spirituality and social media
Just for Fun!, Morning Motivation, Spiritual Growth

Spirituality and Social Media: Where’s the Love?

This post has been a long time coming. It has taken me months, or rather years really, to solidify the swirling thoughts, and tensions that have been bugging me about this very question… can spirituality and social media coexist? And if so, where’s the love?

The reason I have posed this question is because in so many ways I feel they cannot, but on the other hand, I feel that they must.

We live in a world where we’ve chosen social media to be our mode of communication – the mechanism by which we share our thoughts and feelings – who we are and who we want to be. This is a very effective system no doubt, connecting our world unlike ever before, but is it all that we hoped? The problem is that this interaction is complicated, and in so many ways completely against the very nature of being human.


spirituality and social media

Photo Credit: Alyssa Smith


From the beginning of online communication (hello AOL AIM), there have been innate flaws. We engage in conversation with one another, happily typing away and reveling in the use of shorthand and smiley faces, only to come quickly into gross conflict with our best online buddies. Was what they just said meant to be serious or sarcastic? Was the lack of detail in their answer because they are busy, or because they are mad at me? Or even worse, they don’t care and don’t like me at all! These conflicts are a natural outcome of conversation that lacks true human interaction. Without intonation in the voice to be heard, or facial and body expressions to be seen, or basic human energy to be felt, all we are left with is the written word. Yes, the written word can be powerful, but what we know are words that have been stripped down. Broken down to the bare minimum, where true thought and feeling expressed through elaborate description, adjectives, and allegories are often forgotten. As a result, our written words are not communicated properly, often misinterpreted, and fail to get the intended point across, leading to hurt, pain and contention.

This same conflict occurs with the use of social media, but on a much grander scale. Not only are we using the written word, but also photographs – the stories of who we are, or oftentimes, whom we want you to think we are.


Julia Ceasar Girl Sunshine Face


In this space, there is so much room for the misinterpretation of our intentions, especially when we are unaware that they might be doing so. But the part that I personally struggle with the most, that which is the biggest root of my internal conflict is that this space naturally creates a platform for judgment. It creates a platform for judgment not only on the part of the viewer/receiver, but also on the part of the creator/giver. And how does it do this?

Firstly, social media is set up in a way that is contradictory. It’s a platform for us to put ourselves out there, without having to really be there. We sit behind our computers and phones, and send a message out to the world. We are not personally there to communicate that message, so just like the issue presented before, the face-to-face human interaction is lacking. Now for all of us introverts, this is a HUGE relief, and a strong reason why this form of communication has become so wide spread. You can say whatever you want, and present whatever you want, without having to do it eye-to-eye. Obviously this is a great pro, but alternatively, it lacks the feeling and energy given and received from human to human connection – con.

When we put ourselves out there, we are reaching out to an audience that we have no direct contact with. For many of us this is a group of relative strangers, with similar interest sure, but for the purposes of knowing their soul and spirit, they are strangers. Therefore, we are completely blind to their background, their challenges and their life story. We cannot feel their energy, read their mood or facial expressions, nor do we have the opportunity to receive any impressions of who they are. As a result, there is a great filter by which others see our words and pictures through. This is a filter that we have no direct control or influence over. So every time we post a picture or words, it is being received through a filter that is not our own, but someone else’s. Meaning that the message received, or really felt, is oftentimes so different than what was intended.


Julia Caesar Women Lake Dusk


How does this look in the real world? Here is a good example of how it touches me. As part of my Instagram I love to post pictures of the food that I eat. Green smoothies, grain bowls, wildly enormous salads, raw desserts and such. I do this because my intention is to show people how delicious healthy food can be, with the hopes that they are inspired to eat healthy too. While this is my intention, it is frequently received differently. I have friends that will say, “I don’t know how many times I have been sitting down to eat what I thought was a healthy meal, only to see what you’re eating on Instagram. I instantly feel bad, thinking that I should be eating what you’re eating, which is obviously healthier. And I think, God I’m fat, I can never eat healthy enough… What’s wrong with me!”

