Love it or hate it, we live in an Instagram world. My feelings about social media have gone back-and-forth and in this episode, I share some of the darker sides of social media and how it affects our brain chemistry, detracting us from our highest selves. If you spend any time on Instagram, you’ll want to listen to this episode.
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Episode 198 – Why We All Need a Social Media Break with Sahara Rose
By Sahara Rose
Namaste. My name is Sahara Rose and welcome back to the “Highest Self” podcast. A place where we discuss what makes you your soul’s highest evolvement.
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I am recording this episode before I take off to my wedding in Hawaii and honeymoon in Fiji, where I am unplugging from social media for three weeks, and am so excited because I’ve actually never done this before. You see, I started blogging about eight years ago. I was one of the OGs, like before blogging was cool, in fact, it was really freaking weird. And with the blog, the moment Instagram opened I created an Instagram for “Eat Feel Fresh,” which was my blog, and have been posting ever since, I mean really have barely missed a couple days.
There are definitely times that I’ve deleted Instagram, but within two days I’ll download it again. And you know, imagine if you did anything every day for eight years. That would be a lot. You know, I would be definitely fluent in French by now if I had put as much time into French or anything in my life—coding, building rocket ships—as I have into social media.
Now I don’t regret it at all because social media is how I’m connecting with you. I mean, if it wasn’t for that time and effort I put into it, you wouldn’t be here listening right now. And it is the vehicle that we’re receiving and sharing information in today’s world, and I’m eternally grateful to be incarnate at this time with the internet and the democratization of information, and at the same time, it’s really screwing with our brains.
So I’m someone that, you know, people would talk about how social media’s so detrimental, and I would be like, “I don’t know, I feel like it’s fine.” I feel like I follow people who are positive and uplifting, and when I go on my Instagram feed, and I read these posts, they’re beautiful about the new moons, and people’s vulnerabilities, and everyone I follow is really high vibe, and most of them are really my friends in real-life. So I never felt that like, “Social media’s destroying the world” kind of thing.
Until recently—not that I think it’s destroying the world—but I’ve begin to look more at the shadow side of it. And I noticed, because right now I’m writing my next book, which I’m very excited to share with you about, and I noticed that the moment that I would get stuck I would get blocked, I would just go directly on my phone on Instagram. And this would be like ten times in an hour, and then the moment I was on Instagram I would stay on there for 30 minutes, easily, and not even know what I was doing just from one story to the next, to the next, just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, looking for what? I don’t even know.
You know, it’s like when you open up the fridge and you’re not really hungry, and you think you’re going to surprisingly find something really good that you somehow were unaware of until this moment and you’re not finding it, so you’re still just kind of like opening and closing the fridge until you’ve decided what you’re gonna do, like that is us in social media.
So we’re scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, looking to find, I don’t know, insight, inspiration, a reason to get off, a reason to take action. But nothing, no post, no inspirational quote, no meme is ever enough. It’s never that one thing that’s like, “I got the inspiration that I needed, I’m going to go back to writing my book.” But it’s like opening up this portal that takes you deeper and deeper and deeper into it that you actually forget everything that you were doing before.
And I noticed that I was doing this, using Instagram as a clutch to escape when my work would get hard. And then I would start to notice just how often throughout the day I would be on it. You know, wake up, say what I’m grateful for, do my intentions, and then something would try to itch me to open up Instagram. And then I’d be doing my yoga practice, and then I would think about Instagram. And then I’d be waiting for the elevator and log on Instagram. And sitting at the stoplight and going on Instagram. Every lull moment in my life I would numb with Instagram, or my email, or something on my phone.
And then I went to this talk, and this guy used to work in social media actually designing Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, et cetera. And he said, “If I were to tell you some of the brain tricks they are playing on you guys with these apps, you would be afraid to get on there.” And he said legally he couldn’t tell us everything, but one thing he did share with us that they’re using on social media as a tactic is they hire people who create—you know those, those virtual gambling machines, like the electronic slot machines in Vegas? So they hired those people to work on Instagram to try to make it as addictive as possible because the more time we spend on the app, the more money the app is worth because time is dollars, right?
