Knowing Yourself in a World of Smoke & Mirrors

Social media and you

Do you know where your phone is right now?

Have you missed any calls? Texts? Facebook messages, Snapchats, Twitter fights, Emails, Gchats… the list is endless. We’re not just “plugged in” anymore — we’re desperately clutching the plug to the wall. Because if we lose contact for one moment… we’re missing out.


56% of all social media users (yes, that includes me and you) suffer from FOMO. This doesn’t include the 27% who check some sort of social media site immediately upon waking.

And why? Addiction.

We have to know. Because knowing, being involved and connected is better than not… or so we’ve told ourselves.

There’s a lot of research out there on FOMO right now (we’re even obsessed with our obsessions). But no one is under the illusion that social media representation is accurate — and you shouldn’t be either.

Pop psychologist Alain de Botton has said this about Twitter:

“It denies us that precious non-specific time in which you can daydream, unpack your anxieties and have a conversation with your deeper self.”

And therein lies the cost.

We’re missing out on our self — the one thing we can count on as real in a world of online smoke and mirrors.

And… it’s not just social media. There’s no shortage of vices to keep us from thinking and reflecting too much on ourselves.

Let’s look at this in the real world.

When work is hard or life is challenging my default is to pick up my phone and distract myself with the online world. What I notice is that filling my mind up with an endless stream of distraction porn is… well, boring. But I still do it. And in doing so, I prevent my mind from the bliss of true boredom — from the wandering space of free thought.

Boredom can be remarkable. 

True boredom can be a form of meditation, freedom, space — and a key ingredient to be our most creative, inventive, and authentic selves. So why do we incessantly fill our days with superficial connections and storylines?

FOKO. Fear of knowing ourselves.

So, what can you do about this? 

  1. Acknowledgement. For me, the first step is sayin’ what’s so… that I may be using social media (in that moment) as a tool to distract myself from real life (AKA, my own reality).
  2. Give yourself space (even if it’s just a few seconds). Put the phone down. Turn off your computer. Take three deep breaths. Go for a walk. Stretch. Journal.
  3. Create a quick list. Utilize the space and quiet. Write down whatever comes to mind when you think about the New Year. What is this year about for you? Post it somewhere you can see it daily.

Will you (or I) stop visiting the online world? Of course not.

As an entrepreneur, leader, and lover of life, I want to care more about everyday authenticity than every second artificiality. And the simple awareness of why I’m defaulting to the online world has shifted my relationship with myself — and social media. It’s not going away. But it is taking a back seat.  I’ll be more mindful of when I’m choosing to connect — and what for. I’ll use social media smarter – and less.

Computer addiction

I’m committed to a deeper relationship with myself this year.

I have a feeling Twitter can’t create that for me (yet).