I’ll put my hands up to once being in the camp of social media hater. I knew I should join the masses, but I hated the idea of the intrusion. Why should I be sharing my new happy, little life with people I didn’t particularly know very well anymore?
It just didn’t sit too well.
Don’t get me wrong, there were many old friends who I loved catching up with, poking, liking, private messaging old times. But there were also the ones who could barely muster a glance, let alone a smile or courtesy “hello” in public yet here they were, having complete access to the ins-and-outs of the nitty gritty, I or anyone who tagged me, decided to share.
They’d know where I’d been on holiday and whatever mood I was in without even having to waste breathing space in my general direction. And that was wrong, in my eyes, wrong.
Call me picky, but I just didn’t see how having a bulging Facebook friends list was going to make my life any better. And don’t even get me started on Twitter. All I knew was that someone had insulted Stephen Fry (his tweets were boring, apparently) so he’d taken umbrage and left.
But surely if Stephen Fry couldn’t hack the Twitter pace, there was no way simple old, not very exciting me, was going to risk it!
Yet here I am with my handles and profile photos, living the social media life as all that changed as I slowly realised I could hold the virtual reins in the social media stratosphere. That for my blog and soon my business to succeed I needed to venture in with both eyes open and embrace this ever evolving world.
A world where pretty soon I wouldn’t even need to stroll down to the newsagent to buy a magazine, as I could find out all about the latest must-have products at the touch of a finger tip, Pretty soon, my recreational and research reading was all online.
Even soap operas took a step out of my evening’s entertainment, I had my own reality show here, online. A morbid urge to pry and indulge the gossip all there, for my viewing pleasure.Friend or celeb, I could hear it all, whenever, and however I pleased.
And despite being in what could-have been a very lonely position on maternity leave as I left friends and colleagues behind, it was quite the opposite. Instead I had access to a community of like-minded people, day and night.
This digital world wasn’t shaping up to badly after all.
I was hooked as my world would become more and more digital. I’d socialize, bank, work, take photos, share photos, research, plan, watch and shop all from the comfort of my friend, my companion, my iPhone.
And that’s when it hit me, my life was being played out in silence, over a screen. I’d become so absorbed in this lifestyle which I’d once tried to resist, that I was missing the real life. I’d watch fireworks through a lens instead of just enjoying them, my quest for preserving that feeling for ever was lost and the reality was I’d never really been part of that feeling in the first place.
So I took a digital detox.
A 4 days, 4 nights, no iPhone, no laptop, no social media digital detox.
The first day was easy. I was hitting the ground running while stressed to hilt. Any moments free, where I would normally reach for my phone were pushed aside.
I needed a break, I must have a break, I will have a break.
I played games with my son, kept myself busy and reminded myself that all would not be lost if I didn’t Instagram that really cute photo. hash tag or no hash tag. I will not pick up that phone.
Day two came and went, I’d completely de-stressed. I even sat and watched the trees blowing in the wind. (not done that without the urge to reach for my phone and photograph it in a long time) in tranquility, I gathered my thoughts and noticed how much slower my mind now seemed.
For the first time in years I wasn’t racing round in my head with a list of to-dos. It felt nice. And oddly I had no interest in seeing what everyone else in Facebook world was up to.
It felt really, really nice. Liberating almost.
By day three I was there; The calm, digital free world I’d planned for. My fingers had lost their familiar ache and I had no desire to share anything with anyone, ever again. I’d gathered my thoughts and calmed my mind. I’d rebooted ‘me’.
Then I lapsed. One momentary, lapse. A photo which, ironically, represented the freedom and unplugged moment I was living, and I shared it. I wanted everyone to know I was still here, not forgotten, just chilled. Why I needed to share escapes me, more boredom than anything I suspect. My calm mind was now boring me and I needed connecting. Or distracting, that’s what I needed, distracting.
So I wrote, with a real pen and paper, I wrote. I’m a writer, a blogger, by trade. It’s where I dump my thoughts to make space for the new ones and so I needed to transfer the calm, gentle thoughts I now had floating in my head somewhere. Instinctively I reached for my phone, just like I do any other time I have a moment free.
87 Facebook and 20+ Twitter notifications, 112 emails.
And I caved. not spectacularly, more a slippery slope. Those numbers glaring at me, beckoning me into see what lay beneath.
And that was the end of my digital detox. 2 days, 2 nights and a smidge of a morning. But in that short space of time I had time to think, time to breath and time to appreciate the world around me,
As it was, in high-definition.