Remove the noise
It's the only way to hear yourself.
The decisions we make today are noisy decisions.
Because we are so connected through social media, the decisions we make are highly influenced by the noise (other people) around us.
Think about it.
When we're doing something fun or exiting - hiking, having a drink on a patio, reading a compelling book - at some point we think of that moment's intersection with social media. We think about what we should post, what feeling we're trying to evoke from others, whether or not people will respond to it. In short, at some point most of our decisions are filtered through the question of what other people will think. And what other people think is purely noise.
It extends beyond an inspirational mountain scene and a witty caption. Think about your career. What occupation would you pursue if no one in the world knew who you were and there was no social influence on your decision? Think about your hobbies. Would you really be pursuing that mediation habit or that diet if there weren't social influences providing noise in your decisions?
I'm saying this as much to myself as I am anyone else.
I've been entirely off of social media for about a month now. Instagram was my last remaining social network (outside of LinkedIn which is a whole different conversation for another time), as I quit Facebook and Twitter years ago. The most surprising outcome in this month or so of being removed from social influence is how much my ideas of what's interesting and not interesting have changed.
Little things like doing an epic hike without a care in the world for who knows I'm doing it, or having a blast with my kids without feeling that internal nudge to get social validation of my parenting.
And big things like critically thinking about what direction I want to take my writing and why, or what health truly looks like to me, myself, and I.
It is impossible to understand (and overstate) how much noise we have in our daily lives without removing ourselves from it first and foremost. We are conditioned to make decisions in our lives - big and small - with some level of social approval. And my fear is that we collectively wake up one day realizing we've been leading lives dictated by the opinions of others.
Your mind. Your gut. Your body. Your intuition. Your muse.
These things are signals. And without an intentional muting of the noise surrounding these signals, we simply can't hear them. Listen for the signal, and start by removing the noise.