This time on The Road Home Podcast, Ethan Nichtern explores the relationship between despair and media and offers a reflection on ways we can mindfully consume social media.
A World Gone Wrong
Social media can stimulate people to hyper-focus on despair. Users often resort to an ideology of ‘a world gone wrong’. Have you noticed this in your own use of social media? It is important to realize the negative side of scrolling. Ethan mentions mindful consumption, one of the five precepts of Buddhism. We can apply mindful consumption through social media. First, examine what you are consuming. Is it trying to create a paranoid response or trying to enlighten you? Second, notice when you have had enough bad news. If you feel more negative after scrolling through certain pages online, consider unfollowing them. Tuning into how you feel after using social media will make you aware of who and what drains you online versus what elevates you.
“This is a nutriment and it is either healthy and leads towards well-being and awakening, or it’s harmful.” – Ethan Nichtern
Check out Ep. 35 of Creativity, Spirituality & Making a Buck to learn about some mindful spaces online: A Mindful Headspace with Eve Lewis Prieto
The Vice of Social Media (20:02)
Ethan makes the bold statement that using social media can be as bad as using alcohol. Both can lead us to a loss of control over our lives and both can damage our minds and bodies, but social media is more insidious. Social media is available for consumption 24/7. Alcohol usually has limits; bars close, they refuse to serve people who are visibly too drunk, there are age restrictions, etc. In social media, there are no real restrictions on how much, how often, and who can consume. It is all about profit and there are typically no moral limitations for influencers or companies. Social media creates drama to advertise, to get more “clicks” and more money. This drama keeps us interested because we fixate on despair, which means the media profits off of our harm.
“There is this constant stream of drama news. And it’s not about policy and it’s not about what can we do about stuff. It’s about the drama of a world in the dramatized darkness.” – Ethan Nichtern
Listen to this enlightening letter on the BHNN Guest Podcast about the darkness in social media: A Letter To My Granddaughter: Wisdom For The Next Generation
The Quest for Connection (30:10)
So why do we seek out social media in the first place? Ethan posits that we all are looking for “sangha” aka our community. We long for connection and social media is an extremely convenient way to find this. The problem is that there are people being paid to keep us addicted to their platforms. Ethan says that without the guard rails of mindfulness practices and ethical precepts, it is too easy to be a victim of the capitalism found online. We can rebel against this by taking action in a very literal sense. Getting up and doing something outside or creating something tangible is the ultimate protest to the social media loop. The entity of media wants us to stay put and watch the next segment or click the next link. Ethan encourages us to get up, take action, and actually develop the deep connections we seek.