Sometimes it’s only when the overwhelm of life hits us that we step back from the world of social media.
If you’re feeling forced to stay away from social media or start to resent using it, you’re probably well overdue a social media break. Like holidays, staycations and just time out of everyday life, I think that social media breaks are a total necessity.
Last week I completely abandoned all forms of social media. It was kind of on purpose and kind of accidental but a few days in I realised why I’d suddenly turned my nose up at spending my spare hours scrolling through Instagram. I know these posts are mostly six-of-1-and-half-a-dozen-of-the-other and I’m not promising anything extraordinary on the other end BUT I do have some opinions on social media, taking breaks and the rest.
Entering Social Media Mode
We all know that SM is shiny and polished and edited, and even with more honesty and openness about life not always being as picture perfect as an Instagram feed, I don’t feel like the ‘highlight reel’ of SM is ever going to go away – which is fine. To a large extent, why the hell should it?
Social media is a wonderful escape for some people and for others it’s a place for themselves to curate their own lives (however small a part of it), giving us a chance to see it how we would in a film, or how we’d imagine someone’s tea + cake afternoon in a book. It’s basically art. The beauty of social media has always been that it’s real and it’s picky. Honestly, no one wants to see people’s pants drying in the background of a selfie, people don’t really want to know if you’ve got terrible diarrhoea and all you can take a snap of is the dusty shelving unit opposite the toilet. Why? Because people have standards and that’s human and normal and something we need to keep around. Social media works best with an air of perfection – without going down the road of bare faced lying…
Social media is a source of communication and inspiration, so talking about things people want to engage with and posting media that is a little polished keeps us all going and striving for that little bit better. When I see a tidy living room a part of me groans and wishes mine looked that clean, but most of me is thinking, “Oh, that looks great! Maybe I should get off of my arse and make my home look pretty too.”.
When we’re fed up of scrolling through pictures and watching vlogs that make us jealous, it’s not a sign that we need to revolutionize the internet, it’s a sign that we need a flipping break. Just like escaping reality and watching Harry Potter all the time isn’t healthy, living on social media isn’t either!
The amount we consume and absorb on a daily basis is probably ten-fold that of five years ago (not a scientific figure), so is it really that surprising that when our phoneless-hands are scrolling in our sleep we feel burnt out and obsessed with checking that new update? It’s been ingrained into us, but we still have the ability to take control.
Learning The Un-Instagram Way
I’m using Instagram because… I mean, where do we all spend most of our SM time these days? Exactly.
Last week I didn’t Instagram for seven whole days. I tried to post several times earlier in the week before realising that compiling a group of ‘relevant’ hashtags was making me lose the will to live and I’d rather deal with the consequences of inconsistent posting than sell my soul to the disgustingly false-positive caption. After a few days, the addiction to check and scroll and like and swipe wore down, and I started to notice things without the social media lens in the way.
Things like enjoying the taste of my lunch rather than worrying about the bowl that looks best in photos, things like wanting to go somewhere that I just wanted to go rather than knowing I could get a few ‘on-brand’ shots there, things like actually quite liking how the bed looks when it’s half made compared to a tucked-corners-and-arranged-cushions Instagram scene.
Being completely honest, my forced break from social media (but mostly Instagram) made me realise that life without social media happens, and it can be just as good as social media advertises it to be (it can also be bad – just like anything, really). Like most of the best things, balance is key. Especially in the case of social media, the balance of consumption and creation is pivotal to a healthy, happy relationship with our online world.
Social media is, and always will be, a tool. A tool to grow, or share or communicate or entertain – what’s it’s not, is a way of life.
Taking a week’s break helped me learn that taking a break is okay. Sure, it’s not what all the best social media tips say, but it’s better to just have a life than a life online.