What Hatha Yoga with Rudra Taught Me About the “Like” Button

A friend of mine from back in the day (Y-town for LIFE) recently posted an interesting entry on her blog and it got me thinking for days. It just kept popping back and back and back into my head. I loved what she said, but I also had a million alternative thoughts about the topic floating around and kind of wanted to write a rebuttal. It’s one thing to just come out here to this space and point-by-point rebut someone like Matt Walsh whose goal in life seems to be to get people riled up (and is he ever good at it!), but it’s different when it’s the musings of a friend… so I asked her what she thought.

I hemmed and hawed about it for a while because I didn’t want her to think I was some sort of jerk, but I just felt like I had so much to say and I wanted to discuss… here… with you… I finally got up the courage to send her a message while I sat on the runway in Lacrosse waiting to be re-fueled and re-flight planned and was just about out of things to do so I messaged Kacey. Her response was so excellent! She was totally cool with me running with her topic du jour (she’s kind of just cool like that in general) and so here we go! (Let’s check real quick on the jerk thing… Kacey? Or perhaps we should wait until the end…)

 

Kacey’s basic premise, and please forgive me if I’m misinterpreting, was that social media platforms like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, tend to be self-centered and focused on a culture of “look at me!” … that the desire for shares and likes and comments and such is really a desperate need to be acknowledged. And that that’s why many of us do it– to get the like or the comment or the share, to be acknowledged.

I don’t necessarily disagree, exactly, my rebuttal is more the notion that, at least in my mind, that all of that is ok. It’s ok to ask people to acknowledge you. (Hence the large number of times I’ve actually used the phrase “ACKNOWLEDGE MEEEEE!” both in this space and in real life… it’s like Kacey was speaking directly to me!)

It was so interesting to me that Kacey and I could do the same thing (blog) and use the same types of social media and ultimately take away such a different message from it. I was fascinated by that and I kept turning the notion of WHY that was over and over and over in my head until I think I finally stumbled upon something when I received an email reply from my long lost friend Lotisha who is Pauly-Shore-style in the army now. Literally.

Lotisha and I were labmates back in DC and I just adore her. She’s the tiniest person with the biggest attitude and after I got over being terrified of her I realized that I actually looooved her. And one of the things Lotisha and I loved to do together (besides give mice gonorrhea) was take fitness classes. Mostly through Montgomery County. And it was with Lotisha that I took my first ever yoga class. Hatha Yoga with Rudra.

I went into yoga class expecting a workout with emphasis on strength and flexibility. Rurda, however, was a sweatpants-wearing, afro-haired, Costa-Rica-yoga-retreat-bound man who was way into yoga as a practice, not just as an exercise, and during our first class he taught us what the word namaste meant.

According to Rudra, saying namaste to someone else or even to yourself was equivalent to saying “I salute the inner light within you.” I of course looked it up after that and it’s hard to say if that’s true exactly, except that it is widely acknowledged as a respectful greeting or goodbye. Regardless, I like what Rudra said. A lot. (Now. Then I was all “oh snap, this is weird, I don’t think I like it,” but I was wrong as I so often find myself to be.) And I think, to me, the “like” button is really more of a namaste button– a way to acknowledge the “inner light” of another person’s activity, selfie, food choice, witty quip, photo-of-babies-doing-baby-stuff, whatever. The thing about it, whatever it is, that resonates with me.

 

Of course like any other living, breathing human, Facebook also infuriates me at times. It incites major jealousy, constantly feeding my little green monster (30-ish? on Facebook? there’s LOTS of babies, of which I can have none). And, although this may surprise you, this big square head of mine doesn’t often photograph very well and the pictures I do end up posting tend to be the very best chin down, tongue-to-roof-of-mouth, least squinty eyed, minimal frizz, good angle photos that happen. When given the opportunity to paint yourself, why not paint your best self… the self you feel most comfortable with? Leave the dirty laundry for the old blog.

The important thing, for me anyway, is the attitude I choose to approach it with. I can’t possibly be the only one painting my best face out there… which means other people probably aren’t always as gorgeous/happy/un-double-chinned as they appear. Right? (Although I suspect the babies are for the most part real. The monster! So green!) The thing is, I see these perfect posts, these lovely brush strokes on social media because I choose to and because I enjoy it. I am apparently totally cool with voyeurism and I love to see what people are up to. I also love that it keeps me connected with people I otherwise wouldn’t be connected to. Like Kacey! And her blog!

