How have I possibly survived? Read on to find out.
A wise person once said: “never before has a generation so diligently recorded themselves for doing so little.” And how right they were. Social media has warped our sense of reality, distorted our humanity and ticked off everyone trying to hold a conversation with us while we upload an “urgent” new tweet at the dinner table. It has made us lazy, good-for-nothing cry-babies whose sole purpose in life has been to achieve as many “likes” as possible, at the detriment to our sanity, health, friendships, family and – perhaps most destructive of all – our very existence as we used to know it.
We are rapidly becoming machines, having the life force sucked out of us by our constant, screaming need for attention online, and we have forgotten what it’s like to exist in the real world around us. And yet we revel in it, gild ourselves in the vacuous cheap success we achieve when our new hairdo gets thousands of thumbs up, a small pay rise is exaggerated to make everyone else feel miserable, and we pass a milestone of Instagram followers because we put glasses on a cat. And like a gambler who can’t walk away from one more bet – we keep coming back for more.
Soul Sucking Social Media
As you might have gleaned, I had grown extremely weary of the social media sphere, after over six years of aggressively pushing an online presence. It had become an exhausting, daily struggle to maintain interest, promote our blogs and rake in new followers. Real life began to take a back seat, and I had forgotten why I was doing all of this in the first place. And the soul-destroying didn’t just stop with my own online actions.
Social media can be a breeding ground of negativity, and insecurities will feed on others successes like a parasite, with constant, disparaging thoughts that go hand in hand with comparing oneself to others. And of course – everyone out there is living perfect, incredibly blessed lives! Everything is going their way, they’re loved by millions, and not a hair is out of place. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I was tired of the fake pretenses, status updates, and photographs I was bombarded with every time I logged on. Nobody is perfect, although they try to make you believe they are! Something had to give. I decided to follow the more wholesome path of a social media detox. Or at least try to! Easier said than done! But here we are, 365 days later after I ditched the digital and took my life back. So, how did I get on?
Did I Make it out Alive?!
To put it short – it has been an amazing decision for me, my life and the direction I want to be going in. That’s the “in a nutshell” version, but it’s more complex than that. I began to find myself again, to rediscover the joys of being alive without the pressure to conform, look beautiful all the time or get validations from strangers. Without the need to constantly take photographs and post status updates on all the major platforms I was free to manage my time much more effectively, and this I did with aplomb. I was doing the things I love to do the most – travel with Cez, actually see and take in the world around me and make meaningful, real-world connections with creative people.
I soon forgot those anxious, stressful feelings of comparing myself to everyone else online, which became a thing of the past quite rapidly. All you have to do is unplug yourself!
The pressure to be online evaporated. Those horrible FOMO feelings (Fear of Missing Out) that we all get when we’re not checking our notifications every ten seconds – they just disappeared. Suddenly, the world became a bigger place again.
My horizons expanded, my attitude changed. I was breathing clean air. I wasn’t posing for pictures and forcing a smile even if I wasn’t feeling great. Plus, I didn’t feel I was being judged – and in turn – I wasn’t judging others. I took pictures in my head and committed them to that wonderful hard drive – the brain!
There was no need to upload anywhere else to get someone’s opinion. It was personal, it was memorable and it was mine. The best experiences I’ve had this past year have come without a phone in my hands and with no access to Wi-Fi.
Becoming Human. Again.
And with that came deeper, more empathic, human connections. I was actually talking to people! And people are interesting! Instead of sitting on some chat program with my eyes crossing over from staring at a computer or phone screen too long, I was engaging in real-life discussions! You might laugh at it, but it’s amazing how much difference it makes to step away from “social” media and actually have social interactions outside the digital realm. People are living their lives online – with avatars taking over their mortal, physical selves!
Detaching from that is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I’ve opened up more and listened more and learned more – and it’s been a spiritual and cathartic experience. Let’s not forget what you can possibly accomplish in ditching the social media and getting out into the world again. Since I gave it all up, I’ve traveled to 32 countries, launched 2 new blogs (atuktuk.com and fittraveling), established my first company – eTramping – with Cez in Gdańsk, Poland and developed working relationships with 100+ travel brands and tours across the world.
I was on more than 50 flights, drank 1640 liters of water and 783 cups of coffee (but who’s counting), and became my own personal trainer and nutritionist. I even managed a bungee jump and stopped my diet soda addiction. That last one is the most surprising of all! If I’d not given up social media, I’d probably still be sitting in a dark room somewhere, zombified by a computer glare, having not accomplished anything.
A Confusing Paradox
I don’t mean to share this with you now to make anyone feel bad – because that would be defeating the purpose and very confusing! I would just dearly love to encourage and inspire those of you out there who can’t put social media down – or struggle with a more damaging addiction to it – that it is possible to leave it behind and get back to being the you that you desperately want to be.
Did you know that they’ve developed internet addiction clinics in China?! It’s a real problem! We live in an age where this is part and parcel of our lives – but it needn’t control us! Social media does have its place and it’s not all bad! I’ve established some wonderful contacts and friendships during my time dancing across the interwebs, forging lasting connections and enjoying some unforgettable experiences along the way. It just became too draining and it was time for a break. Everything in moderation, right?
Help is at Hand
For those looking to give a social media detox a go, I’m right here to support you. Anyone who is interested in my experience or would like any further help can drop me a line anytime and I will do my best to get back to you. But I wholeheartedly encourage you to try. Start small – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Step away from the computer or leave your phone at home. Go for a walk, see something you’ve never seen, do something you’ve never done. Talk to people and listen to them. If it helps, give your digital devices to someone you trust for a while. Have a member of your family or a good friend deal with them.
Cez became the keeper of my keys when I entrusted him with my social media accounts. At first, he was a little petrified, worried I’d come screaming at him with a knife demanding access to my channels when I had withdrawal symptoms – but everything was fine! Honest! Friends and family should be there to help.
Into the Unknown
So, what about the future? Will I be coming back to social media? The simple answer is yes. Yes, I will. But not anywhere near the quantities of time I was wasting on it, or allowing it to have anywhere near as much impact on my own health and sanity. As I mentioned earlier – everything is fine in moderation and social media has its place. It’s just not going to have the hold on me it had before.
I’ll be keeping my presence there to the bare minimum, because once you stop sharing everything online, switch off your machine, step outside and look up – you really start to appreciate life again.