As someone who spends their work life, and a lot of their personal life, online, particularly on social media, I've felt truly conflicted recently with the role of social media in my life, and whether my constant participation is necessary (/harmful/frivolous/beneficial) for my career and overall well-being. And I'm not the only one... from influencers to companies, people are (finally) starting to discuss the benefits of a social media detox. I've definitely seen a need for one come to fruition in my own life: Often I see on social media, particularly with creatives such as writers, designers, photographers, painters, that they create such beautiful things in so many ways, and not just for work. They pursue passion projects. They design 'just because'. I found myself questioning how they had ‘all of this time’ to do these things. And then I started to notice... while they were creating, and simply posting to social media, I, unlike them, was being sucked into the vortex of the endless scroll. Maybe an assumption here, but probably not.
Here's where I feel an internal conflict. As a digital marketer, is my up to date knowledge on everything social media something that makes me successful in my career? In some ways, I do think it is. Knowing who's who online and forging connections both professionally and otherwise is a large and super important part of what I do. I even advise my own clients on the importance of timely engagement with their followers and other accounts. So what will a social media detox look like for me? What's the perfect equilibrium between staying on top of a social platform that can be compared to a black hole (...yikes) and taking the time to step away, to enjoy the life that I'm living in real time.
It's hard. And I'm still figuring it out, to be honest. But here's what I'm trying so far:
A nighttime cutoff | I’m trying to step away from social media, and my phone in general, after 9pm. I just have to remember...anything that is posted at 9pm will be most definitely be there waiting for me at 7am. Plus, less screen time before bed is proven to have a huge positive effect sleep, and for someone who truly values sleep, this is a no brainer.
Do something 'active' | I prefer to walk to most places that I need to go in the city, so I am walking a lot of the time. What's nice about this time is that for the most part, I put in my headphones and use that time to zone out with music and my own thoughts. But active is subjective: If it's not walking, I like to cook to keep me busy. Whatever it is, do something that takes you off the seat that you're in and gets you moving. It helps.
Short bursts of unplugged time for creativity | Set your alarm for 20-30 minutes and put it on silent, face down. Use this time to be creative. Usually once I get inspired and over those first few minutes of 'withdrawal', I actually get so involved that I don't want my timer to end! Recently I've been trying stream of consciousness writing. I've wanted to get back into writing for fun, and plus, it's said that stream of consciousness writing (essentially journalling) is really great for mental wellness and stress relief.
Disassociate posting for yourself vs. posting to post | The pressure can be real on this one. If you're not posting, are you losing followers? Will people forget about you? Will the algorithm work against you? When at first we might say yes, the reality is that engaged followers only care about your content and how great it is... which normally is a natural result of passionate work. When taking and posting photos becomes laborous, or you post something just to get content out there, it usually isn't your best. I’ve been working to except ebbs and flows in my creative process, as opposed to fight it, and work with my inspiration only when it comes naturally.
Just look up | Whenever you consciously find yourself scrolling on your phone, then also make the conscious decision to just look up, look around and put the phone down. Take a few deep breaths, pet your dog, stretch. It truly becomes the first step in breaking the habit.
Have you tried a social media detox?? I’d love to know!