Hunger for Meaning and Connection in My Overflowing Social Media Pantry

Jan 26, 2017

One of the things I have noticed more acutely over the past couple of months, as the world as I have known it has shifted daily, was how much more time I was spending on social media, as well as how…frankly, yucky I was feeling as I did.

I had done this social media experiment (see below) several years ago and one thing I noticed at the time was how, after a while, nothing I came across as I scrolled seemed to satisfy me, yet I kept looking and looking. I got this glazed, “out of it” feeling and continuous scrolling through Facebook was not making me feel better or satisfying my “hunger” for something…….but I didn’t know what. Yet, it was hard to stop.  And when I did stop, I felt disoriented, like I had just landed back in the room from some space trip.

It reminded me of when I was a kid and, sometimes in the evenings after supper, I would go into the kitchen and open the refrigerator and just stand there looking, then I would open all the cabinet doors, looking and looking, climbing up on the counter and scouring the upper cabinets that I knew held not readily edible food.  My mother would ask what I was looking for and I would say, “I don’t know. I’m just hungry, but there isn’t anything here I want.” She would say, “Well then, you aren’t hungry. Shut those cabinet doors and get out of that kitchen!”

What I know now is that I was hungry, but not food hungry….I was seeking something to satisfy me, to nourish my little soul, but I did not have the skills to figure that out at the time. Nor did my parents.

I often find myself doing the same thing on social media in the evenings. Fortunately, I have learned to notice when I keep scrolling and scrolling through Facebook, like I used to scroll through the fridge and the kitchen cabinets, looking and looking for….something….that I can’t quite name. Now, I know to ask myself, what am I hungry for? What am I seeking? What would feel better, and be more nourishing to my heart and soul than more of this? And I have a full pantry of things I can engage with that do offer me satisfaction and nourish my mind, my spirit: reading novels, especially detective stories and mysteries; cookbooks; and thoughtful, well-researched nonfiction. I can sketch, have a “real conversation” with my husband, dream up fun projects and plans for the future, and knit, to name a few.

I have realized that what I really crave is meaning and connection. I think probably many people are also looking for some form of acknowledgment, even if it comes in a negative and hurtful form. These are all very basic, extremely essential, human needs, just like water, food, and shelter. And we do hunger for them.

*Try this micro-experiment and see what you discover:

Whenever you are next scrolling through your favorite social media apps, decide to notice and pay attention to what you are feeling in your body and what thoughts, inner conversations, are going through your mind with each different post or image. Just decide to notice. Pay particular attention to anything that seems to “trigger” you, as in you have strong negative or positive reaction. No need to react, or do anything, just notice, give it some attention, and move on.

What do you notice as you practice this small experiment?

I teach my clients that there is great power in just noticing what is, without needing to force ourselves to do or be any different. Just notice what you notice, accept it, let it go, and see what shifts for you over time.

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