follow your instincts, not your instagram

Have we lost ourselves to our online personalities? Is it time to reconnect with the "now" and follow our gut instinct? Writer and psychotherapist-in-training Namalee Bolle says so.

by Namalee Bolle
11 August 2017, 10:39am


This article was originally published by i-D UK.

The Kardashians may advise you otherwise, but forget surrendering your power to the gospel of fans and followers or taking too much inspo from influencers. As the maverick psychologist Carl Jung said "The value of a person is never expressed in relation to others, but exists in itself. We should never let our self-confidence or self esteem depend of the behavior of another person however much we may be humanly affected by him." Ok, it's easier said than done in the 21st century new media age where super filtered selfies and unabashed opinions run riot. But it's important to remind ourselves not to let other online entities sway us from our own personal truth — the life purpose we have without an audience. Indeed, the online struggle to keep it real, is real.

So what is it about the online universe that so artfully severs this connection with our precious intuition? Why are we easily blind-sighted when it comes to staying in touch with ourselves online? Well, in our quest to create dazzling 'personas,' social media facilitates our disconnection from what spiritual author Eckhart Tolle famously calls 'the now.' We aren't present when all our attention is fixed in cyber space, and we tend to dissociate from our bodies to mainly hang out in our head. Transfixed by "likes" we're driven into an internal frenzy of anxiety and encouraged towards overthinking and neurotic behaviour. In this state, it's easy to care too much about what others think of our status updates before we actually allow the time and space to stop, take a breath, and think about why we should even care.

The more we practice this nutty behavior, the more we fall out of the natural rhythm and language that our body has had with us for ions. The gut is actually scientifically known as the "second brain" for its intuitive ability to feel out fear based threat – aka the 'gut instinct', and even the heart is recognized as yet another brain center of intuition based responses associated with love. But how on earth how can we get touch with this deepest knowing when we so are overwhelmed?

"Certainly if we take the time out to consider how we choose to use it, rather than letting it use (and abuse) us, we can certainly begin to feel more satisfied with our creative output."

If we are to use social media healthily, as the helpful tool it can be, we should not underestimate the way it can silently stifle creative advancement. "It's turned artists into marketing executives," says artist and electronic composer E.M.M.A. "Social media removes you from the natural; intimacy, the passage of time, real human interactions — it's as if it's professing to be entirely what it isn't. When I want to be creative I have to remove myself from it and be very strict about the variables I let in."

Certainly if we do take the time out to consider how we choose to use it, rather than letting it use (and abuse) us, we can certainly begin to feel more satisfied with our creative output. By continuing to use it aimlessly and without self-regulation, we become controlled by other people's emotional energy rather than our own instinctive choices. Spiritual creatrix and YouTube rebel Kelly-Ann Maddox has developed her own successful method for harnessing the beast while still remaining a prominent online persona, "Whenever I follow the 'accepted wisdom' on how much to prioritize social media, I end up feeling burned out and resentful. I need to listen to myself and follow my own nose. I don't repeat the same content across platforms and I don't have someone else running my social media for me. I post when I feel like connecting and nothing is rigorously planned. I want my platforms to act as a way to access more of me online rather than purely as a means to direct people to paid services. I want to feel inspired by social media rather than turned off by it. Sometimes I leave my platforms for days without posting anything because that's honest. I don't always feel like posting or have time." Limiting the amount of easy access available by creating media free zones and turning off over stimulative phone apps can also lead to a more productive and considered relationship with the medium.

And if you are still wondering how it's possible to exist on social without turning into a Insta-clone, just look to A$AP Rocky, leader of the no-fucks-given route who famously lost 100,000 Instagram followers when he threw caution to the wind by championing the use of an arty collage in ways that clearly offended many traditional users. When you possess the self-belief not to care about numbers, allowing self-expression and artistic integrity to reign, social media can be played more like a game rather than a pressure to conform. You never know, pursuing your own true vision regardless of the response, could even make Insta-history…

Read: A five point guide to overcoming Insta-xiety.

mental health
Social Media
namalee bolle