A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast about digital minimalism. It was the first time that I heard the term, but it resonated with me so much that I ordered the book by the end of the episode. This post will share my thoughts on why I recommend doing digital detox and why you have to start using social media intentionally.
I have a retiring friend, and one of her goals is to learn to use social media. I can imagine that she will find my advice strange since everyone tells her that every business has to be present on social media. But is that really true?
According to Cal Newport, the author of Digital Minimalism, it is not about leaving social media per se but using them intentionally. Not as a knee-jerk response to feelings of boredom or frustration. Just think about it: how often do you grab your phone to check if someone answered your text message, liked your photo, or retweeted your post? Do you know how much time do you spend scrolling through your social media feed per day? And do you really feel more connected to others?
According to Cal Newport, when we don’t use social media intentionally, we end up feeling more lonely and anxious. Why?
– Because these apps were engineered in the same way as slot machines in a casino. You keep coming back several times a day to check if you got more likes, comments, or re-tweets. And if you don’t get the social approval you expect, you’ll feel down.
– Because your real social interactions falter. If you constantly check your phone notifications, you can’t be present and have an engaged face-to-face conversation.
BOOKS TO BUY AND READ:
Most of us use our mobile phones not to make phone calls but to use third-party applications. We are more anxious than ever, even though we have access to more information than ever before. All this information overload is exhausting, triggering negative emotions (especially if you read politically charged news) and leave us feeling lonelier than before.
I have spoken here about my struggle with social media addiction several times. As a blogger and influencer, my job is to be actively present on social media, grow my following, get more likes, views, and engagement. After seven years, I felt exhausted. Every time I was attending events with other influencers, I felt the pressure to compare myself to others. And no matter how many likes I got, it was never enough. At one moment, I started to feel that it was me who was not enough.
This rat race is encouraged by advertising agencies that choose influencers based on their engagement. Thus, if you want to be a full-time blogger/influencer, you have to grow your audience and be popular.
The only way out is to reassess the pros and cons. Does the time, money, and energy that you invest bring something back? In my case, it did not. I did not make money, did not have time for people I loved, and felt anxious and down.
When I shared my feelings with friends who know me for years and are not on social media, they could not understand me. My real life was great in their eyes: I’ve been working for the UN for ten years, have an amazing husband and wonderful daughter. So why if in real life, everything was working out, I let social media make me feel like a loser?
SAY GOODBYE TO SOCIAL MEDIA
A year and a half ago, I slowly started distancing myself from social media until I finally stopped caring about the number of likes I got. It does not trigger me anymore that my engagement is low because I use Instagram occasionally.
After reading the book, I started a one-month long digital detox. I took off my phone all “optional” social media apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Email, and Facebook. I kept WhatsApp because it the app I use to call my parents, my sister, and my friends who live abroad. If I want to check my email, I have to do it on my laptop. The aim is to take a break and decide after thirty days which apps bring value to my life. Those that do, I can re-introduce back but use them with a clear intention.
The good thing about digital detox is that you will have more time that you can use to:
- READ. Suddenly, I have time to read one book per week, which seemed impossible when I was glued to Instagram.
- EXERCISE. Even though they closed the gyms due to COVID-19, you can exercise at home and go for a run outside.
- HAVE A CONVERSATION. Talk to my husband and concentrate on what he is saying.
- HAVE SEX. Did you know that mobile phones and streaming platforms are sex killers?.
- WORK. Once you don’t get disturbed by constant notifications and status updates, you can focus better and be more engaged at work.
- SLOW DOWN. I signed up at the library. It has been twenty years since I have not been borrowing books, actually, since I left University. Even though you can’t stay at the library too long because of the current sanitary situation, it feels great to have this new regular activity. Chloe-Sofia has a library card too and borrows new books every week.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF. I signed up for:
1) A French course so that I can pass a French language test.
2) A mindfulness meditation course. I have been practicing meditation for over twenty years and have attended many retreats, but I need a certificate to teach meditation. This course is the first step.
3) I started taking sewing lessons.
How do social media make you feel? Do you think you need a digital detox? Let me know in the comments below.