Hear me out on this one.
I remember my mum claiming that the internet would be a phase. Turns out it’s one of our strongest connectors yet. We’ve never been more strongly connected as a planet ever. Our information so quick and the barriers so fine. There is nothing one code cannot crack anymore. From voting analytics to seeing inside other people’s worlds.
Yet recently there have been studies that all this connection is bad for the mental health. That seeing only the good in others’ lives is causing serious comparisonitis. And so many – myself included – will go on a “digital detox” for days and weeks to “reconnect with the important things” and “get present with reality again”.
However the other thing I’ve noticed is that by logging out, shutting down and deleting these apps, no matter how long, it turns us into victims. Like “social media is the bad guy” and we must get away from it to save ourselves. Come back feeling healthy again before consuming the digital chocolate bar that goes straight to your hips again.
I’ve been told a few too many times by people that “I should be careful” and “my life is like an episode of Black Mirror” because I post a little more online than the average person. But what is funny is that again makes me sound like I’m not in control! Like I don’t know what I’m doing over here building my portfolio because, hello, I work in digital communications and an online presence is actually kind of necessary.
Which leads me on to my next point. The desire to keep up an interesting Instagram and Twitter feed means I am just that little bit more motivated to find things to do in my spare time. It would be so easy for me to sit at home and do nothing. But I want to grow and I want to entertain so I find and take action having little adventures at the weekend and during the evening. The same goes for this blog. If I didn’t have the blog holding me accountable, I don’t actually know how hard I would be truly pushing myself to achieve the things I want to.
And finally, I spent the Easter bank holiday with uni friends in Liverpool. I could have happily left the camera at home and the iPhone off, no issue! But in spending a day exploring Liverpool city and finally hiking Snowdonia, all I could think about was sharing the moment with others. It is possible to enjoy these moments and want to share them online or with others electronically without succumbing to a victim of “the socials”.
Indulging in the stillness of the mountains, talking about my friend’s engagement and revelling in friendships that are more like family now, is still possible to balance with social updates.
My advice is, if you feel yourself getting anxious from “comparisonitis”, a digital detox will not help you. Like chocolate or cigarettes, you can ween yourself off it for as long as you like, but the moment you you have a little again it is very easy to get sucked back into the addiction and all your hard work is ruined.
Instead, learn to be mindful. Read an actual paper book and put time in your diary that is solely for reading it. I still haven’t go WiFi for the underground so that’s my reading time. When you make a cup of tea, just sit and drink it. No TV, no Phone. Just you, your tea and maybe a comfy chair and good view. Walk with no ear plugs. I stopped listening to music when walking for fear of being mugged in Brazil five years ago. At first it was scary and a little dull walking with no music. But after a while I found myself noticing so much more on these walks. I was more aware of my surroundings and seeing things on routes I would have never noticed previously. I put them back in a couple of times when I first moved back and it completely irritated me. Like noise cluttering my thoughts. I learned to be with myself. Which at the end of the day is where comparisonitis originates from.
We look outside at what is apparently available in others lives and not our own when we are not happy with ourselves and our lives. Hence the victim state again.
So the moral here kids is, you don’t need to cut out anything out for a while. Your life is actually perfect on paper. Take a look at what it is you’re missing and go to work from there. If it’s a holiday, save. If it’s your friends, invite them over.
The internet is here to stay and will always be a part of our lives. It’s time to learn to be empowered with it.
How do you feel about “digital detoxes”?