Last week my beloved dog Phineas almost died, and I shared about it on Instagram. What I didn’t expect was how rude people can be when behind the protection of their keyboard. It made me think about who I actually want following me and what good is 1 million followers if I can't just post what I want to post.
It was late on a Wednesday night, and we had noticed that our rescued pup, Phineas (only 8 years old) had been acting strange. He wasn’t eating or drinking and went out into the yard and just laid there for hours. We decided to take him to the doggie ER only to find out that he was in full-blown ketoacidosis caused by diabetes. 80% of dogs in this state end up dying from it, so the odds were not in his favor. He spent about 3 days in the hospital and at that time, my world revolved around if he was going to be okay. Phineas had often shared the screen with me in my yoga videos on Instagram.
Phineas also has his account where almost 14,000 people follow to see his adorable photos and videos. I felt that my followers would want to know what was going on with him. I also from time to time, like to share on social media as a way to vent my pain, my happiness, or frustration during certain situations I may be going through. Collective thoughts, prayers, and well wishes I thought could shift the energy in his favor, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help my little buddy. So, I wrote up a post and shared it with my audience of over 1 Million followers. The next few days made me think long and hard about what the heck I want to do with my Instagram and how I could attract more like-minded people.
After posting about Phineas, I received thousands of comments and direct messages from people showering me with love. It was amazing and made a really tough time in my life bearable in the moment. If you sent me a message or left me a comment, thank you. You made a difference in my life. I appreciate you. You'll never know just how much your words of kindness helped me. Every day, I posted an update about him because let’s be honest, how could I post anything else? I just felt that posting some kind of “yoga selfie” or yoga tutorial when my dog is dying was just weird and totally impossible for me to do.
After 3 days of posts about my dog, I started to notice a few negative comments like “I thought this was a yoga account” or “I’m sorry, I know you love your dog, but I follow you for yoga not your dog”, and “maybe you should create a new account for followers that care about your dog”. I have to admit, I was a little hurt and annoyed that anyone would bother to leave me a comment like that when they could easily just hit the unfollow button and be on their merry way. I can’t imagine ever doing that to another person’s account especially when they are hurting. Why on earth would someone write those messages to a stranger online? It didn’t make sense to me. One woman told me that she "didn't want to unfollow me" but she would "have to if I kept posting about my dog." How's that for compassion?
For the record, I get a lot of negative comments that I hardly ever discuss. I always delete them and don't care too much about what they have to say. This for me, was different. This was about kindness and empathy. I did lose about 5,000 followers in those 4 days of posting about my dog being sick which I felt was a really good thing. I don’t want anyone following me who can’t support me when I’m going through a tough time. If people want to unfollow me if my account isn’t “serving” them the way they had hoped, I understand.
This experience made me realize that maybe I’m to blame. Looking at the "why" often helps me understand where I need to shift my attention. Because I guard my privacy and don't share everything I'm going through on social media, I have attracted those that don't really want to know me personally. It is interesting however, because I do love to share personal things that I’ve gone through or I am going through if I feel like I need help or if I feel like it will help someone else. What I don’t do is just share like an open diary for all to read. My personality isn’t capable of handling all the constant criticism from others, so I only share when I feel strong enough to handle any negativity. After all of this, I have been thinking long and hard about who I want to surround myself with and that includes my social media audience. Even though I will never be able to personally know all of you, it is still an energy exchange and it still matters.
7 years ago when I started my Instagram account, I had no idea that my life was going to change. I had no idea that I’d soon be teaching all over the world and able to teach online to literally anyone, anywhere in the world. I was naive to it all, but I can’t use that excuse anymore. I’m not naive now. I know what it is all about, and I can decide who I want following me based on what I chose to share about. My desire is to help people in any way I can. Social media, for me, isn't about getting rich, being famous, or to taking advantage of anyone following me. It's really about just sharing me; My life, my struggles, my successes, and I hope that maybe it helps a few people along the way.
I don’t have a plan, but I do have dreams. If the people following me connect with me on a level that goes further than yoga poses or tutorials, I'd feel blessed. I hope we can connect as mothers, wives, dog owners, teachers, friends, sisters, artists, and fellow humans trying to make this world a better place.
If you don’t like what I’m about, it’s okay. Just do me a favor and hit that unfollow button. We will both be happier if you do. I’m looking for people who resonate with me and my story; People to do life with.
Again, thank you to all of the AMAZING and kind people that have reached out to me. I don't have words to express my gratitude. You mean so much to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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