In this case, this reaction is absolutely not what I had intended, and it pains me that I created this in some way. While I had hoped to uplift, inspire and to motivate a positive change, I instead created self-hate, and feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. And while this is only one case (and I’m sure there are many positive ones too) it is still a case where my message was wrongly received. One could argue that this was about HER choices, about her reaction to the world (which is most certainly true), but I played a role nonetheless. I think to myself that if only I could’ve been there to have this conversation in person, I might have had the change to influence the outcome somehow – customize the message to her, to what she is going through, to ensure she felt my intent… to read my message as I had truly intended. But because there is nothing there but her own filter, my message did not serve her well. Which is part of my conflict over social media being a chosen platform for communicating with others in a manner that upholds my intentions of love. So it makes me think, how can I make this better? How can I be more authentic, more sensitive, more aware of others?


Julia Caesar Wilderness Communication


Now the irony of this past example is that this happens to me too. As it so happens, being a nutritionist does not exempt me from this same experience. On numerous occasions I can remember scrolling through Instagram, coming across glorious, and deeply healthy foods that other people are eating. Oftentimes I save to make for later, but depending on the mood or time, feelings of jealousy and inadequacy arise. Maybe I had been cheating too much, maybe I was on holiday and indulging, or maybe I was just getting lazy, but in any event, my present situation made that post ALL too revealing. And the reason being is that social media seems to act like a mirror. It reflects our own self, our deepest self, that self we often try to hide from, get away from or ignore. It can bring up dark feelings, ones that we don’t like to see, or feelings of a person we don’t want to be. It poses questions, forces us to see something… something that we either choose to explore deeper into, or to turn away from.

Truth be told, my greatest challenge, the time when the mirror is right up to my face is when I am looking at colleagues, people who are in my same space. I see beautiful photography, excellently arranged props, perfectly executed food styling, ideal lightening, the quintessential “healthy” shot, and oftentimes think, “they are so good, I’ll never measure up, I’ll never have that kind of talent…” and so the negative thoughts arise.

The real kicker, the one thing that makes all of this all the more real and relevant, and evident for that matter, is the system by which all social media is measured… likes and follows. This has become our way putting “value” on a person or what that person does. The question that arises in my mind is, what is the purpose of the likes and follows? Sure it definitely has its pros. It helps a business person measure how successful its messages are, how effective the chosen tactics have been, and it gives positive reinforcement, but at the same time, it also wreaks havoc on the ego. It is a constant measure, a concrete, indisputable number of how GOOD you are, how many people “like” you, how talented they think you are, and how much they love, or God forbid HATE what you are doing. It feels like a forum where people have free reign to judge you and your work, and the worst part is that it makes you feel like you NEED their approval, their love, their “likes” and “follows.” So not only are you constantly judging yourself based on these numbers, you are then taking that judgment, and comparing it to how you measure up against others.

Do you have as many followers as other people in your business? Do you get as many likes on your pictures and posts? What do they have that I don’t?

This is the harsh side of social media that I believe we all succumb to no matter how many likes and followers we have. It is basic human nature – question your self-worth based on others – their interaction with you, and to you.


Where does the love live here? …Can it live here?


Julia Caesar Woman Faced Away Light


These are the questions that I constantly ask myself whenever I get into this viscous cycle of negative self-talk in relation to social media. And while I wish it was infrequent, when your business depends on your interaction with social media, it comes up more than you’d like. And while I am writing this, the answer becomes clearer and clearer in some way. My answer is not to turn away, but to stare directly into the face of it. Yes, social media is inherently a space that creates self-reflection, comparison, and possibly (and most often) feelings of jealously, inadequacy, and worthlessness, but isn’t that a gift? By seeing something in ourselves that we don’t like, can’t we choose to explore that? Explore those feelings to see WHY we are feeling. If we can, can we not fix it and eradicate it?

Believe me, this work is not easy, and it is something that I humbly admit I am working on too…. and daily. It is painful and uncomfortable, and it makes us look at parts we don’t want to believe are there, much less feel. The truth is that change is never easy, but it is necessary for spiritual growth, for human growth, to come to know who we REALLY are, and to be who we really WANT to be. While on many days I’d love to cancel all my social media accounts and to throw my phone out the window in order to stop SEEING and FEELING, but I know that I would only be turning away, saying I am not ready for the challenge of growth and change. I would be turning my back to what my soul truly needs and desires, and I would stop helping and inspiring all those who I touch. So perhaps for now I can make perimeters around my social media use, how often I use it, and what I choose to look at until I can come to heal that which is hurting inside. I believe that if we can open up that space and shine some light on it, perhaps social media and spirituality can coexist, and LOVE can be found.


