Think back five years, did you take the occasional picture, have a twitter rant bi-annually and maybe post dreadful pictures from your night out on Facebook, now it seems that every waking moment is about scrolling, whether that’s through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or even online news websites, the scroll is an overwhelming part of our days, our mobile phones are an extension of our bodies.
For me, scrolling has become an over-anxious activity, I was stressing that if I didn’t keep up with my engagement activity on Instagram that my likes and comments would also decrease, and in turn my follower count wouldn’t grow, which is exactly what has happened. But instead of being down about it, I’m embracing a new unplug philosophy ‘Scrolling Less, Living More’.
I’ve always had a thing about not working on the weekend, there are occasions when it is unavoidable, mainly fashion week, but for the most part I like to spend time at home, with my husband, taking the dog out, travelling, visiting family and friends, and actually living. Even though my job is fluid, I like the concept that work is a Monday to Friday thing, the weekend is all about life. Instagram has kind of changed that as I feel like I need to be on it, all the time, I can never fully stop.
Taking a social detox – the magic of unplugging
With that in mind it, when we moved to our ‘forever house’ we made it a rule that every Friday was a no phone zone, we wanted to be able to eat together, have a conversation, say goodbye to the week’s work issues and start a fresh for the weekend. So every Friday night as soon as my husband comes through the door, our phones go on their chargers and we ignore them until we get up Saturday morning, and I can’t tell you how refreshing such a small change to our lifestyle this has made.
Over the course of a year doing this, I’ve become less reliant on my mobile, I unplug and ignore it more, which in turn means I scroll less. It also means that for the rest of the weekend I tend to use it less as well as we’ve normally planned our weekend out on the Friday night.
I’ve also embrace the no notifications settings, I generally keep my phone on silent all the time anyway, much to the annoyance of my husband, I do miss a lot of calls, but as I always say if it is important they will call back or leave a voicemail, and if they know me well they will have also dropped me a WhatsApp so I return their call. But for me, I hate being alerted to a comment on social media, when someone likes, and even when someone sends me a DM, it is fine for me to just see that information when I open the app, I as do that every day. The only variation on that is probably WhatsApp that does tell me at the top of my mobile screen.
I also made a decision last year to get rid of the Facebook app off my mobile, I find it such a drain on life, it is full of brands, news, and pointless information now, the family and friends connection has truly been lost over the last couple of years, and to be honest real friends are the ones I Whatsapp and see regularly, I don’t need to see where they’ve checked-in, and to be honest I’d rather digest that information on Twitter or Instagram.
But Instagram is the main reason why I think a regular social media unplug should be a part of anyones routine. Once a place to share spontaneous moments, it has become about presets, fancy travel locations, crazy set-ups and dare I say it money. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for making a buck out of an Instagram picture, I’ve just feel it should be considered and measured, I still work to the no more than 1 a week, no more than 3 a month, and I prefer it to be cross-promotional content that lines up with content on my blog, the platform I’ve grown for the past 10 years. I want any campaign to be more than follower and like numbers, I want it to have meaning, longevity and in-line with It’s A Danielle Life.
This isn’t about throwing shade, people take Ads for different reasons, I’m lucky that blogging isn’t my full-time job, so the money I make on here, and on my social feeds is a bonus, generally goes on the latest home project or holiday, the only remit I place on myself is to make enough money to pay for my hosting, my domain names, my security and back-ups, and anything else blog related.
What I have become tired of though is the greed and excess that has come with this Instaboom, and the feeling that I’m constantly on catch-up, whether that’s needing more followers, the 10k mark came and went as quick as it came and I can’t see that target ever being hit again as I slowly loose followers, and I just can’t create the content that is needed now to make Instagram work quick enough.
People are saying that twice a day is helping them boost engagement and grow, but I can’t even keep up with once a day, never mind every-other. For me, I don’t want to post for the sake of it, but then I’m penalised by Insta for not using the platform. I really find the whole create “good content and your Insta tribe will come” is one of the most annoying statements. I don’t think my content is bad, of course there are people who are killing it, but I also know that I couldn’t go to those extremes, I don’t have the time, the figure, or even the same opportunities as press trips don’t come calling every week to jet me off to another Insta-perfect place.
I think that’s one of my main issues with Instagram, how elitist it has become, the same group of generally white, skinny influencers, including some with over-inflated follower numbers, get to experience all the Insta-crazy events, trips, experiences and incredible gifts. Wouldn’t we all make great content if we were flown to Marrakech, the Maldives, or the Italian Riveria with suitcases full of new clothes, shoes, jewellery and beauty products? I know some would say that these mainly girls worked hard, I’m not knocking that, what I’m saying is that others work hard they just don’t have as many followers.
It is the comparison trap that I think is one of the most worrying elements of social media to people’s mental health, I know we shouldn’t be bothered about one person does, receives or has, but it is human nature. Once upon a time you’d only be comparing yourself to a handful of people, maybe that popular girl from school, your close group of friends, work collegues and family members, but now there are hundreds of people out there that can make an impact on your wellbeing, if you don’t try and keep it in check, and remember, these influencers are probably only sharing like 10 percent of their life. Yeah that 10 percent might be amazing, but you just don’t know what’s going on with them the rest of the time. While people seem online 24-7, they aren’t, they just spread out the good stuff, because again that’s human nature, we don’t generally share the dull or bad, as we all know that only our closest sounding boards would actually care.
My Top 3 Tips to Unplug
- Don’t sleep with your mobile. I don’t allow my mobile in my bedroom, instead I charge in my office downstairs, while my husband charges his in the kitchen – by not having it near you before you go to sleep you won’t be tempted to do in-bed scrolling or allow it to be the first thing you do in the morning. Trust me, no Instagram picture is that important for you to see.
- No mobile phone use after 9pm, or more general, an hour before bed. Granted this one gets broken a little, but when I need an unplug I even make it more like 7pm to really step away from the ‘gram.
- Get outside. Trust me, when you have living to, whether that’s a walk through the woods, a day trip to the beach or a spot of gardening, you won’t have time to scroll.