So if you’ve ever noticed when you go on Instagram, it kind of takes a second to upload and tell you how many likes and comments you got. And most of us would just assume that it’s just lagging, but that’s actually something that they did on purpose. And the reason why is because when you go on and you’re waiting for that second, your mind immediately thinks, “Did I get any likes? Did I get any comments? Does anyone love me? Does anyone care? Am I worthy of attention?” And then finally, when it goes, “You have 20 likes, and 14 comments,” it feels like jackpot! I got it! I got something! People care! And every single time you go on, you hit jackpot.
And that’s actually why they don’t show your post to everyone at the same time. You know, I could post something and one person may see it instantly, and one person may see it six hours from now. And they actually purposely have people seeing your post at different times so every time you log on the app, you’re getting likes and comments. This is all very clearly orchestrated to make us addicted.
So every single time we’re going on we’re getting some sort of hit of dopamine. So essentially they’ve created this app to be addictive the same way a drug is, and they’re using our neurological propensities against us. Because they know how our brains work, they know how we are so wired for attention so they can design this app based off of our desire to be wanted and acknowledged, then they’re gonna win. And what price do we pay? Our present moment, our productivity, our happiness, our ability to connect and relate to others. I would say it’s a pretty high price.
You know, genius comes in moments of boredom, and most of us haven’t given ourselves a chance to be bored since the new millennium. And a lot of you guys are born after the new millennium. So do you remember as a kid when you would be on a long car trip and you would just like stare out the window, and you would like imagine yourself jumping on the cars, or you would stare at the sky, or even a white wall and look at the paint on the wall and imagine little faces in there?
Kids don’t do that anymore. Most kids are never bored because the moment they’re bored they’re handed an iPad that goes (imitates start-up sound) and stimulates some mega-cartoon to them so they are occupied. But they’re not using the same brain chemistry as they would be if they had a blank piece of paper and had to draw something on there. Because drawing something comes from your own creativity. You have to do the work, you have to create that thing. Even if you’re reading a book, the book is just a white piece of paper with black letters on there that you have to read to create images in your mind. You’re using your actual brain to experience the entertainment.
And now we just have these screens in front of us that are constantly moving, constantly flashing, that we don’t have to do any of the work. So we are actually in this numb, dull, brain-dead state, and we’re equating that to entertainment. When we’re killing opportunities for creativity and the potential growth of our brain in the meantime. And this isn’t just for kids, I feel like a lot of the social media conversation is revolved around how harmful it is around kids. And, yes, they are the ones that are forming their brains at this time, and it is of extreme importance, but our brains are also constantly being transformed and reshaped based off of our everyday habits.
So you may be 40 years old when you discovered social media, and you can still be extremely addicted to it; it’s not just the kids. Because our brains can adapt to any kind of reaction, and that’s essentially what social media is giving us, an opportunity to react, attention, hate, ambiguity, there’s so much in there. And we can keep scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling because our brains are like getting hits of information of stimulation that, you know, if you started at the wall you wouldn’t get. If you started at the wall, you would eventually get somewhere way deeper than there, and that’s from going deeper inside your thoughts.
You know, today, we get more information in—I think it’s six months—than people a hundred years ago did in their lifetimes. You know, we’re so hungry for information that we’re just like, “More, more, more. I need to know everything from what the Kardashians are doing to what’s the latest in the food industry, to this, that.” We want more and part of it is beautiful and part of it is what is it for? Do we really need to know what everyone is doing—from your college roommate, to Jennifer Aniston, to everyone in between?
You know, as humans we are social creatures, but social media is using it against us to make us addicted to the harmful parts, which are gossip, and comparison, and forget about the meaningful parts, which is being there for one another, and holding space, and things that only human connection can bring you.
You know, I feel like we feel like we’re being really vulnerable when we share a vulnerable Instagram post, but when is the last time you got that vulnerable in person with a friend? I feel like people are going to Instagram for things that they should be going to humans about. And our society right now, I feel like especially in social media, it went from being super, super curated, to now a battle of who can be the most vulnerable. Who can share the shittiest thing that happened to them that day. Who can share the juiciest detail about that fight with their boyfriend. Who can share what a mess their life is even to a more detailed extent, right?
And the same part of us that likes celebrity gossip wants that. We want to know, “Oh yeah, it’s hard for you. That makes me feel better about my life. Ooh yeah, I want to know that you have fat days, too. Oh yeah, I want to know about you and your boyfriend getting into fights because it makes me feel better about me and my boyfriend getting into fights.”
