Thankful I was Hacked
Who have we become?
When we are so concerned about our next post that we don’t see a lamp post before tumbling (Tumblr) to the ground instantly (Instagram), while birds chirp (Twitter), our face (Facebook) covered in mud and tangled in vines (Vine, well not anymore RIP). We have lost grip, that phone is broken and flung out of our hands… and this feels scary (yet liberating) because now we see again. I understand the irony of writing about our overuse of social media and then posting this article online, but where would I reach you if you were firmly in the clutches of the obsession? I speak from experience, I felt a great pressure to post and keep up with all things social that — in the end — feel lonely and isolating for so many. I wondered why this was.
Aside from a time where I lost my phone, which I was without for a few days, it had been years since I had a real break from social media, one over a day or two. In September of 2016, my Instagram account was hacked, my pictures all deleted, and it was a blow to me. I had worked so hard to build a following. In the beginning, I resisted social media. I didn’t want to feel too exposed and felt my art and my writing meant more than pictures of myself. I still do. With time and a lot of pressure from a few sources, I decided to jump in and before I knew it I was posting all the time and always looking for opportunities to grab another shot. The amount of time I wasted doing this was ridiculous when I look back, but I bought the story I was told by those who said “you have to do it”. In no time I saw my following and number of likes per post rise. It never felt like it happened fast enough though, so I even joined paid sites that would drive more visitors to my social media accounts. So in September, when all that work was washed away by a person across the globe, I realized I was upset mainly because I was feeling I lost the time I had put in.
In the days that passed, I would feel that urge to post something and then realize I didn’t have that platform. It’s embarrassing to admit but it was a bit like addiction withdrawals. My ego had taken a big hit when I wasn’t getting that “positive” feedback anymore. I didn’t even realize I craved it. It had crept in without me knowing it but it had influenced so many of my decisions and took so much precious time. I got real with myself and started asking myself why I posted and why that account meant so much to me. My soul didn’t care about likes or shallow comments from strangers sometimes just leaving an emoji. That never meant anything to my soul. What I craved and realized I was starved for was a deep connection and social media made me feel I was getting more than I was on some level. The term “social media” is, however, not very social at all a lot of times.
Getting back to that time, I realize now that I wanted something to show for all the time I had spent chasing the wrong dreams and being addicted to social media — I desperately wanted something to show for it. It’s the same reason people resist can resist leaving a job they hate. We feel we are owed more and that to walk away now would mean we gave up or lost all that time. This is a lie of the mind. To learn is the point of life the real tragedy is when people stay, stay at a job they hate, stay a toxic relationship stay and you never allow the universe to give you what you truly desire. So this was all a revelation. I was off course — WAY OFF COURSE. When you are unhappy in life for a prolonged period of time, recognize that something isn’t right. Your emotions are here to guide you where you’re meant to be, and for each person it’s different. Social media (the way I was using it) was bad for me. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good for others. For some, it’s a great tool they use to connect with loved ones or for business. I’m also not saying I won’t ever partake in it again, but I will just be more aware of the “why am I doing it?” question and encourage you to check your motives to move away from the ego and toward what will make you truly happy.
Though being hacked and losing my Instagram was painful to my ego, it was liberating to my soul. I felt free as a bird, not feeling the need to be tweeting for everyone to hear, or checking in so often, or telling everyone everything that goes on in my life. I felt like some things were sacred again, and just for me. I was able to just be, without the need to constantly have my mind telling me post, create more content all the time. I closed down my Facebook soon after my hacking on Instagram and stopped engaging on all “social media” which hadn’t felt social at all. I had wasted hours, comparing my life to others I followed and constantly feeling pressure from agents, our society and mainly my ego to compete.
After I stopped engaging and essentially disappeared, some people noticed and would text me wondering what happened. These happened to be the people I was closest to. This was an amazing way of finding who truly cared about me. Those who didn’t ever notice I was even gone made me realize I wasn’t as connected to them and that — if I wanted to be — I would have to work harder to build those relationships. Relationships are work. Many of us want them, but want it to be a breeze that lifts them without effort. If you owned a plane, it would have to be maintained to fly. The more fuel you put in, the higher and further you could go, but if you don’t tend to it for long enough it will rust and be unusable. Tend to those you love.
Without constantly checking my phone, I found myself with a lot of free time. Early on I filled my time with meditation, as well as some slip-up distractions like gin rummy/video slots (which I now limit) and politics (what a crazy past year for politics this was), but overall I started choosing what I focused on carefully. I got in tune with how things I read and watched made me feel. Things that lifted my spirit stayed and if something or someone didn’t make me feel good most of the time, I would put distance there. Over time, I moved away from the things that caused me pain and found myself with love and joy all around me. I had more energy to explore the world, going on trip after trip and without looking at a phone screen or searching for the best background to take a pic, I mainly was just in the moment enjoying it all. I accomplished more work, had time to write and also some more to be creative (like now). I made going to the gym a top priority, less for vanity and more for how it made me feel. I learned to cook many more dishes, and nourished my body with good foods. I slept better with less stress. I read every day about things that matter and learn from people I have come to admire. I took new risks and real changes happened, I moved to a new city on the other side of the nation (literally) and saw a lot of stress disappear from my life. I found myself, loved myself and grew to be happy through being thankful.
There were times when I wanted to brag about all that I was accomplishing and doing. I wanted to post the incredible places I had visited, but I then asked myself “why?” Upon questioning the motives, it wasn’t to lift others up like this post is, but was to feel a sense of pride and to ultimately show off. When we show off, we instinctually know it’s not a loving thing to do. So, I stopped the competition I feel our society often is wrapped up in, and each time I resisted the urge the ego has shown up less often. Does he still show up in me? Yes, but far less than before and I usually spot him coming sooner.
The next thing that came was finding the power in really communicating with people. I started sharing things I really wanted to with the people I love. I would send a link to an article I read to the exact person I wanted to see it instead of just posting on my feed like I used to. I would take a picture of a building I thought a friend would this was interesting. I would share what I was learning with people I knew would be open to hearing. I made phone calls (something that was very rare for me in the past). I was giving real attention to my relationships for the first time in years. People could feel the loving energy I was sending just to them and I was receiving it back in a powerful way that I hadn’t felt in years.
I ask you now, why are you on social media? Be honest with yourself. What does it give you? What do you give to it?
Just by recognizing the “Whys” you’ll better be able to know how it’s affecting you and then you can decide if a break would be good for you, too.
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