If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I became increasingly absent in recent months. There are several reasons for that, the main I read some articles on how to practice slow living. That helped me realize that social media made me anxious. Instead of happy and connected I felt alone and like a loser. I compared my life to other people’s highlight reels. And the grass seemed greener on the other side.
I used to spend up to three hours per day liking, commenting, and engaging with my audience. As long as I did that, I reached the number of likes one would expect for someone with my audience. But in March, when the lockdown started, I could not keep up. I started to feel that my “real” life was falling through my fingers. They closed the daycare, my husband lost his job and I had to work at home. The time had come to re-evaluate my relationship with, consumption and dependency on social media.
I have already shared several articles on this topic. We can say that I knew I was addicted but didn’t want to let go. I feared that if I stop promoting big brands and keeping my social media accounts alive, my blogging career will stop. I had been building it for seven years, waiting for the big bang but nothing was coming. In fact, I was working my a** off juggling work, blogging, and family. Seven years in, and it gave me more headaches than pleasure.
Last March was different because I was ready to let go. Let go of my idea of what I wanted to become and which was not happening anyway. My ultimate goal was to be a full-time blogger. But that did not happen. When I looked at other bloggers, I felt that life was not fair. I worked so hard but did not get a big break nor a cover in the national newspaper. What I failed to see was that most full-time bloggers in Switzerland had parents or a husband who could finance their blogging career.
I was so focused on making it as a blogger that I forgot what was right in front of me.
- A career – It took me three years to get a job in the UN. Soon I will mark ten years of service.
- Education – I have a university degree, and I had the opportunity to study abroad.
- Perseverance – I moved to Switzerland to be with my first husband, I survived the divorce.
- Resilience – I managed to take care of myself alone in a foreign country. I could have returned to the Czech Republic but I knew I would make it here.
- Community – I easily connect with people around me. I feel at home in Switzerland because I have built long-lasting friendships. I have my own community of friends that lived with me through my ups and downs.
- Love & Family – I met my current husband, we have an amazing daughter and we are healthy.
Writing down these facts helped me realize that I have a lot to be grateful for. Ultimately, if blogging was my full-time career, how would I survive COVID-19 times? Would I have to work with brands I don’t like to survive?
My understanding of slow living is that I focus on being present. I put my phone down and look around me when I am on the train. Or I read a book. Can you believe that I have never read so many books and studies?
Unhooking From Social Media
- Phone applications – I deleted all that I did not use.
- Social media – I set up a time limit on my phone. Once you reach it, it will close the app down no matter if you’re talking to your mom on WhatsApp. I had to revisit this time limit to make it realistic for me since I live abroad and want to talk to my parents on a daily basis.
- Email – My aim is to check my personal email once a day. I am still struggling with it. Right now I check my emails three times a day, which is already progress.
- Email newsletters – I unsubscribed from all that I did not read.
- Push notifications – I turned them all off. Now I don’t look at my phone every few minutes to check who mentioned me on LinkedIn or who liked my picture on Instagram.
- I don’t use my phone for one hour before I go to sleep. And I don’t use it right after I wake up – gone are the times when I was scrolling through my social media feeds in the bathroom.
- I started to volunteer – I bring my daughter and several other kids home from school on the day I don’t work. And I started engaging more with our neighbors.
I feel more calm and peaceful. Now, I don’t care what people think when they ask me why I have such a low amount of likes on Instagram now. You know, I am not going down that rabbit hole again. These days, I visit Instagram and Facebook once a week to promote my new article or a video. I stopped following accounts that made me feel like a loser. And I started following environmental and social activists to educate myself.
It helps me to focus on being present and watch my thoughts. It is a way of practicing meditation in daily life. Ten years ago I went to India to do a silent retreat but during my social media addiction, I forgot how to be at peace.
I stopped feeling ashamed and started talking about buying clothes in consignment stores and second hands. I was afraid people would judge me. But if I want to share what I do to be more sustainable, I have to be honest. The same applies to beauty products. I asked PR Agencies to stop sending me goodies. First, 99% of the product’s packaging is plastic and contains chemicals. Secondly, I don’t want to promote what I receive when I did not ask for it.
Let me be clear: sustainability is not a sexy topic when it comes to collaborations. I mean, if I lived from blogging, I would not be able to make this choice. But since I don’t, I can write my own rules. This decision helped me discover new sustainable brands, grew as a person, and be more at peace.
I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.Invictus, William Ernest Henley
What is your relationship with social media? Can you imagine limiting the time you spend on your favorite social media platform? Or leaving social media altogether?