And it’s great, it’s awesome that people are getting more vulnerable, and I’m totally for it. But this actually should be happening in real life, this should be happening in sister circles, this should be happening in friendships. The only place that we’re getting vulnerable shouldn’t be on social media where we may have alternative motives to be using it for more likes. You know, like I have a lot of influence friends, and the talk is, “Who can share who had the shittiest day today because that’s going to get the most number of likes.” And I know a lot of people who’ve built their followings just based off of this kind of negative, self-deprecating/vulnerable posting that is actually only used to get attention. When really what you need is more affection.
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And, as an additional bonus, I am offering a webinar where I will teach you how to use social media to create a thriving career as a health coach. On top of that, I have created a private Facebook community just for the “Highest Self” podcast listeners who are becoming health coaches to connect with each other, meet up with each other, and support one another on this journey. So if you’re interested, send an email over to sahara, S-A-H-A-R-A-, @eatfeelfresh.com with subject “IIN.” Again, email@example.com with subject “IIN.” And I will personally send you back the email that will allow you to get a $1,500 off discount, as well as my business coaching webinar, and the private Facebook group. I’m so excited for you to begin your journey as a health coach.
So I’m seeing more and more of that shadow side of social media, and it’s something that can be overcome, and I think the only way to really get a clear head around it is to take a break at least every now and then. So what I started playing around with recently is deleting Instagram for a couple days. So, you know, if I’m working on something I’ll delete it and maybe download it later so I could do it, you know, downloading Instagram is not that hard, guys. People are like (gasping), “You deleted Instagram,” like you can redownload it in about three seconds and it’s right back, you don’t even need to type in your password again if that’s what you’re worried about.
So if you’re working on something, you can delete it and come back to it. Give yourself a couple days, and I think having it not on your phone really allows you to see how often you want to reach for it. Because when it’s not on your phone, then you catch yourself like going exactly to where Instagram used to be on your phone, and you’re like, “Uh, ugh, it’s not there.” And then you start to notice why am I going to this dopamine hit? Why am I going to this escape? Is it when I’m bored, frustrated, sad, lonely? I mean the same reasons why we emotionally eat, we emotionally Instagram.
And I think it’s also important to take longer breaks from it too, and that’s why, you know, when I was planning this wedding, I was like I was not sure should I be on social media, should I be doing Stories because I want to share it, and I want to make everyone who follows me a part of it. And at the same time, I want it to be a sacred experience for myself, and I don’t want to look back and be like, “Wow, I was on my phone the entire time sharing stories for people I don’t even know,” you know?
And it’s not just me, all of us do this. How many of you guys have been at a concert and not looked at the actual performer, but rather watch them through your iPhone screen the entire time so you could take a video, and put it on Instagram, for a bunch of people who weren’t at the concert, most of which you don’t know. You know, why? And so then that person can feel like shit that they’re not at the concert? Like who is this even serving? It’s not actually helping that person. I’ve never actually felt like I participated in a concert from watching it on someone’s Instagram story. In fact, I’m like, “Next, next, next, next. I don’t want to watch this.” And that person just missed out on an epic concert thinking they were doing me a favor. It’s not.
So imagine I did that on my wedding, you know, imagine what I’d be missing out on. People would be like, “Oh God, another picture of her at her wedding? Another video?” So I decided to not be on Instagram that week before and during my wedding, as well as my full honeymoon, which is two weeks in Fiji, and it’s on a deserted island where we’re going to be totally out of touch with society, and I’m even deleting the email app from my phone, pre-recorded the podcast, got everything lined up, told everyone that I now that I could potentially be working with that I’m not going to be online for these three weeks. So if there’s anything you need me to do, let’s talk about it before, or we’ll talk about it after.
And I know you may be thinking, “Oh, I can’t do that in my job,” and I totally shouldn’t be able to do it in my job, right? I have two podcasts coming out a week, Instagram posts every single day, Stories coming out ten to 20 times a day, like my life is literally revolved based around me reporting what I’m doing every single day. So if I’m able to do it, so can you. And most of us—I mean if you live in the U.S., you need to have some sort of paid vacation, that is a law in this country. So instead of taking that paid vacation, and going to some all-inclusive, and taking pictures of you eating a bunch of tacos, use it for some time off.
