addictive. It’s one of the ways that lead people to become hooked. “Likes” and social media are much like high-school: we want to be liked and accepted and, well, popular.
Over the past decade, I’ve told friends with an intense love-affair with social media that it reminds me of a popularity contest. And when Pastor Jakes Roberts stated I don’t need your likes, I wasn’t convinced she meant that she doesn’t need your likes. I took her “need” to mean that she doesn’t depend on your “likes.” I would argue that the pastor prefers your “likes,” even if she doesn’t necessarily need them.
Spirituality without the religion, at its core, rests on being here now. Being here now is intentionality. A mindful–an intentional–journey elevates us to a level in which we don’t need to be validated or appreciated or popular by those we have no personal/intimate relationship with.
We have to ask ourselves if we are using social media for more than a vehicle for our careers or to connect with strangers to share common interests. Social media works because too many of us feel unliked without some form of validation, or connection (pseudo or not). We seek acceptance by outside sources, and it does matter to a great amount of people. Social media offers recognition to the un-validated.
Since the mid-2000s, when social media and other online socializing changed the very breadth of the Internet, we lost sight of authentic connection. Too many of us, before we head for the potty or to do meditation or bow our heads to say a quiet Morning Prayer, reach for our devices. It’s a mechanical life-style that requires us to always keep up. Our day, in essence, is driven by the need to get a “like”; similar to a junky jonsing for a hit from a crack pipe.
We reach for our devices at red lights and stops signs. We walk through malls and along congested sidewalks–looking down. Indulging in social media throughout the day leads to unconscious living and reactionary behavior.
Psychology Today defines addiction as follows: a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior. Social media, for so many, is addictive.
Enough of us will claim to need it to promote our [fill in the blank]. But 86 percent of social media is personal. We, or rather our egos, are fixated.
This always-keeping-up/staying connected lifestyle leaves little room to be mindful. Being mindful isn’t selective. Random. Convenient. It requires us to be as present as our lifestyle dictates. We are no longer in our moment. Living our moments. We are hooked on “likes” and followers and being relevant.
Social media, inarguably, is powerful. And in particular for those needing to market their skills, talent, and product. Howbeit, we are so over that–using social media as a means to “keep in touch” and promote our talents. Human nature is naturally organic and incessantly needy. But here’s one way to determine if you aren’t obsessed with social media: You will not care about how many people are in your network, and you will not need “likes.”