I was on a dating site recently. A guy who looked like Jesus (should Jesus exist today as a Swedish supermodel with a man-bun and a lot of photos of himself on jet skis) flagged in his profile that he would flick left on anyone with a #blessed hashtag on their Instagram feed.
Now, I thought, if we’re at a point where a Swedish model with a man-bun is expressing #blessed cynicism, something must seriously be shifting.
I’ve been watching the quasi-spiritual vibe spread on social media for a while. I am all for folk exploring mindfulness and spirituality. And I’m not particularly perturbed by hashtag choice.
But I do share a wariness of what I call Hashtag Enlightened Syndrome.
You may have spotted sufferers: the yoga teacher who forgets he’s meant to be teaching (gently) and instead uses his class to eulogise…
The green smoothie goddess mermaid warrior who shares about mindfulness, but posts filtered images of herself on sponsored island holidays with sponsored wrinkle-free skin while wearing fashion brands bogged down in child labour issues.
I could go on…
I looked closely at this phenomenon while writing my new book first, we make the beast beautiful. Part of the book looks at how the self help industry can be as problematic as pills and many other addictive quick-fix salves. They, too, promise a solution “out there”. Something we can “buy” into. That we have to go out and “get”.
They, too, can stop us from doing what really needs to be done, which is to come in closer.
And so troubled souls in snazzy yoga leggings are covering up their pain with talk of angels and fairies and unicorn, grasping onto the “#loveandlight” bandwagon, when, really, getting down and dark and heavy with the truth is what is really needed. You know, to rumble with the truth.
I chatted to ex-life coach Louise Androlia who has been questioning her own participation in the Syndrome. “I’ve been seeing a lot in my realm avoiding their own pain by checking out of their bodies and avoiding the pain of the world ignoring reality and just sending ‘light and love’) when actually like us all, they’re wounded.” She tells me it’s a form of numbness and it’s stunting growth.
She adds this pearler:
“If you aren’t anxious then you aren’t paying attention.”
I tend to agree. Anxiety is our soul’s alarm system. It tells us, “Oi, you’re veering from what matters” or “Hey there, this career path is not good for you”. Running from it into the light to hang with unicorns is to stay in old, bad patterns.
I think a bunch of people are finding the pollyannish hashtags stuff problematic because they’re detecting hypocrisy. That it’s meaningfulness-lite. With an expensive meditation podcast series to go with it.
Do you agree? Or think I’m being too harsh?
* Photo by Ben Hopper