And I think for all of us, just as a society, we’re constantly wired in that we’ve delineated the blurs of when we’re online and when we’re offline. You know, people back in the day when we just had desktop computers at our offices, people would send emails at work and then you didn’t have access to your email until the next day when you went back to work. Like there was no interacting with your clients, or your boss, or anyone after work. You couldn’t, you don’t share each other’s personal phone numbers. And now, I’m emailing, and they’re responding me til like midnight every night.
So not only does that mean I’m working, that means everyone who I’m interacting with is also working late. People are emailing back and forth on the weekends, during holidays. You know, oftentimes I do it too, I feel like, “Oh, it’s the weekend, I’m gonna get ahead on all my emails.” But actually what we’re doing is just pressuring other people to also be on during the weekends, and it’s just creating this system that we’re always plugged in. And when you’re always just receiving, and regurgitating information, you’re not stepping into your highest self because that highest self can only happen when you’re deeply anchored into your truth, and you’re receiving information straight from source.
And when it gets convoluted with emails, and Instagram posts, and Facebook messages, and whatever else, you go from this high channeled state to this low, almost like ping-pong match state where you’re like, “Okay, let me hit that message back, and they’re hitting me this one, and it’s like ping, ping, ping, ping, ping.” And it’s just this back and forth, back and forth that never ends.
That’s your reptilian brain, your lower brain, which is the part of us that is based off of simple survival. How can I survive by sending these emails, by putting out these posts, by doing whatever it is that we think we need to survive, which is actually not the truth because you actually don’t need any of this. You can get off social media, you’ll live totally fine, but we’ve equated it with survival.
But when we can step away from that ping-pong match and step into that full channeled state, where we’re disconnected from all the noise, and we’re reconnecting to our internal whisper, this is when we can access our highest selves. This is when the good ish happens. You’ll see yourself, I challenge you, to delete Instagram, or Facebook, or whatever it is, social media that you find yourself using. And you’ll notice, the next day your thoughts are still kind of like, “Aw, I want to go on Instagram. I wonder what all my friends are doing.”
And after a couple days, you’re not even going to think about it anymore. And you’re gonna be like, “Holy crap, I’m so much less anxious, I’m so much less reactive, I’m so much less on edge and worried because this constant being plugged in and over-stimulated with information was keeping in the survival state, and now I’m able to use my higher brain.” And you’re gonna be more productive, you’re gonna be more creative, you’re gonna be creating straight from source.
So I am super excited to give myself the opportunity to fully do that for three weeks. The first time, really, in my adult life ever. I mean even before Instagram I was on Facebook, I was on MySpace, I’ve been on social media every single day of my freaking life. So I’m not saying that social media’s gonna prevent you from growing, I would say I’ve definitely grown in my lifetime, and I’ve still been on social media. But I do think we need those periods off. We need to remember what life was like before. And we need to reconnect with our true internal Wi-Fi. That which is always connected with universal source consciousness, and that which can always give us the answers that Google never, ever can.
So instead of looking for something on your Instagram, on the Story, on Google, on whatever it is, just let yourself come up with the answer yourself. Release yourself from the desire to know what everyone around you is doing at all times. Let yourself simply be. Challenge yourself to go on walks without your phone, to go on a grocery run, to go to the bank. You know, most of us will literally get in the car and realize we forgot our phones, and turn away, and get back upstairs to go get our phones because we don’t even know how to grocery shop without it.
Do you guys remember back then when you would like literally travel to different countries and you didn’t have your phone, you would just hope that you would find the hotel, or that someone was going to pick you up from the airport? Do you guys remember when you would say you were gonna meet someone at 4:00 in the mall and neither of you had a phone, so you better show up at 4:00, otherwise that person’s just gonna be waiting there forever.
You know, that doesn’t happen anymore. We’re so reliant on our phones, whether it’s getting us on the GPS, or telling everyone where we are at all times, that we forget what it’s like to just be humans on our own. I notice instantly when I give myself a couple days off social media, I am creating from such a higher and more evolved state. And I think all of us should have this experience. Simply to be the way that you were designed to be. You know, you are not designed to be in constant communication with everyone you’ve ever met that’s ever been in human existence—the billion-plus people who are on social media. You are not meant to be in contact with all of them.
