This Christmas I gave myself a gift. The gift of time, space and relaxation via a digital detox. I felt it necessary as I’ve found myself spinning lately. Over the holidays I simply pretended my phone was circa early 2000’s and only made calls and sent texts. I spent my time with family and friends, eating too much chocolate, and wearing dorky slippers. I barely touched my phone, and boy did it feel good.
This time of year, I cannot help but reflect on the year gone by. In 2016 my husband and I moved to an entirely new city, got a new apartment, started new jobs and made new friends. It was definitely a year to remember, but boy am I tired!
For most of us change can be difficult and grueling (you can read more about my thoughts on change in “How Do You Handle Change?”) and I can definitely attest to that. This time around though, I’m considering what is that I should consciously change going forward into 2017. Taking a break from the online world, from looking at this screen or that one really got me thinking about how we all live through our phones, computers or tablets an incredible amount. It’s astonishing! On average we’re in front of screens for 10 hours, on our phones for almost 5, and check our devices 85 times, per day! It’s time to change that.
I’m not big on making New Year’s resolutions, and I’m not sure this really counts as I’ve been consciously trying to discipline myself over the last few weeks (consider it a head start). I think limiting screen time, and taking a break from the interweb is probably something almost anyone could try and do as I’m sure we’re all guilty of overdoing it to some degree. As a blogger however, I’ve found it particularly challenging to achieve this balance and take a digital detox for more than a day. Between Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and the like, writing blog posts, editing photos and responding to emails, it’s almost impossible to limit the amount of screen-time I’m exposed to, but I’m trying. Not to mention, I work in an office where I’m on a computer for most of the day. Social media and the internet is incredibly tempting, addictive and can feel like an obligation. “I’m a blogger, I have to be online as much as possible to be successful.” Yup. Sound familiar?
I’m no expert, but I’ve been blogging for almost two years now. It’s been my experience and observation that many bloggers, as well as those who don’t officially deem themselves ‘bloggers’ struggle with this balance. The other day I did some social media updating, and said to my husband “alright, my blogging responsibilities are done for today” to which he responded “responsibilities?” – it’s true, what may have started out as a casual hobby has now turned into something of a mini-entrepreneurial venture, and with that come obligations. But your real life doesn’t stop when you put your blogger hat on, so achieving harmony is necessary.
A Cautionary Tale
I have heard from personal friends, as well as virtual ones (by that I mean people I chat with via social media, but have never met in person) about how many times a day they check their social profiles. I used to be so guilty of this. In fact, when I first created my Instagram account, I made it my goal to get to 10k followers in a year (you can read more about it in “One Year Blogging: Four Things I’ve Learned”). I did manage to meet this goal, and I did it in ten months. This is not my attempt at bragging, on the contrary. I’m trying to paint a picture for you here: me, on Instagram, all the darn time. My phone was basically an extension of my hand, permanently attached. I was very active on social media, and growing rapidly as a result. That’s great right!? Sure, but I beg you to stop for a second and consider your priorities.
As you can imagine, I deliberately don’t do this anymore. I think the why is quite obvious. It’s no way to live and it’s certainly not sustainable in the long term (chances of going crazy or turning into a cyborg are high). My phone is once again a convenient device, not something I’m on multiple times an hour. I’ve since realized how much of my real life I was missing living through my phone in this way. It’s like when people go to concerts, they pay for a ticket to be there and experience it LIVE, and then they spend the entire time filming the whole thing and sharing it online. Why even bother going in person? You watched the entire performance through your phone, you might as well have stayed home on your couch and watched the TV broadcast. Well, I don’t want to look back at my life one day and wish there was a rebroadcast I could tune into. Life is as LIVE as it gets, right here and right now.
So before you ask how I manage running a blog while intentionally attempting to limit screen time, I’ll tell you. I dedicate a certain amount of time to my blog and social media accounts, and then that’s it. I set out an attainable to-do list and once it’s done, I’m cut off. This isn’t Monopoly. You cannot pass GO and collect another 200 likes. You don’t have to respond to every comment the second they come in. You don’t have to put up a photo multiple times a day, or even every day. You don’t need to check your account forty million times after you’ve posted something to see how it’s being received. All will be well, nothing dramatically terrible will happen, I promise.
Social media can be incredibly addictive and it can difficult to stop these kinds of behaviours. But it’s incredibly rewarding to take a digital detox, to put the phone down and walk away. I’m not suggesting you act neglectfully, you should be active, you should engage with people online who support you and inspire you. That’s the beauty of blogging and social media after all. But at some point, you should also leave that phone in another room and let yourself forget about it. In the evenings I try to do just that. Sometimes I need my iPhone to go into Night Shift mode as a personal reminder that it’s too late to still be on it. It’s important to shut your brain off for a while and enjoy the simple pleasures in life, it will only make you that much more productive and creative in the morning.
It can be tempting to use our phones all of the time, the urge to share, and over share is so real. Having a connection with your followers is important, but I argue it’s equally important to maintain a connection to your real life, the actual world that surrounds you, and the people you love within it. Posting all the time, commenting, liking, retweeting…sure, it will probably help you grow. But is that little follower number the only thing that makes you happy? Does it determine your worth and impact your quality of life? If you’re answering yes, I totally understand. But as we head into the New Year, let’s vow to live to the fullest, to enjoy a life full of rich real-life experiences, and to laugh out loud instead of lol. Who’s with me!?
Happy New Year!
Booties from Call It SPRING, can be found here
Shiny Leggings and stripped shirt from H&M, find similar here
MNG leather jacket, find similar here (faux) and here
Gucci black leather backpack, can also be seen in “Toronto Fashion Week: The Madness Continued”, buy it here
Folk patterned shawl (I call it my Polish flower scarf), similar can be found here