It seems strange to be writing a blog, a ridiculously public and social form of communication, about the pitfalls of spending way too much of my own life on social media over the past few years. But once I’ve written this down I guess the “social break” I’ve embarked on will resume! Let me explain.
A couple of weeks ago I went to London with my Mum to see a play at The National Theatre. Of course, I hadn’t heard of it and was instantly sceptical that I would come out feeling bored and uninspired and want to run back to the excitement of Oxford Street. But ‘Everyman’ did the very opposite. If anyone gets the chance to catch it down at the Southbank this summer, I insist you take a trip and get a ticket. Put simply, it’s a play about how it is sometimes only in death we can see where we went wrong in life. Some of those areas for ‘Everyman’ (who is of course every single one of us) was being way too materialistic, neglecting his family, not looking after his body or mind and he paid the price. Long story short, I had the chance for 90 minutes to turn off my phone and be officially “switched off” from my notifications and constant interruptions.
I guess looking back I’ve been oblivious to just how reliant I’ve become on my phone for constant entertainment. I’ve got Instagram, twitter, Facebook, tumblr, vine, snapchat, all at my fingertips and the feeling I need to be updating them all with my latest travels and exciting days out (even when 90% of the time, my life is not that exciting). Or at least checking them all incessantly. If only for “something to do”. Well, after that night in London, armed with a new perspective about what I could actually start filling my days with, I switched my phone off. And that weekend it stayed out of battery for a good 24 hours and when it came back to life (wifi and data turned off) it was only so I could set my alarm clock for Monday morning.
I spent over a week like that and oh my word, I feel like a new person. Extreme I know as I’ve not exactly given up a drug, but sometimes social media can be an addiction you don’t even know you have. The first thing I realised was how refreshing it was to not have to watch and read all the negativity that is present on social media. Put downs, rows, snide comments, “dragging”, all of that was another reason I needed to switch off. The world is full of unpleasantries at the best of times, I decided I don’t need to be reading it every minute of the day.
But the best thing I’ve realised is how many things that I kept talking about doing and wishing I had time for, I’m actually finding the time to do! I read a book that’s been sitting on my table for months, I baked cookies, I started painting after not even looking at a paintbrush since I left school and watched documentaries and some films I’ve not had the chance to catch. It’s the most free I’ve felt in a long time. And all because I realised that the fear of missing out is a myth that a lot of my generation, old-me included, live by.
I have kept up to speed with various Whatsapp conversations and Facebook messenger purely because I don’t think chatting with my friends every now and then is too bad for me – but when it comes to social media? Well. I’m taking a real break. A break that I’m not keen on ending just yet… I’m way too busy! And happily too which is the biggest surprise.
The internet and social media can be an amazing form of communication. But that’s all it is. It’s one aspect of life that sometimes becomes people’s lives. I don’t want to fall into that trap again…
So, the wifi is back off, twitter signed out and back to business AKA real life.