Does it seem like your friends live “in” your phone? For many of us, this device tends to be the link through which we socialize. Whether through messages or your access to social media apps, you are likely connecting with the rest of the world electronically. So, has this changed how you perceive the very nature of your friendships?
TikTok and Twitter seem to be constantly in the headlines lately as perceived consequences of social media are more prevalent than ever. Over 93% of those with access to the internet use social media according to a January article on Smart Insights, and more than 59% of the total world population uses social media. As the popularity has increased year after year, we have seen as a society how social media influences multiple aspects of our day-to-day lives, from how we get our news, our moods, and self-esteem, and according to some, even elections and how we vote. It’s very ingrained in our culture here in the US, but what are the consequences, and is it harmful, or harmless?
What we spend time on (including devices) and what we consume informs our reality and our views about the world around us. It is crucial to look at our own sense of reality from time to time and determine what we are making of all of this, and what stories we tell ourselves about the inputs we receive. In fact, a popular quote by Einstein says, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
What we tell ourselves and believe coalesces into our personal reality. The universe or world may be hostile, or it may be one of love and peace. According to Shiraz Baboo, founder of Energetic Magic, our stories are always being created in our own minds about ourselves, making up our reality. Shiraz’s approach focuses on helping individuals identify and transform the limiting beliefs and stories that hold them back from achieving their goals and living fulfilling lives. With this sort of focus in his work, we wanted to get Baboo’s take on how social media can work for us or against us. It certainly seems that our use of social media can support or detract from our efforts to build a positive reality.
First, let’s look more closely at the most popular apps. There are many social media apps being used around the world, offering different ways to connect to one another. Facebook remains the most popular form of social media, with two billion nine hundred fifty-eight million users. As discussed in the same January article by Smart Insights, the next most widely used are YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, WeChat, and then TikTok.
Social media is often in the news for one reason or another, indicating the huge impact it has on many aspects of life. TikTok was making headlines again in the past few weeks when the House put some very hard questions to CEO Shou Zi Chew. An article updated in January 2023 on Business of Apps says TikTok can identify a user’s interests and feed them more relevant videos. Originally it was launched as a short-form video app, mostly featuring dancing and lip-sync videos but it’s now got tons of content for any user interest. Both the Republicans and the Democrats had concerns about this app leading to talk of a ban, which had already occurred in other countries. Amongst the concerns and questions were some around mental health and preventing children from seeing harmful content. All these questions indicate the importance of what is being consumed on our social media and the prevalence with which they are used.
As a transformational coach who specializes in helping clients rewrite their stories, Baboo says that his own social media feed is a positive one. He advocates for mindfulness in what we seek, entertain, and consume. Shiraz says, “The most important stories often form between 0-6 years old.” Wherever these core stories are held, our ideas and thoughts are always reinforcing them. Baboo helps clients by leading them to reflect upon and change stories and beliefs and ultimately requires that the client be willing to step out of that story. His book, How to Rewrite Reality, outlines the process he uses to help people overcome issues with money, success, health, and relationships. He offers transformational coaching programs for individuals and groups, as well as workshops and classes designed to help clients overcome their limiting beliefs and stories.
One possible way we can create limiting beliefs is to compare ourselves to others. Apps like Facebook offer a window into the lives of others, which can be both inspiring and disheartening. By selectively presenting the best aspects of their lives, people on social media may create an illusion of perfection, leaving others feeling inadequate or incomplete. Many studies have been done on the effects of social media on mental health and negative emotions. The tendency to compare ourselves is one big cause of negative feelings arising from these apps. Whether we are looking down at other people or feeling bad about how we stack up, Shiraz cautions, “Judgment of others is just you causing emotional distress on yourself.”
It is important to look at how social media influences emotions, which Baboo says are crucial in our overall happiness. He says, “It’s like emotions are the priority for the mind. It will avoid emotional distress over any typical circumstances. And the biggest emotions it tries to avoid are guilt, shame, and heartbreak.” Sometimes people use social media to distract themselves from those very emotions in everyday life, even though social media can contribute more to feelings of isolation and anxiety. It can become a vicious cycle.
Shiraz suggests rather than looking at what everyone else is doing and distracting themselves with social media, people remove emotional roadblocks. He says he focuses on digging into a person’s beliefs and helping them overcome emotional roadblocks that are holding them back. Baboo shares about the process, saying, “I help people rewrite their reality, and my work is based on the idea that every consistent problem a person has in their life is a solution to an emotional problem that they don’t know they have.” Through addressing these underlying emotional issues, Shiraz says that his clients create a new reality that is more aligned with their desires and aspirations.
His technique is one that he has used to overcome illness and poverty in his own life. When Baboo was 22 years old, his life suddenly took a turn for the worse. He says, “I was studying to be a doctor at university, I was a bodybuilder, and everything was just going amazingly for me. Then I got arthritis. It wasn’t just uncomfortable; it was intense pain in every single joint in my body. So, there were nights when I sipped my dinner through a straw because my jaw was so swollen and painful, I couldn’t open it. That’s how bad it was.” In his own journey, Shiraz tried everything to find relief, and sometimes a treatment would work for a while and then it seemed as though he built up an immunity to it. Looking back on that time, he shares “I had to drop out of university and change my whole life around. It affected me for years. I’d spend days or a week bedridden. But eventually, I built up a pain tolerance and started to get on with my life.” He continued to seek a solution to his suffering.
Then, after 18 years he found a mentor in India who talked to him each day briefly about his life, over the span of two weeks. Ultimately this mentor helped him to make a shift by realizing what was at the root of his problem was not a physical issue. The diagnosis was that he felt responsible for everyone in his life, and arthritis gave him an out to not have to deal with those feelings of overwhelm when he tried to help everyone and guilt when he couldn’t. His illness was the solution to the emotional problem that Shiraz didn’t know he had. It gave his subconscious a “legitimate” excuse to not take care of everyone. When he let go of his belief, the arthritis also went away. Now he says he helps clients to overcome their own problems and blocks, in a similar but much faster way.
With Baboo’s work helping people focus on crafting reality to have more success and abundance, we wanted to know more about what his user experience is like on social media. Shiraz says, “My social media is full of positivity, comedy, and inspirational stories. That’s just what I see.” He continues, “It’s all because of the algorithms. It goes on your confirmation bias. So, your social media will fill up with whatever you believe is true because that’s the stuff you start to click on. Social media is just magnifying what’s already in us and giving us article after article to show us we’re right.” This seems to highlight the idea that political views can manifest an echo chamber on social media, especially given that a recent Pew report showed about half of Facebook users say they get their news on Facebook.
Baboo shares his tips for getting more positivity to influence your own reality, and some of it is easy. “You just have to start reaching out and connecting with people that are in that positive mindset and you’ll start to see your feed change,” he says. For those who are more advanced and really wish to see an impact, he adds, “You should also look at who’s got the most negative posts on their feed and just let them go. And unfortunately, it may be your best friend, sister, or someone you’ve known since grade school. However, you must be willing to let go of anyone or anything holding you back or keeping you stuck.”
To learn more about Shiraz Baboo, visit https://energeticmagic.com