Morgan Sessions Sparkler


All in all, the world is a perfect representation of the good and bad, the up and down, the positive and negative, and the yin and yang. Social media is no different. For every new “follower,” loving comment, and word of appreciation or gratitude, love and joy is given and received. That’s why we are all moved to be a part of it, right? But perhaps with our new understanding of how WE can be affected by its negatives, we can help to improve the system overall. Be conscious of the words we say and the pictures we post, always be authentic (never create a false image of who you are), reveal our human flaws, and never consciously strive to create jealously or inadequacy in others. If can choose to think beyond our own self and unto others instead, maybe our chosen form of communication can truly be all that we intended.

Thank you for giving me a space free from judgment, and full of love, in which I can share my thoughts. I do hope that you feel safe enough to share your own as well. As I work through this I would love to know your thoughts, experiences and feelings on the matter. I believe that the more open we are, the greater the chance for healing. What do you think? How does LOVE exist in the world of social media? Do you deal with the same challenges that I do?


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Photo credit: Alyssa Smith, Morgan Sessions and Julia Caesar



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  • Reply Suzan June 19, 2015 at 5:52 am

    Enjoyed this thoughtful post! Most people experience feelings of inadequacy from social media (myself included), but it is not often mentioned, so thank you for that! It reminds me very much of a kayaking trip I took recently with some friends. Every time I was in the back of the pack, I would feel agitated until I kayaked up to the front of the pack again. Nobody likes to feel left behind, in social media or otherwise. Everyone wants to matter — Maybe this is the source of the problem. Can people learn to enjoy the moment without wondering where they stand with respect to everyone else?

    I’m sure from an evolutionary perspective this all makes sense. Our social standing (or in this case the number of likes we get on social media) probably once had a great influence over our survival. But nowadays, worrying about it just seems to get in the way of our creativity, our autonomy, and our integrity. I hope that we can push ourselves beyond it…

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale June 19, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. I think the hardest part is that it directs our attention outward instead of inward. This inevitably creates a slew of very human based feelings, comparisons, judgements, and questions like “where do we stand,” all of which perpetuate the illusion. The illusion that we are just a body, not a soul spirit. I do hope we can strive to restructure this paradigm, redirecting its intention to a higher purpose somehow.

      • Reply Suzan June 19, 2015 at 5:05 pm

        Yes! Completely agree that we should never forget about our soul and spirit! Spirituality must be the antidote to this crisis of looking outwards to determine our worth.

  • Reply Cosi June 30, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Love this post. I can very much relate to the feelings you’re describing from the point of view of a small business owner and as well as being involved in music / local music scenes. I think mindfulness and not turning away from the feelings that arise is the perfect solution to consider. Thanks, Lauren!

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale July 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      Absolutely! It is so interesting how this new mode of communication has changed so many things, but concurrently offered a new platform for growth. <3

  • Reply Yana July 20, 2015 at 1:19 am

    Hi Lauren,

    I just wanted to say that you’ve been such an inspiration for me and your posts have literally changed my life. I’ve never left a comment or a “like” because honestly I like to have an anonymous presence online 🙂 precisely because of the things you mention in your post above. This is also why I really commend you for your courage in putting yourself out there. Several years ago I was looking for a solution and an explanation to taking birth control pills. I was on them for only 2 years when my normal (120) blood pressure skyrocketed to over 140. I was looking to understand what happened and to get my body back to normal (normal health and normal weight since I had gained probably 30 lbs since starting them). I found your post through google and then devoured the rest of your website. The information you provided me with has led to me becoming vegetarian/vegan and Health Beyond Hype has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve followed your intestinal, kidney cleanses, juice cleansing for over 2 years now and I’m preparing to do the liver/gallbladder flush after I finish my second round of intestinal/kidney cleansing right now. I am back to my normal blood pressure and weight (without dieting) and I feel better than I’ve ever felt (I’m only 29).
    Also, I want to pursue a career in the healthy lifestyle/wellness/holistic nutrition area, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I’d like to do more 🙂
    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that you’ve made a huge, positive impact on my life (and the life of my family) even though I’ve never let you know in the “social media” way 🙂 And I’m sure there are other people out there just like me. So, Thank You!!!

