“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” The Social Media Debate, Davos, and Legacy

By January 24, 2018 One Comment

I think I am addicted. To social media. I have been checking my Instagram a little too obsessively lately —despite the fact that I have been listening to advice and warnings about the damage this modern-day luxury/drug is inflicting upon humanity. My “Notifications” have been switched off. That hasn’t stopped me from checking my phone every 15 minutes. My husband arranged an intervention for me last weekend. He asked me to try to go through an entire day without checking social media. It was hell. When I finally could check my phone in the evening —it wasn’t day anymore technically— I saw a message from a social media marketing company. It caught my eye because it was personal, and sweet. It was supportive —they want me! So I read it carefully. I even answered, saying I would think about it. The following is a detailed account of my thinking.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

Mother Teresa

For a special deal of $38 a month, I can potentially grow my Instagram followers from 300-3,000 monthly. That is not including likes and comments.

For $38 a month, with help from well-meaning experts, I can create a “buzz” so that my content is seen by thousands. Thousands like me paying $38 monthly for likes and comments —and followers. Thousands whose accounts are managed by the same well-meaning experts double-tapping likes and sending emojis in response to content they do not read. (Not much happening in the figurative feeding department, of course, but who cares?)

What would Mother Teresa say about “sofa activism” and social media, I wonder. “If you cannot reach 100 followers, then just reach one”? Or “If you cannot reach 10,000 followers, get off social media or hire yourself a well-meaning expert.” For $38.

Social media, like most things, is an area I know little about. And also like most things in my life these days, it is highly contentious and requiring a “final answer.” The public discussion heats up around January of every year when content on “cleansing” and “detoxification” floods the web. Many of my friends —the real and virtual— have recently gotten off social media (on social media incidentally) in their quest to rediscover themselves in the Palaeolithic format nourished by their Palaeolithic diet.

The results have been astounding. A few days into it, they speak of an enviable sense of liberation and new-found time to do “worthy” things —like feeding people. They seem genuinely happier —and curious. They are engaged in their conversations and really excited about having coffee with me to hear my news —announced long before on social media. Some speak of more focus, efficiency, and creativity at work. They have better quality sleep. They wake up energized and even excited to exercise. They will need a blood work-up to see the impact on their cholesterol and stress levels. Eventually, someone updates them on Kim and Kanye’s new baby name. The sun continues to rise every morning, and set every evening. All in all, there have been no ill effects reported, other than a slight delay in their horror response to Trump’s tweets.

Before my husband gets excited at the prospect of shutting down my social media accounts, let me also acknowledge that social media has allowed me to share my work with a wider audience around the world. It has given me the platform to self-publish and promote my writing —albeit to the 33 subscribers to my blog! It has also been a valuable source of news and information on politics, art, books, yoga, film, you name it. Through social media, I have made new virtual friendships, reconnected with old friendships, and re-ignited long-distance friendships. I have discovered people of interest in fields of interest. (How do Google, Facebook, and Instagram know I am a plant-based, yoga-obsessed, inspiration-seeking, woo woo-disenchanted crazy with one foot in Vancouver and the other in Amman? Algorithms are incompatible with my brain software.)

I discovered recently that according to the psychology of human needs, I rate “significance” and “contribution” highly. Similarly, Buddhist psychology identifies seven psychological characteristics: life, order, wisdom, love, power, imagination, understanding, and will. Approaching contentious —and non— issues from the perspective of human needs allows one to see the “real,” higher-vibration picture. Placing value on the number of followers is a physical metric of “power,” more public and up-to-date than any opinion poll. At the surface. Dig a little deeper, and the shaky foundation begins to collapse.

The higher vibration picture is legacy. The real picture is about feeding one.

“When the human being dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.”

—Prophet Mohammad Peace Be Upon Him

Significance and power are fulfilled within —where it truly matters because the foundation is unshakeable. This foundation is aligned with the Divine. It is knowing that by investing in one’s well-being, growth, and compassionate living, one’s mere breath is enough to feed a soul —and educate a child.

My —and your— significance will not rise with fake followers on social media. That is #fakenews. $38 can feed a child every month. It is ironic that at this moment, world leaders are meeting in the exclusive resort of Davos to talk about what they have talked about since the inception of the World Economic Forum 47 years ago. Their mission is to “improve the state of the world” —one fake follower at a time. As they “engage” in random double-clicks with one hand, they —America— withholds funding to the only agency that has offered relief to Palestinian refugees since 1949. As they address the urgency of climate change —not America— they keep the engines of their private jets running on the tarmac.

Feed one. Everyday. Physically, virtually, figuratively. Just feed one. That has been my mantra lately. All else is finite, fragile, and fake.

I am grateful for the new friends I have made over social media, the businesses and amazing products I have discovered, and the blogs and quotes that have inspired me everyday. When someone takes the time to read a blog, write a comment, or click a like, repeatedly, I am fulfilled, enriched, and motivated. And my needs of significance and contribution are met and energized.

Mother Theresa would probably say today, “If you cannot reach 10,000 followers, get off social media or hire yourself a well-meaning expert. But please, for the love of God, leave the feeding to real people.” One mouth at a time.


One Comment

Leave a Reply