Even amongst the perfect pictures and the happy statuses though, we do still catch glimpses of the truth. And when we recognize those things, those little winks that were meant just for us, we can acknowledge them in another way altogether– it’s the behind-the-scenes connections that might be a little more meaningful.

Because of Facebook, I re-connected with Dawn. Erika recognized my hurt and cheers me on day after day. Kacey and I are blog buddies. Nicole and I became friends, like real friends, long after college.

Because of Twitter, I got a couple blog posts re-tweeted by the Chris Lema and traffic, traffic, traffic on account. It let me keep up with my friend Dr. Kanth on his interview journey.

Because of Instagram, I get to keep up with #ohellabella and to see a #dailydoseofaddisyn. I also get sneak peaks into Mindy Kaling‘s life (yessss!).

And because of this blog, regardless of whether you like it, read it, share it, comment on it… or not… I have an outlet. I can share my words with anyone who happens to stumble across them. I share my ideas with people who are free to agree or disagree. Read on or roll their eyes. Whatevs.

 

That’s the beauty of the internet. It’s let’s us connect.

Or not.

 

Namaste.

Or keep scrolling.

 

You choose.

 

End rebuttal.

 

How about now, Kacey? Not a jerk, right? Just more rambling along the same lines. We’re all friends here 🙂

5 thoughts on “What Hatha Yoga with Rudra Taught Me About the “Like” Button

  1. I totally agree with you, Rachel. This made me think of when you were in college and I was able to feel connected to you by the little tidbits you left on your IM away message. I enjoy reading all statuses, with their coded messages and silly pics and memes. I really enjoy the food, kid, and travel pics! For the purests, log off.

  2. Not jerky at all!!! 🙂 It’s always okay to have different opinions, and really, we don’t differ a whole lot on this subject. My blog entry at the time was a little ranty, and playing devil’s advocate for some of it… I was just musing. I go back and forth where some days I’m so grateful for facebook and some days I loathe it.

    I wasn’t necessarily trying to say everyone who has a blog is self-centered, or anyone who posts a selfie needs attention. I just find it interesting that those things are social norms (the daily status, the daily photo) and yet some people still seem to look down on it. (This was right after a friend compared my blog to her teenage diary, implying immaturity, and another friend who I was encouraging to write a blog said she could never keep a blog because she just can’t write about herself like that- implying it would seem full of herself.)

    The thing is, I really do appreciate how blogs and facebook keep us involved in family/friends’ lives and allow us to reconnect (such as we’re doing!). I was recently visiting friends and family in MI and it was so much easier to know what important things to ask about because facebook keeps me updated. And yet, being someone who moved away a few years ago from my hometown (with some friends I’d had since childhood!) I’m always trying to gauge how close my friendships are now that I don’t see them often, and fb makes that trickier. I have some friends whom I considered very close 4 years ago that I never hear from on the phone, or e-mail, or more “personal” modes of communication….but they’ll “like” a facebook status or picture. I guess that’s where I get sore about the social media thing. It makes it easier for some to be a passive friend, at least according to my definition. Does that make sense? Clearly this is my own personal issue, lol.

    I AM glad we can all share our lives, feel a part of a larger community, and be a support to one another from any distance. But I think sometimes it just takes more, especially when as you say, we only showcase our best on fb or instagram. How do we know when things are really hard if all we see is that edited fb status? There has to be a more personal connection. Just my thoughts! 🙂 And thank you for yours!

  3. Let me also make very clear: Your blog is important and necessary! Your blog is honest and gutsy, and I believe someone out there you don’t even know is reading it right now and going through the same things you are. If you can touch even one stranger with your blog that is AMAZING. What you are putting out into the universe matters.

  4. I Have this conversation at LEAST weekly with someone and I think both of you are right (as it seems like both of you think too!). I love words and I love using them for good, so even those edited posts can make a difference and even recognizing all the pros and cons I’m so grateful for this space among others! Great post and topic!

  5. I like this post Rachel. I don’t follow facebook, etc. as much as many others because I work on computers all day and it is physically hard on the eyes. Like anything, social media can become and addiction (try giving it up for one week and see one’s reaction). There are people at work who are viewing text messages, etc. while standing at the urinal. I guess if you can’t even take a pee without viewing social media then that might be a problem.

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