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale July 31, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      That is one of the kindest messages and I want to thank you for sharing that with me. When you turn helping others into your life’s work, oftentimes you forget that you are actually HELPING people. It easily becomes a “norm” that you live day in and day out, and so these little reminders make all the difference. I hope that I can continue to offer you guidance and inspiration for your own personal journey, and if you ever have any ideas or questions please do not hesitate to email me directly at lauren@theholykale.com. All the best 🙂

  • Reply Euphoria February 12, 2016 at 6:19 am

    Oh it helps. I remember I lost tons of wihget in HS because all I did was walk everywhere, literally. To work, to the mall, to the store, etc. I just walked and the pounds just kept on dropping lol

  • Reply Know-mind September 28, 2016 at 2:51 am

    I came across this blog because I Googled the phrase “Social Media and spiritual growth”. I don’t have a Twitter account or a Facebook account or any other social media account. The query came about because my freelance media work has finally required me to have a Linked In account and I have discovered that to continue with my 40 year career in film and TV production, reaching out via social media requires me to pay attention to, and play along, which I have actively avoided for the last…what…10 years. My spiritual path has had me dealing effectively with ego and self promotion, but because of that modesty, I have fallen far behind professionally and economically. So naturally I am concerned that by jumping in I may trample carelessly my very mellow and peaceful path.

    I observe most people involved with social media as compulsively and egotistically competing via likes, thumbs up, follows and smiley faces. This all seems so unnecessary and somehow just a little too self promoting. Does one need to attach self-value to these online methods of approval? No, probably not. They could and Im sure are, with some, just a way to score card your involvement without attaching ego value, and to adjust your approach so one can create a certain success.

    I think the important question is: does one HAVE to play along? My answer is NO, certainly not, but beware, there are penalties by not. There is an old saying, that “The nail that sticks out gets pounded down”. This points to the day before Common Core in post-war education were the individual who stood out was warned to NOT. But we’ve seen that individual style and flair, even in a world of ubiquitous style and flair, still has to fit into the norm.

    When people find out that I don’t Facebook or twitter, I’m suspected of being anti-social (like in the personality disorder, believe it or not) or worse, of being anti-THEM. That I’m passing judgement by making a choice for MYSELF to be less…frantic in my everyday electronic involvement. It has become so uncomfortable that I feel I am having to make a choice between todays electronically fried society or a cabin in the woods.

    Why is this? Why the pressure? And what was society’s “norm” 15 or 20 years ago? How do we promote balance and relaxation?

    For those NOT on a spiritual path there is little need to pull back, other than to relax a little and find a patient balance in this compulsive click here and tweet there world.

    For those on a spiritual path, the inevitable unplugging, quietly, without fan fare or jubilant rejection, seems to be just another step forward. Does it need to be all or nothing? Certainly not. But Spirit’s gentle whisper of “I love you…now relax” just might be overwhelmed and maybe even missed if you’re just too busy looking for somewhere to charge your phone at Starbucks.

    Remember, God can only speak to you when you are not talking (or texting).

    Peace and love Lauren. Keep making choices that resonate with your heart.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale September 30, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Wow…. what a beautiful response. Thank so for sharing all of your thoughts and your journey with us. You pose a very interesting and incredibly relevant question – do you HAVE to engage, and if not, HOW does that affect your life goals in terms of business? Can you reach the success and exposure in your work without engaging in social media? This is something that I have thought a lot about, and have discussed at length with other like minded people in my field. The good news is that you are not the only one. In fact, it seems as though most people who I have spoken to about this feel the same way – high pressure to compete in a realm that taps into the ego and self-esteem, thereby compromising peace. For me the simply knowing that other people feel the same has brought peace to me and has lessen the competitiveness felt on these platform. The more “real” we can get with the messages sent on social media the more authentic and less ego-driven it feels in my experience.

  • Reply Judy Justado October 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Great article! Worth reading. Actually, I’ve been wanting to deactivate my social media accts, but I’ve come to realize, what would have I accomplished then? I need fb to get me connected with my family since I’m working away from home. And it’s our way to bond, other than phone of course. Another thing in my job, clients would often ask me if I have my fb acct. At times, I wanted to say no, but then, it would just be a lie and sooner or later they’ll just find out. So i’ve got no choice but to say yes, then they’ll add you and wham! I really think, social media can be very helpful. But if it would compromise our time with God, our family most especially the kids and loved ones, it’s a totally different thing. We should be more responsible and know to make use of our social media in an effective way.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale October 17, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Absolutely Judy. I think the best way to start is to recognize and to use it consciously. Try to set perimeters around its use, and remember this is not real life. I also have found it really comforting that most people feel the same. We are all in the same boat, feeling torn about how to use it but to also stay empowered and grounded. Thank you for sharing!

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