On why you can’t find real vulnerability on Instagram

Jun 21, 2016

On Vulnerability Fatigue | www.nalumana.com

Thank-you Brene Brown.


Vulnerability is the new empowerment.


The “new black” of the personal development realm.

I’m not being completely tongue-in-cheek here.  The increasingly open conversation about vulnerability has sparked a lot of honest conversations that would have otherwise manifest as sweaty palms, fluttering chests, and the urgent need to flee.

It’s really important stuff.


But I feel like having a discourse about vulnerability in the Age of the Overshare warrants some further exploration.

Many, many, many of us overshare.  By this I mean, primarily and prevalently, that we display our lives on social media. We curate our lives for social media.  We share all the stuff we want people to see for the reasons we want people to see it.  It’s not that we only share the “pretty stuff.”  No:  in fact, our desire to be validated and – yeah, I’m going to say it – pitied often masquerades as vulnerability on the internet.

And before you say “…but not me,” let me ask you:  can you relate to the feeling of that pregnant pause as you wait for the reaction that your social media post incites?  How many likes will your post get?  Who will like your post?  Will you take solace in the “I hear ya sistah”‘s, in the “way to go”‘s, or the “you poor thing”‘s?  What will happen if your comment goes over like a turd in a punchbowl?  What if you really piss someone off?  What if they take it the wrong way?

That pause.  That wait for validation, appreciation, pride, solidarity, as you put your heart out there.

But it’s not your heart.  It’s still the artifact of social posturing, whether you’re cognizant of it or not.

The vulnerability lies not in the fact of having shared our personal lives online, but in the fact that we are waiting for external validation to feel justified, heard, and better about ourselves.  And by the very fact that most of us spend a beat or three thinking through how we will present ourselves and our current situations on social media – how it will be perceived and what kind of reaction we’re looking for – belies that we are still not allowing people to see our true vulnerability, our true selves.

And it’s tiring.  Exhausting.  Depending on others for their reaction to your posture of vulnerability.


True vulnerability, the kind that I believe happens most frequently in the presence of another person, is challenging yes – probably more so – but ultimately it is energizing.  It is energizing because it takes true courage to be asked to be seen and heard and understood.  It is energizing because it is deeply empowering.  Regardless of the other person’s reaction to us, there is integrity in knowing that you have stepped into vulnerability with bravery, with good intentions, with the desire to feel more whole in yourself, your relationships and the world.

Your turn:


Do you think you can be truly vulnerable, in a way that is energizing and independent of external validation of some kind, on social media?


What is your experience of being vulnerable on social media?


The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!