As a society, I’d say we’re switched on/plugged in/connected every second of every day. We thrive off the instant gratification when our Instagram posts get a like and we’re constantly checking to see if we’ve missed a message or phone call. If we’re not doing that, then we are mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, watching YouTube videos into the early hours or we’re following the latest trending topic on Twitter. Outside of that, we’re then checking our emails, our work emails, seeing if we’ve had a message on LinkedIn… the list goes on. We’re continuously, relentlessly and detrimentally digitally connected.
There have been times when I have been in my living room and I’ve looked up and every person, including me, is on their mobile phone and anyone not on their phone has been put into a trance watching the latest trendy programme on Netflix. No one speaks, no one is in the moment, no one is present and no one is interested in the people in that room because what’s going on on their phone is more important. We’ve lost the art of just being in a moment with one another, enjoying eachother’s company and just being. I can guarantee that you’ll be out in a group, eating dinner and suddenly someone will whip out their phone to answer a message or text someone because they just remembered something.
It’s sad. The more aware of it I have become, the more I want to make sure that I am present in the moment because I’ll never get that moment back.
There are certain things that I think you need a smartphone for and it’s highly unlikely that I will give it up (never say never though). It does make my life easier. HOWEVER, I have made a few changes to my phone in terms of the applications that I use.. I have three folders on my phone.
Everyday – these are the apps that I use every single day or nearly everyday.
Everything – these are the apps that I might need at some point BUT only includes apps that I actually use, there are no games and no apps that will keep me on my phone longer than needed.
Finance – I had to keep my finance apps separate because I am quite particular about money and so I like to have that to hand easily.
Then finally, I have my four most used apps – Messages, WhatsApp, Phone and Camera. These apps are used again regularly and probably the only ones that need to be on my home screen.
The rest of my screen is taken up with a photo of the moment – right now it’s myself and my fiance, other times it could be a quote or a family picture. That photo reminds me that I have somewhere else to be rather than on my phone.
You don’t have to have a social media account. I know plenty of people that don’t and they function absolutely fine. Personally, I only have professional accounts Twitter – one for Artiscado (and one for Digital Blanc, my marketing blog, where I talk about my life as a marketer). I think Twitter is a great source for news and a great place to share ideas but I’ve had personal accounts, I’ve found myself mindlessly commenting, retweeting, reading to the point where hours of my life have just drifted by. Now my social activity has purpose and reason and so I’m really particular about how I use the app itself. I’ve deleted my Facebook account, that was more to do with the Facebook scandals more than anything else, secondly, I was barely using it yet all this personal data was available to companies and finally, it was boring, I had so called friends on there that I hadn’t seen in years. While I have open account for Artiscado, I use it predominantly to talk about this blog, products that I like and share quotes that have really meaning to me. I have a private Instagram account for my personal life and I am very selective about who I let follow me – friends and family only, if I don’t know you and you don’t know me, then why do you need to follow me? I used to have an open account and post about every aspect of my life…I wanted the likes, I wanted to feel good about myself but now I am more selective about what I share and who I share it to as well. I think it’s important to remember when you have the accounts too… my personal account is for me, my family and my friends – the people that care about me and what is going on in my life, because actually what happens in my life has some resonance to them, whereas my professional accounts are about sharing what matters to me and what I’ve learned on my journey.
I also think it’s important to remember that the social channels we use represent an aspect that we want to show the world and it’s not always the real us…when we scroll through someone’s profile, we are seeing what they want us to see. We aren’t seeing the super bad day they’ve had, the struggles that are having at work, depressive episodes or the days when they just can’t bring themselves to get out of bed. You see a carefully curated world, the world that they want you to see.
The problem is, that carefully curated world brings to light our insecurities – we start to think our lives are boring or that we don’t have nice clothes or that our houses are small and shabby compared to others. We start doubting ourselves instead of realising that actually, our lives are just that, they are ‘our’ lives and we live them in the way that is right for us. If you want to sell all your possessions and travel for the rest of your life because you think that being a travel blogger is incredibly glamorous then that’s fine but remember those travel bloggers have their own hardships to deal with: The Reality Of Being A Travel Blogger: It Might Actually Ruin Your Trip, this is a small insight but just think about it – if you’re curating what people see, then surely they are too. Another thing, if you are curating your life then where is the real, authentic you?
Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who post on social and live the life that they show, but you only know that by talking to them and actually having a human connection with them that’s outside of the digital world. If have a close friend, who recently got divorced, she told me that a lot things that she has wanted to do, she couldn’t do while she was married and so she is out every weekend doing some amazing things…I don’t just see them on social though, I see her and she tells me all about it too!!!
I think it is important to find the balance as well for the sake of your sanity and your ego. Human beings are fragile creatures and it’s so easy to inflate a false sense of self when you get a million and one likes, however, it is also just as easy to bring someone to their knees with unkind comments. When you post with purpose and reason, it means you’re posting to add value and so you feel good and right because you know you’re doing something to make the world a little better.
Finally, I want to close with two things – firstly, be in the moment.. your phone, emails and social media all have their place, there is no doubt about that, but don’t get so caught up with living a curated life that you forget to live your real one.
Secondly, trolling and online bullying. Social media and the digital sphere come with great responsibility. We’re now connected more than ever to so many people in this world and it’s so easy to say unkind and unnecessary things because we’re protected by the barrier that is out smartphone or computer. Words have consequences and words stay with you, they can lift you up or they can wound you and leave you in a dark place that you didn’t know existed. Caroline Flack, Mike Thalassitis, Jesy Nelson, Meghan Markle.. the list is endless… a target is chosen and then the bombardment is relentless. Through social media our lives become exposed, open and it’s all laid bare, ready to fire upon. Can you honestly say that you’ve not made mistakes, that you’ve not just been ‘human’?. Take a breath, be kind.