People have this image that Yoga Teachers are happy, fit and flexible people. And if you are not aware of the influence other people’s opinions have over you, you might start to believe that too. Because we want to fulfil other people’s expectations. Because we want to do it right and be part of that group. By turning your practice into your profession, dynamics change. You are under more pressure and in the end you might forget why you have started all along. This article is about how powerless we are when it comes to social influence and should help you answer the question: Is Social Media use worth it?
It is impossible to deny that we are shaped by our social environment. Our behaviour, our beliefs and even how we think.
A little exercise:
Describe who you are using an adjective.
whatever adjective you use, the interpretation needs a social component. If I state “I am kind”, then my definition of “kind” refers to values I have acquired and the comparisons I make.
An interesting experiment about not even noticing how social influence can trick our brain is from Moscovici und Personnaz (1980). They had groups identify the colour of slides. All slides were an obvious shade of blue. Each one in the group exclaimed the colour they saw and then wrote down privately the after-image. The after-image shows the complementary colour of what you see, which is yellow for blue and purple for green.
One person in the group was part of the experimenter’s team. He persistently claimed that the slide was green. Interesting was that the after-image of some participants changed to purple, which indicates that they have actually seen green.
Obviously, this experiment is far away from a real-world setting. My point is that – like it or not– we are influenced by others. Especially in situations where we feel uncertain when we believe another person is holding a piece of information we don’t have.
Why do we use social media?
Social Media (SM) is a tool for promotion. But, in all honesty, it’s also fun. We use it to fulfil our needs for connection, self-expression etc.
What is the cost?
It is a true time-eater. And whatever you are spending the time with, will shape you. Influence your way of thinking and acting. Can you open SM and not compare yourself? You influence and get influenced.
A meta-analysis from 2019 found that SM use is correlated to lessened self-esteem. Significant correlations were also found between the time spent on social networks as well as the comparisons one makes there and depression.
Have you ever asked yourself what you are promoting?
Some might say we are only responsible for ourselves and I am open to entering a discussion here. I believe that as soon we are aware of the influence we hold, we do have a social responsibility. What am I promoting when I present myself as mostly sexy and happy?
Will more people feel intimidated, or inspired?
Groups have established norms and we might feel more belonging when we conform to what everyone else does. But do these group norms align with our personal values?
My last question is:
Does Social Media Use interfere with the practice of Yoga?
Using SM makes me think more about myself, in a superficial way. It contradicts what I am practising, which are things like being present and defeating an over-identification with my ego.
The effects SM has on you depend on your character. People with low self-esteem are more prone to be influenced and more likely to experience the negative consequences of SM use.
Thank you for reading!
Have a brilliant day.
And don’t be shy about leaving a comment. xx Marie
- (1) Yoon, S., Kleinman, M., Mertz, J., & Brannick, M. (2019). Is social network site usage related to depression? A meta-analysis of Facebook–depression relations. Journal of affective disorders, 248, 65-72. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032718321700
- (2) Vahedi: Social Networking Site Use and Self-Esteem: A Meta-Analytic Review (2019) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336797402_Social_Networking_Site_Use_and_Self-Esteem_A_Meta-Analytic_Review