Hello online world. I want to start by thanking you all so much for your patience… I know it’s been forever since I’ve published any content on here! I want to devote a lot more of my time writing, editing and loving my blog again, so I thought why not speak on something that I’ve begun to do religiously this year?
You’re probably intrigued from my title for this blog post and to be honest so am I. I’ve been thinking for a while about this thing that we call ‘the internet’. According to the NHS, 91% of 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK use the internet and other social networking sites regularly. I have come to the understanding that unless you know how to manoeuvre and not be so consumed by what you see and hear online, it can be really challenging to deal with digital life day-to-day.
A lot of people around me have been feeling uneasy with the content they’re exposed to and the very fast-paced internet world we now live in. We have become so desensitised to what we see due to information constantly being thrown at us and our minds not being able to process anything properly. It’s become so harmful that we are seeing a massive rise in mental health problems stimulated by negative online content and internet trolling.
*TW: Nipsey Hussle’s death hit us all in different ways, I’m sure we can all agree. For me, what I found very difficult (and still do) is the “let’s take our phones out and record people suffering for clout” culture. We’ve all seen it. One moment I am on Twitter minding my own business and then I see people retweeting and sharing videos of Nipsey dying on the floor. It’s crazy that no one even thought “Let me not share this… that’s somebody’s son” or “This is too much, let me just report these posts altogether.” The weird concept of doing anything to get the most retweets and views just isn’t it. People don’t call for help anymore, we just pick up our phones and start recording people who are in an embarrassing situation, in pain or are dying.
At the beginning of last month, I asked loads of people to send me their opinion of social media, how it’s helpful and what we can do as a community to make it a safer space, and the feedback I got has been spectacular so I wanted to share a few:
“Social Media is an equal mix of new connections and a vital support mechanism for me as it is a gallery full of people living disingenuous lives whilst trying to make you jealous about the way they’re supposedly living theirs.”
“I usually take a break when I find myself checking my socials obsessively and getting down when I don’t receive the likes I want or when I see other people’s “perfect” lives. I would definitely remove all the discrimination on social media (it shouldn’t even be here in the first place), and I’d make online content less fabricated and more real, and make it a lot nicer. I feel like people nowadays clap back and cancel just for the fun of it, and I’m definitely guilty in revelling in that.”
“I love social media, it’s my way of connecting with people, showing my work. It has become a modern day CV. I guess people use social media for different things but for me I definitely like to find the balance between my work and my personal life. Sometimes it gets really overwhelming especially on Twitter as you’re reading peoples thoughts and opinions on things without even considering your own”
“For those of us from the LGBTQ+ community, particularly those of us who are Black or POC, social media can become a safe haven where we can exist loudly, share our experiences and connect with people who just ‘get it’. That is one of the best things with social media. However, seeing trauma reposted and shared on the timeline, no matter what social media platform that may be, can really impact me as it does many people. One second you can be looking at a makeup look and next second see a video of police brutality or homophobic assault and it’s hard to see. Like really hard to see…”
I was experiencing unbearable digital overload for the very first time… and that’s when I decided to delete Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram off of all my electronic devices.
At first, I thought coming off social media was going to be really hard as I have experienced really bad separation anxiety from my mobile phone in the past. I didn’t like to be away from my phone for too long as I was convinced that something bad was going to happen or that I was going to miss a call or message from someone who was urgently trying to contact me.
I guess it all came at the best time, as I took over a week out to a lovely island called Madeira. I connected with nature, found my love for travelling, spent QUALITY time with my parents and was very present in the moment. I made a promise to myself to not go on social media at all and whilst I was away I didn’t as they were deleted off of my phone! By doing this, I didn’t have the urge to check my phone 24/7 to see how many likes I got on a post, I didn’t want to see what was going on in the world or whose lives I was looking at on these apps I used every single day. The worrying went away completely. Digital detoxing is so essential for your growth, and when I got back to the UK I made changes pretty much instantly.
I started again. Yes, I made the bold move to delete my Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook accounts and made new ones. Why? Many reasons actually. These three social networking sites overwhelmed me the most. I wasn’t filtering what I was in control of seeing and I had a lot of people on there that I rather didn’t know very well or who I believe was really negative. Quality over quantity is so important. People would say well why didn’t you just go through your followers and filter through it that way? My answer to that is – 1) time consuming and 2) I didn’t care at this point that I had over 2.5k followers or hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook and Snapchat, because the people that I was following and those who were following me weren’t fulfilling or benefiting me in any way. The ideology of me starting again felt great for me because I chose to have full control over my life again by protecting my space online and off.
On Instagram, I started my digital detoxing process by unfollowing and muting people. I began to follow more positive accounts, deleted apps that showed who unfollowed me as I didn’t want to develop an obsessive habit of checking those apps constantly throughout the day.
I turned off all notifications from social media apps on my phone, so I did not check it constantly and this enabled me to focus more on what I was doing, whether at work or at home. I told myself “if somebody really needs to get a hold of me, they will turn up to my house or contact my parents” so that helped me more with not having that worrying thought of what I mentioned earlier.
I’ve also got the ‘Manage Your Time’ setting on Instagram, where it alerts me only whilst I’m on the app when I’ve spent more than an hour on it (that’s the time limit I’ve given myself and I think an hour a day is more than enough ‘intertnetting’.)
For Twitter, I followed people who I know very well, who’s content I enjoyed looking at and who had very interactive, positive posts about things I was very interested in. Twitter has a brilliant feature where you can put words in your settings that you do not want to see on your timeline – which I utilise a lot in order to make my timeline ‘healthier’ per se.
Lastly, living in the moment away from the phone is crucial. We are all guinea pigs to this digital world we are experiencing. We can’t control it all, but we can control ourselves and put things in place in order to keep our spaces online and in our mind safe.
It’s valuable to detox off of social media and connect with the world instead.