Social Media Madness and the Mind/Body Connection

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I’ve yet to really embrace this whole social media thing. Yes, I have the various accounts; Facebook, Twitter, MySpace.  But I’ve yet to send a tweet, and I’m horrible at getting back to everyone who sends me messages on the other two.  Truth is, I have really mixed feelings about it all, and this has led to today’s blog posting.

First, let me say that I have no inherent ill will towards any of these mediums.  I recognize all of the undeniable good that they can offer, both personally and professionally.  And I also recognize that these mediums represent the “new way” that many prefer to connect with those musicians, authors and artists that they admire.  And in the same way that I feel like it is our obligation to try to get our work out to folks in whatever form they prefer to receive it, let’s face it, social media is another viable form… even if it’s just to let people know about the work.  So, yeah, I know I probably have to warm up to the concept of social media and find my groove with it.

Still, here are three fundamental observations/concerns I have about the whole thing that I wanted to throw out there to you guys, especially as it all relates to the mind/body connection, as well as one’s creative life:

The Clutter Factor

As a general week-to-week practice, I always try to find those valuable pockets of nothingness… those stretches of time in my life where I can embrace a little empty space, even if it’s for only five or ten minutes.  This is where so much of those cool, creative inspirational nuggets emanate from.  And I’m not just talking about the formalized practice of entering the Sacred Space (as we discussed some months back in an entry here).  I’m talking about simply finding a little room in your day to ponder, reflect, decompress, and just be in the moment, unattached to anything in particular that might be demanding your attention on any level.

To this end, I often try to eliminate or scale-down certain activities and distractions, thus freeing up some more potential nothingness time.  So when contemplating any kind of daily routine for maintaining social media stuff, we now have more accounts to log into, more messages to respond to, more things to comment on, and, in general, more stuff taking up space on our “hard drive” (brain).  And when you consider this in the context of all the other things potentially eating away at our time, like phone calls, text messages, e-mails, Internet, TV, etc., this leaves even less time to just be, to engage the Grand Nothingness.

No doubt, I’m sure there’s a happy medium here somewhere.  But where social media is concerned, I think we would all do well to run our own check and balance system as to how much time we spend juggling all of these accounts vs. keeping tuned into trying to grab some quality nothingness time here and there.  Personally speaking, I really don’t think every spare moment has to be spent engaging a lot of what we wind up engaging in these mediums.

Virtual Moment vs. Actual Moment

Another thing to think about is this; it seems like so much of what we deal with in social media is sort of a second-hand experience… the virtual moment vs. the actual moment.  For example, when someone posts “I just finished dinner with friends,” there are two sides to that experience.  First, there was the actual, in-the-moment experience of having that dinner; the time, place, circumstances, backstory, conversation, the sensory experience of enjoying the food, the reflective nature of eating, the before, during and after.  The actual experience.  But once you try to tweet about it, or commit it to a one-sentence Facebook post, it now becomes a virtual experience, one big step removed from all that it was in the moment.

Now, on one level – fair enough.  In a way, that’s what writing is… the author’s attempt to convey an actual experience to the virtual reality of the reader interpreting what you’ve written.  But, it just seems like with the sheer volume and general nature of all of these “reports” and “updates,” we are simply consuming more data, without the benefit (in most cases) of experiencing any sense of enrichment as a result.  We become bottomless filters to an endless barrage of bits of information that is so massive in scope, we are incapable of extracting much meaning from it, even though it could have had meaning and relevance to the original experiencer.

Circuit Overload

This should scare the shit out of most every person who earns a living sharing creative “information” in any form, because it essentially means that your audience could be so weighed down with data, that they have considerably less room on their “hard drives” to fully digest and experience what you do.  Seriously.

I remember seeing a news item a couple months back where researchers were suggesting that folks nowadays are not “properly processing” tragedy, because the modern information age blasts us with so much of it, so often, we don’t have time to fully assimilate one given event before the next one hits our consciousness.

And isn’t this true of so much of what we see these days online, artistically?  There really is some remarkable art, writing and music out there, immediately accessible to all, and modern technology – spurred on by the viral aspects of social media – offers an efficient delivery system for it.  But, are we giving ourselves a chance to fully digest and experience it?  Or, do we quickly gulp it down, tweet the link, then forget about it five minutes later when the next cool thing hits our inboxes?

