Solitary Confinement (or Why I Deleted the Facebook App)

My teacher, Michelle, once told me that being a yogi can be
lonely work. She said this within the context of satsang, so it seemed a little
farfetched at the time. Who could be lonely in the company of a bunch of other
happy hippies?

The thing is that for every evening I spend in ecstatic
kirtan, I spend twelve more days alone listening to Lama Marut podcasts or
obsessively designing asana sequences. Teaching a lot of yoga classes requires a
lot of personal work, and most of it is solitary business: meditating,
practicing, studying.
I recently quit my day job (teaching school) to teach yoga
and do massage full-time. My formerly super structured days are now more akin
to controlled chaos. Some days I teach five classes, some days two, some days I
travel the length and breadth of New Orleans twice, some days I scarcely leave
Mid-City.
I schedule massages in between my classes and my personal
practice in between massages. I end up with weird blocks of free time in the
middle of the day when no one else is available. When I’m not engaged in super
enlightened pursuits, I’m usually reading Game of Thrones or obsessively
checking Facebook on my phone. Sometimes I’m doing both at the same time.

If I’m being honest, I should admit that I’ve spent more
time on Facebook this summer than I have meditating. Far more time. Like I
can’t even imagine how much more time.

 

So, finally after months of checking Facebook before
classes, checking Facebook after classes, checking Facebook in lines to the
restroom and sometimes even in the restroom,
I had to ask myself, “What am I getting out of this?” I’m not sure how to
answer that question, but I’m pretty sure I’m not getting what I want out of
it.
I’m lonely. I spend a lot of time alone. I’m an introvert,
so I like to spend a lot of time alone, but I never realized how many of my
social needs were met by simply doing my work in the presence of others. Since
that is no longer the case, I am trying to fill this social vacancy with
Facebook.
But it doesn’t work.
It doesn’t work partially because, actually, Facebook is no
place for introverts like me. I have upwards of 1,900 “friends,” which makes my
Facebook experience super crowded. I hate crowds. I especially hate crowds in which
some people think it’s okay to push, and Facebook is one of those crowds.
It also doesn’t work because I am in some weird awkward
stage of personal/spiritual growth. I used to be pithy and witty and now I have
a low tolerance for small talk. So I vascillate between posting quippy,
tongue-in-cheek-statuses and posting kind of mindful statuses, neither of which
garner responses that I find engaging.

 

If I say something smart alecky, there is always someone who
takes me seriously or feels hurt or doesn’t get my sense of humor. I can
negotiate this kind of situation in person by apologizing or explaining, but
mostly it doesn’t actually happen that often because I am socially adept enough
to figure out what I can get away saying to whom most of the time.
If I say something mindful, there is always someone ready to
step up and say, “UR soooo stooopid ROFLLMAO,” and then my feelings are hurt. I make myself feel better by recognizing that probably people would be more
emotionally sensitive and in tune if we were face-to-face, just like I would
be.

 

But we aren’t face-to-face, because we are both in line
waiting for our stevia sweetened almond milk chickory brews checking Facebook.
Maybe right next to each other.
In my effort to reach out socially, I am actually more
effectively alienating myself. Instead of engaging in incidental conversations with the people I am coming into actual physical contact with I
am looking down at my phone.
WHY?
Good question. I think because it’s seemingly harder to control
what people think of you if you are actually with them IRL. You can’t curate
what they will know about you. There are no privacy settings. They know if you
have bad breath or a booger. They know that actually you don’t look anything
like your profile pic because it was taken in really good light on a skinny
good hair day.
Real life doesn’t have a filter that makes your skin look
perfect and erases your flaws. And in real life, we are terrified that people
will not like us if they see our flaws. We are scared that they will not want
to be our “friends.”
But in real life, the people we call friends are the people
who see our flaws and still love us. They are the people we love despite their
not perfect skin in bad light and not quite photogenic homes.
In other words, I use Facebook because I want to make
friends, but what I really make are “friends,” and they aren’t the same.I deleted the Facebook App from my phone so I can have totally
uncontrollable social interactions and learn to risk not being liked.

I haven’t done anything dramatic like delete my account,
though. I’m not a teetotaler. It’s fine for me to be at home checking email and
also checking Facebook. I’m just not using it instead of interacting with the people around me.
So, maybe I’ll see you around. And actually see you.

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