Maybe We’re to Blame?

There’s an ad going around featuring puppies and kittens and babies being born with the tagline, “We want to make Facebook like it used to be.” You know, before we effed it up.

I’ll confess, I haven’t been as active on Facebook as I once was. But it wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg or the Russians that drove me off. It was the yogis.

I think Patanjali saw social media coming when he created the Yoga Sutras 2,000 years ago. He mandated “Ahimsa” first, that is to seek no judgment and do no harm. He said, “Anyone with a cell phone and a perineum will have an opinion, and we need to teach people that their job is to hold space and not to judge.”

Ha! It would be easier to teach one-armed handstand, to a person without arms. That's not funny, I know.

Those crazy yogis! They will come at you for just about anything – what you eat, what you wear, and how you teach the pelvic tilt. Recently, I have been shamed for teaching inversions to older yogis, because once you are 40 some think you should only sit quietly on your mat.

Yoga teachers also argue over much more important stuff on Facebook like what kind of touch is an inappropriate touch, and giving too much power to a “guru.”

Listen, these are important matters to consider. “Gurus” who take advantage of their students and give an inappropriate assist need to go far, far away. But what exactly is a bad touch?

I hardly adjust my students at all these days, and it’s not because I feel I am touching inappropriately. It’s because someone will post that in their opinion they are perfect and so I am a bad yoga teacher.

This gets the person posting a lot of attention, and that’s the crux of the problem with Facebook. People thrive on attention. “Me, me, me, please ‘like’ me.”

Here’s the thing: If you don’t like you, then all the “likes” in the world won’t make up for that.

Today it’s cool to be “triggered,” which means you are upset and within your rights to blame everyone else for your behavior from Mark Zuckerberg to the Russians. Being a victim gets lots of “likes.” Having your shit together is intimidating. Even the most powerful, together yogis I know are posting “I hate my body, too,” because it sells. This isn’t real vulnerability. This is marketing.

For example, if you are pregnant and glowing, and someone says, “You look radiant,” that person will post, “Someone told me today that I am sweating like a pig.” I cannot make this up. However, if you are pregnant and think this is about you, it’s not. I made it up.

Last year I was told that my “white birth” triggered another yogi. I know I can be very annoying. Have you heard my voice? But if my skin color triggers you, is that my problem?

I’m not sure that Facebook is as broken as we think, except for the part about selling our personal information and allowing the Russians to mess with our election. That is effed for sure. I do believe, however, that we might be broken.

In our current culture, having it together is never going to get you as much attention as being a victim. It’s just not triggering enough to create a high-performing post on Facebook. However, standing on your own two feet and taking responsibility for your actions, that might be somewhere in the Yoga Sutras if we look hard enough.

Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is the co-author of "Fearless After Fifty: How to Thrive with Grace, Grit and Yoga." If you find aging with vigor triggering, there are plenty of other books to read. For more wit and wisdom, find her at