Digital detox is a term that we have all heard banded about, and if Im honest, Id never given it much thought. However, a situation I recently found myself in gave me time to think about and understand it all a bit more.
Sometimes, as we are all very much aware, life throws you a curve ball. It sends you into a spin and, temporarily or permanently, changes your life. Believe me, the last two years have sent us more than our share of curving, bash you straight in the head curve balls, but I am a true believer in that you have to try to see something positive when life sends you spinning, even when there appears to be no positives at all!! Hard I know!
With our latest bump in the road, my husband very suddenly became seriously ill and was in hospital for 3 weeks. Each day I would sit by his hospital bed, 1.30-8.30. There was no network signal in the hospital, so I was unable to look at any phone, laptop etc unless I went outside. As my husband was pretty sedated most of the time he was often sleeping, and as it was limited to immediate family only for visiting, I was sitting there alone 80 percent of the time. It gave me lots of time to think!
Anyone that has followed my little blog for a while will know that I am a massive advocate of mindfulness and being present, (sorry to bang on about it), so Im not one to be on my phone/technology all the time anyway, but when you cant use it at all for hours, its strange. The first couple of days it felt alien, but then I began to enjoy it. I rediscovered my love of reading novels. I did a lot of thinking and contemplating. I took note books in and did a lot of writing. I took my journal in and did a lot of planning. I started planning and writing (in a new note book of course) small life goals I want to achieve. I found I actually began to relish the lack of technology! I visited my social media accounts just once a day, usually morning but sometimes when I got home in the evening instead, and I bloody liked it. Sitting there for hours with my husband ignoring me (haha), got me thinking, should we all digitally detox on a regular basis for the good of our health?
So, cards on the table, be honest, how many of you check your social media on a daily basis? How many of you check it more than 4/5 times in a day? I bet a very high majority of you do, and some obsess and check even more. (apparently, according to The Times, people check their phones an average of 1500 times a week, and up to 4 times an hour) But have you ever questioned what are you actually checking for? I hadnt. What causes you to click onto you social media that many times a day? Does it matter if a stranger has unfollowed you? Is it going to affect your life if your last picture posted only got X amount of likes? Are you really going to lose sleep over something a stranger said about another stranger in the latest Twitter drama?
People are apparently even buying followers/likes etc. How crazy is that! They are buying themselves an illusion. Madness! Why do we worry about these things? I remember myself, feeling so disappointed when I got 100 followers on Instagram, only to see it go down to 97 the next day. Why?? What bothered me?
My short answer is I really don’t know. I totally get that for some people, their social media is their job, so a bit more understandable. There is also the thing that if you are trying to get brands to notice you, it can be a numbers game (sadly, frustratingly, but thats a topic for another time). I also understand that for promotion of blog posts etc, we use social media. But how did we become so obsessed? Are we looking for acceptance? Approval? Popularity? If so why are we looking to strangers for that? Are we trying to create and project an image of a life that isn’t real? There is a saying banded about in the blogging world as “living my best life”. Is that a statement or a convincing line….. Most of us know that the lives projected in beautiful, glossy Instagram grids are not “real”, but it dosent stop us comparing our own lives to the image, (and being a salesmans dream, I have a wish list of handbags Iv seen in Instagram photos)
Lets be real here, most of the people we seek something from on social media we are never likely to meet are we. Yet we place emphasise on their “acceptance” of our latest photos/tweets/posts. For me, comments on my blog posts give me life. Iv always been a writer at heart, so to have someone read and engage with something I have written makes me so happy. I love the interaction. I suppose that is in part could be seen as looking for approval? Acceptance that my writing is worth reading? I find it strange that I care as in my day to day life, I try to not give a hoot what people think of me. Like me, don’t like me, thats your business. Why is it different in the social media world?
Iv found it quite hard to grow my following on my blog social media accounts, especially Instagram, (its not my favourite platform and Im a bit rubbish on it if Im honest, so probably don’t make the effort I should). But I realised that actually my blog traffic is growing. Steadily and slowly its growing. I realised early on, soon after starting my blog, that this is what is important to me and what I enjoyed. I enjoy reading blogs, I love writing my blog. Social media is just a by product of that love. That realisation brought with it an instant feeling of relief, and lift of pressure (that I was putting on myself). I of course realise that my social media can help my blog traffic so its a necessary evil, but why was I worrying if I hadnt posted on Instagram for a few days. The world will still turn!
Its a strange thing isn’t it, social media obsession. Have you been sucked in yet? Its the thing that has surprised and confused me the most on entering the blogging world. I appreciate that as a very new blogger still, it may just be a lack of understanding. Maybe in a years time I too will be bothered by Gertrude from Norwich unfollowing me…….. (what a cow that Gertrude is…)
For now, I came to the conclusion in that hospital room, that I think for me personally, its really important to digitally detox for maybe a day a week, or at least some part of every day, (maybe I will set a tech curfew, no more technology after 7 or something). I honestly think most people would benefit from some form of stepping away. I think for lots of people, social media scrolling is escapism and a boredom filler. Almost a formed habit or addiction for others. If however, social media is giving you any feelings that are negative, (comparison, envy, numbers obsession, shopping habits (me) etc) then unfollow those accounts that fuel that, or switch off the phone. Its all about balance isn’t it. We need and use technology, thats how life in 2017 has become, but we do not need to let it give us worries or pressure.
I would really love to hear your views on this subject. Im interested to see if you think the same, have never thought about it, was unaware of whether you obsess etc. Have you made changes because you knew that your technology habit was becoming a problem? Id love to know, I think its so interesting.