One of the five Yamas of Yoga is ‘Asteya’ or ‘non-stealing’. When one thinks of such a term, it is not immediately evident that stealing relates to more than just physical possessions or objects from another person. To say then that time itself can be stolen is an intriguing proposition. How can I steal something that is so intangible?
Zephyr Wildman noted in her New Year’s Day yoga workshop this year that simply asking your yoga teacher questions after class could be stealing his or her time, which could be well spent doing other things (eg eating before the next class). To steal then, means also to ‘steal one’s time’. Though time itself is constant; it does not expand to accommodate us as we spend more of our time online, increasingly so on social media. We are therefore scrambling to fit into more of our day with the consequence that less things get done. We get distracted, we lose the ability to concentrate, and ultimately we become slaves to a clever piece of machinery with a finite shelf life. Social media not only steals your time, it thrashes it.
You might ask ‘why me? I’m always in total control, I do what I want and I feel good when I am using it (well, that is what your brain is telling you), I’m not stealing anything from anybody, let alone myself’…But that’s half the trick you see – I have mentioned this many times before, but the clever ways in which social media attracts you and keeps you interested is through notifications, red lights etc..It’s all part of the physiological connection that social media has with us.
In this regard, the advent of social media has radically changed the way the world communicates with each other today. It has also created a vacuum in our lives for which habits, rituals and addictions have evolved. You may not realise this, but the ‘time’ spent on your phone or in front of your computer innocently checking Facebook or otherwise is actually soaking up your precious time, which could be used for things that you always wanted to do or could otherwise be doing instead – reading the paper or a novel, pursuing a hobby etc..
It goes further – more and more shops and brands etc these days are encouraging us to ‘follow us’ on Facebook or Twitter. “Why on earth would I want to follow my new local fresh juice bar in London on Facebook”?!, I thought to myself after consuming their latest green “detox juice” combo – the competition for the precious resource of our time knows no limits when it comes to the race to the bottom for your wallet.
So my conscious choice to use less social media (in particular, Facebook) has been transformational from a pure life experience perspective – holidays now are enjoyed on a deeper level. In the absence of social media, “living in the moment” has taken on an added meaning.
Dr Emma Seppälä from Mind Body Green goes further and outlines why social media is actually destroying some of the pure pleasures of travel. We become so outwardly focussed on the attention that social media brings to ourselves, rather than really going inwards and focussing on that special place that we discover on our travels. People have been travelling for 5000 + years, social media has been around for around 10 years, what did we do before that? I suspect that we did what most normal people did on their travels. Send some post cards, perhaps write an email, and generally enjoy the trip for what it is.
That’s not to say that all things social media are bad. There are certainly many positives – keeping in touch and preserving relationships that otherwise would’ve died is certainly a positive thing; sharing information is another. However, I cannot help but feel that overall, social media is stealing our precious time from us – time to do other things, time for others, and most importantly, time for yourself.
So, thanks for reading this blog, I know that by distributing this post through social media, you are sacrificing some of your “time”. I hope it is insightful and thought-provoking. Please don’t call me a hypocrite though – I’m really trying not to be, ok?
What’s your view on social media then – the “Prince of Thieves”, or the “Noble King”?