It’s great that we can know what people are doing, that we can see dance moves from different countries; I’m all about it. But also, when we’re waking up in the morning, and the first thing we’re doing is to see strangers’ posts instead of asking ourselves how we slept, what we dreamt about, how our partner is feeling, that’s when social media begins to destroy lives, destroy relationships, destroy potentials.
Imagine where you could be right now if all of the time you spent looking at other people’s lives you spent working on your own. You know, we think that knowing what everyone else is doing is helping us, but we know way too fucking much, and it isn’t doing shit. If that were the case, the people who’d spent the most time on social media should be the most evolved because they’ve done a lot of anthropological work, right?
And they’re not. They’re the hungriest, and the most lost, and the most confused because they just want more. It’s like a drug addiction, “Dopamine, dopamine, dopamine, give me more! Because I don’t know what life will be like without it. Throw me a freaking meme here.” That’s who we’re becoming.
So I love the connection of social media, I love being able to follow my friends, and find inspiring people, and connect with people I normally wouldn’t have in my life. I’ve made awesome friendships off social media, I’ve built my career of social media. And also, I’ve become addicted to it along the way.
And that’s the duality of all things, nothing is perfect, nothing is pristine, everything has both sides. And the only way that we can find our own unique balance is to give ourselves a break from that thing. It doesn’t have to be 50/50, I mean I’ve definitely spent more days on social media than I have not, and I think for most of my life that’s gonna be the case. But if I’m afraid that people are gonna forget about me, that my voice is no longer going to matter, that the Instagram world is gonna just get too loud, and too convoluted, and I’m gonna get kicked off the island if I’m not there for a month. Then that means that I don’t value myself.
If I’m willing to give up the most important moments of my life—whether that’s my wedding, or my honeymoon, or the birth of my child, or my kids’ first day of kindergarten, or whatever else that so many of us lose ourselves over the presenting of rather than being in the moment in, then I’m not really valuing myself.
So I encourage you, if you’re listening, to delete Instagram. Whether it’s for a day, a week, a month, just to see how you feel. Just use this as an opportunity to do some research on yourself. How are you using it as a clutch? How are you shifting your thoughts based off of what you’re seeing on there? And how do you feel with it not in your life? And I would love, after you’ve done the experience of course, for you to share it with the fellow “Highest Self” podcast listeners on the “Mind Body Balancers” Facebook group. Now don’t get addicted to that shit either.
Because social media can have a lot of benefits, like connecting in a Facebook group with awesome people who have likeminded interests as you. And also, talk to your friends about it too, talk to your mom, talk to your next-door neighbor, write in a journal, think about it for yourself. Because there’s so much already that we have in our mind, so much information. You know, more information that most people had in lifetimes we have at this moment right now.
So let’s let that information simmer for a little bit. Let’s instead of bouncing from one documentary to the next, let’s think about what we’ve already seen and fully receive the juice, and the benefits, and think about it. Let’s have conversations with our friends the same way that we want to spark conversations on social media. And let’s not forget that the whole point of social media is to be social.
So I will see you on the other side of my honeymoon. I’m really looking forward to sharing with you what my experience of three weeks without social media is like, and I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you guys in the “Mind Body Balancers” Facebook group on my way back, and seeing you guys in person for my upcoming yogic path deck launch, which I’m super excited to share with you about, and will be talking to you about in a future episode, which is a project that I’ve been working on for over two years near and dear to my heart, and I’ll be doing a live event in L.A. to connect with you in person, so stay tuned for that.
If you loved this episode, I would love for you to leave a review in the Apple store. As a free gift, I will send you the first half of my unreleased book, “Eat Right For Your Mind Body Type.” Simply leave a review, take a screenshot, and send it over to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you back the first half of my unreleased book, “Eat Right For Your Mind Body Type.” Please connect with me on social media @iamsahararose. I share lots of poetry, wisdom, downloads, and all that good stuff. So I’m so looking forward to connecting with you, and for all of us living our ultimate versions of success so we can become our highest selves. Namaste.
Episode 198 – Why We All Need a Social Media Break with Sahara Rose