__________________

Anyway, I feel like this whole rant has been somewhat rhetorical.  I have no concrete answers, ideas or suggestions about any of it.  But once again – let me emphasize – none of this is meant to be an across-the-board criticism about social media, and it’s hopefully not simply more data for you to consume.  It’s just a little food for thought that we can all take into those precious five or ten minutes of Grand Nothingness… once we’ve checked all of our accounts!

Thanks for listening –

BR

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About Bobby Rock

Bobby Rock is a world renown drummer, the author of seven books, and a recognized health and fitness specialist with certifications in exercise, nutrition and meditation. He has recorded and toured with a variety of artists, released three CDs as a solo performer and is recognized as a top drumming educator. (He is currently touring with rock icon, Lita Ford.) Through speaking, writing and activism, Bobby remains committed to a number of animal and environmental causes. Bobby lives in Los Angeles.
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12 Responses to Social Media Madness and the Mind/Body Connection

  1. Lisamarie says:

    Good points about tragic news stories, Bobby, and you’re right about that-but that’s the media for you, I guess.

    But if I can ask here, regarding MS, did you get my email from a few days ago and the little, minor issue with it I told you about, even if you don’t check yours much anymore either?
    It’s just the principle, you know, since I’m hardly on there and haven’t done anything, although I’m sure it’s just a glitch with the system somehow.

    Thanks!

  2. Bobby Rock says:

    Should be resolved. Check it out…

    BR

  3. CJ Burton says:

    Hi Bobby-

    First off, welcome back to “blog world. I think many people were beginning to wonder if you were OK. 🙂 Glad to see you’re well.

    Thank you so much for shedding some light on this deep and important topic. This has definitely been something I have personally thought about for many years.

    Social media, has in some ways really helped us ,however, I believe we are at the very embryonic stages of finding out the COST of its “benefit” to our world. This type of technology really promotes the “immediate gratification experience”, in which we are, in a sense, training ourselves to want, whatever it is we want, NOW, and if we can’t get it now, we just press a button and find something that fills the void.

    I personally believe that relying on social media sites as a central base of communication promotes the inability to interact with the “real” world. In other words, real life social skills and social senses are becoming dulled, so that even when it’s possible to make a simple phone call to someone, so many of us would rather send a text message.

    Facebook, myspace, or even emails tend to be a little “less personal” and provide a completely different experience than a good ‘ol fashion face to face conversation or phone call. Many therapists have already begun treating patients for internet addiction, not to mention the many cases of Attention Deficit Disorder, which I believe can be greatly attributed to our co-dependence on computers and social media sites in our everyday lives. Also, one has to wonder what the short/long lasting effects are to the brain, while sitting like vegetables in font of a screen for hours on end, which many of us do.

    It’s all food for thought. Thanks again Bobby for bringing this up. I’m interested in hearing everyone’s take on this……CJ

  4. Lisamarie says:

    GREAT commentary, CJ, and such true, good points! I didn’t know people were being treated for internet addiction now though. Interesting.
    Yes, I agree with you that emails and texts are pretty impersonal, and can put a damper on people’s ability to communicate effectively in person if one spends too much time on “distance communication”.
    Not to mention a big part of the reason we have such an obesity problem and with people just being out of shape in general is because, unlike in the old days where people actually did physical labor for a living, now we’re paid to sit in air-conditioned rooms, protected from any good, real source of vitamin D(sunshine), in front of a computer all day without making any real movements.
    Even on weekends we have kids playing Nitendo and what-not instead of being outdoors playing, which again contributes to the increasing obesity problem with children, along with of course a lousy diet.
    However, of course modern technology DOES have its advantages and conveniences, but I think we need to find a balance between the cyber and “real” world so while we can enjoy emails and IM’s, we at the same time don’t neglect how important physical social contact with friends and family is as well, so we can have the best of both worlds and enjoy their benefits. 🙂

  5. Trevor says:

    Balance is always the key.

    It’s just a case of each of us recognising what our personal balance is, and then acting on it!

    Sometimes easier said than done.

