I’d say relationship with my phone and social media has been a mild concern for some time. While I do mostly enjoy social media (I have met some amazing people through it and love the inspiration and how it lets me keep up with friends) – I’m very aware of how much has been reported about the negative, darker side too.
It’s true that social media can be addictive, can be bad for self-esteem and together with smart phones it has significantly shortened our attention spans. So, after a particularly heavy period of social media use (both work and personal), I thought I might give a seven-day digital detox a go. It coincided nicely with a much-needed holiday to Cyprus for some sun, sea and sand.
Okay, so I didn’t exactly have a proper digital detox, I wasn’t in some yogic retreat but rather an ultra-modern hotel where even the curtains were controlled from an in-room tablet. So, it was more of a seven-day social media break (“digital detox” just sounded better!).
That said, I don’t think I have ever needed the break from work or my phone more than I did on this trip. If you follow me on social media, you might have seen me out and about at various events recently – most of which have been for work (not always obvious from my posts as I do tend to post just the fun highlights! FOMO and all that). I have absolutely loved the events and campaigns I’ve worked on in recent months but after so much, so close together, I was feeling a little drained. Some people will know I have a part-time, in-house PR role as my ‘day job’ – I also work freelance the rest of the time. Mostly this works fairly harmoniously and allows for good creative balance. However, recent months have been full on in both roles and it’s been high stress at times. I cannot tell you how much I was looking forward to my week in Cyprus.
So, here are few (almost) phone free observations from the last week…
Firstly, it’s a little bit impossible to have a complete digital detox. I still looked on TripAdvisor for restaurant reviews and WhatsApped my family for example. I deemed this acceptable, but the lines could easily get blurred – so set boundaries if doing your own ‘detox’ and be honest about what you have an unhealthy relationship with.
Notification free = stress free
After just a couple of day so off, you start to care less about notifications. Obviously there are less of them if you’re not active and engaging but it doesn’t take long before they start to lose their appeal. I’ve always found notifications a little stressful anyway (maybe because my work role involves responding to notifications) – when they come through my brain sometimes treats them the same way it treats a work to-do list.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought
I didn’t miss it quite as much as I thought I would. There were certainly moments alone when I was tempted to browse Instagram for something to do, but I just kept to my own thoughts and I think I was better for it. I also read three books which was lovely and made me resolve to read more in my free time at home, instead of watching TV or aimlessly browsing social media.
Making up for missed selfies?
I took more selfies during the break, I’m not sure why, I’m not a very big selfie sharer usually – perhaps it was just coincidence with me being away and having lots of fun holiday outfits and time to spend on hair and makeup. Or, more strangely, was I actually missing the barrage of selfies I’d normally encounter everyday on social media?
Overall, my week off made me think more about the quality of what I post. The urge to share meals out, lovely views and other holiday spam was strong, and I thought to myself I’ll just share the best of it at the end of the week. This probably saved my few followers from some really rather rubbish and pointless Insta stories! Seriously, there’s so much naff, unoriginal, uninspiring content out there – I want to try not to be part of that. Just because you can put anything on stories doesn’t mean you should I told myself when the week was over. Do not put something on social media for the sake of it – tell a good story, have a purpose for posting.
Benefits for business
It’s had the same effect on my work social media, I feel refreshed and ready to revitalise this now. It can be easy to get lost in putting what bosses and others in an organisation want on social media, even when you know it doesn’t feel right – but stay strong and think of the audience is my new motto here.
Did my mind get sharper?
This may be stretching it a little, it was only a seven-day break but in a week where my husband and I packed in plenty of crosswords (we really are a rock ‘n’ roll pair), I felt I got better and better at them as the week went on. Who knows if this would have continued, further experimentation is needed to confirm this – but it’s a nice theory.
Focused or uninspired?
Similar to the above point, is how I felt able to focus more. Without social media I found I could concentrate more on one thing at a time and not get distracted. I completed online (and offiline) tasks without being led astray or falling down a Pinterest hole. However, I do sometimes enjoy my trip down that rabbit hole and come away full of new ideas, places I want to go and things I want to try out or make. I love the inspiration that social media can provide, and I know I definitely missed this. Following food and travel hashtags on Instagram always has me dreaming about what I want to do next. I need to strike a balance with this and mindless scrolling.
Have you ever tried cutting out or cutting down on social media? I’d love to hear your experiences if so.