  6. Lisamarie says:

    True, too. 🙂

  7. Laurie says:

    Well folks, it sounds like “back when I was a kid”…..The world is changing, technology is changing, and humans are changing. Think of the social justice, spiritual, and information that is being shared like never before around the world. Stimulation of communication. We still need human interaction – the impulse for creation is not gone yet, but computers are not going to go away. Remember when rock-n-roll was the work of the “devil”?? And yes, I still enjoy a real hard-back book from the library and the morning newspaper…

  8. CJ Burton says:

    That’s a very funny thought Laurie. However, I can refute that sentiment on a personal level, as many of the thoughts I had mentioned in my statement, were things I was thinking about when I was 16 years old. Also, I was born in the late 70’s, so just to let you know where I’m at personally, it isn’t a case of “Damn these kids today”, or “whatever happened to the good ‘ol days”. I’m all about advancement. But one has to wonder what is really advancing and what is really taking a step in the wrong direction.

    You are right about one thing indeed, computers or technology; neither is going to go away. But the question is: How is it effecting us on an emotional/spiritual/physical level, and how can we continue to use it in our own lives to make it “less” destructive, to promote growth, instead of the opposite, which happens all too often.

    However, if a person isn’t aware or pays no mind to personal growth, they are hardly going to care about what kind of images they ingest, or how much time they are going to spend on a social networking site. So what is the answer? I’m not sure.

    My point is, when we see how technology or many social networking sites (in this case) is effecting the overall quality of our growth, only then will we know how we must respond as an individual. Our awareness in this area has merely just begun. We do not know the effects on the bigger picture yet, because this technology is still relatively new.

    As for Rock-n-Roll….Are you positive Elvis wasn’t the devil? 😉

  9. Jason says:

    You are so right on man. I worry about this too. Everyone seems to be so inundated with information these days. What is it that any of us benefit from hearing about so and so eating dinner? All this information, and one has to wonder if any of it is being utilized to help living in the now.
    So much time wasted. I agree….life should be “in the now,” and not lived virtually.

    I think that those that will continue to be successful in this new social media age will be the ones that can successfully cap the online time to small amounts. They will receive the benefits of social media and avoid the pitfalls.

  10. Bobby Rock says:

    Thanks for the healthy discussion, gang.

    Yeah, it makes you wonder what everyone thought at the advent of the telephone, radio, or television. I’m sure these technologies influenced many lifestyles in ways that had folks concerned about possible unhealthy long-term effects, as well.

    It seems like the bottom line is: No – these technologies are not going anywhere. And yes – we all must find some kind of balance in our participation in these technologies. This will be an ongoing process, I would guess…

    BR

  11. Tracey H. says:

    What I find interesting is that I admit to texting on my phone and sending a lot of emails. As I look back I realized that I started doing most of these social network things as a way to stay in touch with my friends kids. We had a deal with their mom that they could start up a myspace or a facebook account but they had to allow me to be their friend and let me in on what was going on in their lives. I was their “observer” just in case things started to get out of line or whatever. They trusted me enough to know that I wouldn’t panic over every little thing they did as teenagers who were testing boundaries but they also knew I’d step in if it was dangerous or out of hand.

    Over time I stopped talking on the phone and started to prefer email or texting as it allowed me a chance to define when and where I was able to be reached. I could answer in my own time and so could the other person. My friends who know me know that they can call and that I’ll call them right back in any emergency but the rest of the time I like to ensure that I am able to focus on my own space and thoughts. I get cranky with too much distraction.

    As for facebook and myspace – I go through my phases with them. I sometimes get lost in a game or challenge and then grow tired after a week or two. I haven’t been on myspace in months and facebook has simply been a quick way for my entire family to stay updated and in touch with the various things going on in our family. It saves us a ton of time rather than calling up everyone and relaying the same information over and over.

    I do agree though – that many of these things can suck away your life if you allow them to. You have to remember to step away and that there is a world outside the window and outside of the computer. Balance …

  12. heather says:

    Seems like so many people are willing to sacrifice QUALITY for QUANTITY of personal (?) interaction with social media. Personally, I’m a big fan of chatting over tea or coffee, and tend to limit my online communication to those friends I don’t see on person often. For long-distance friendships, it’s pretty wonderful, but if you’re in the next room and you TEXT me???
    Seriously, walk into the kitchen & ask what I’m cooking . If you’re lucky, you might get a taste 🙂
    In related sadness…all this light pollution at night…one of the biggest meteor showers of the year and I had to drive 30 miles to get a good view. Makes me sad to think how many kids grow up never seeing the full glory of the night sky…

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