Social media has copped a lot of criticism over 2015. Adding my voice to this outcry would perhaps paint me as outdated. So let’s get better aquatinted.
I bring to this story a whole lot of enthusiasm for the internet. To some extent, social media has allowed me to make a living from what I love and to work from over six continents.
Yet I have decided to start 2016 with a social media detox. I have come to realize that it’s a fine line between fever pitch and boiling point. My social media habits had boiled over.
Here is a step by step guide to starting the new year with a fresh approach to your online tendencies. One that doesn’t complete cut this useful tool from your life, but will help you to integrate it into a conscious and mindful lifestyle.
Step 1: Go Cold Turkey.
Step away from social media for a week. Take a break to make untracable memories.
The concept of a detox has become synonymous with the idea of going without. This doesn’t have to be the case. Think of your social media detox as a time of indulgence rather than abstinence.
Dedicate a little more of yourself and your time to the things that make you happy. Indulge your senses and your sense of adventure. This could mean taking the time to cook a tasty meal, catching up with an old friend, picking up your guitar or simply showering in the dark.
Step 2: Try The 8-8 Rule.
After one week with no social media, check in with yourself. How do you feel? You might find you are ready to dive back into the internet. My advice: try dipping your toe into the proverbial waters first. This is where most people go astray with their detox - it can create an all or nothing attitude to unhealthy habits.
Try starting with the 8-8 rule: going without a screen between 8pm and 8am. This can help reestablish a good relationship with your partner and your sleep. It's common knowledge that staring at a screen before bed contributes to interrupted sleep. The eight to eight rule lets you wind down at night and make a conscious start to your day.
Step 3: Be Discerning.
“You only have so much emotional energy each day. Don’t spend it on things that don’t matter or people who don’t value your time. Be discerning” - Di Riseborough
Once you return to social media, be mindful of the energy that this opens you up to. Chase the positive vibes. Cut the negative. Aspiration is good but if you are following someone who’s content regularly makes you feel jealous, eliminate it. It sounds brutal but 'unfollow' anyone who doesn’t add to your wellbeing. Choose the energy that you bring into your day.
Step 4: Live on the edge.
To some extent we have lost the sense of innovation that made social media so exciting in the first place.
Ask around about who your friends have discovered online. You will find a whole heap of people who use social media in completely refreshing ways. Take Caroline Calloway, who recently landed a huge book deal after using Instagram as a space to write her memoirs. Look up Luke Shadbolt, whose dreamy surf photography takes the art into new creative territory.
Step 5: Create.
You might complain, as many do, that social media is narcissistic vacuum. Complaining does not help. Here’s what you can do: Raise the common denominator, don’t meet it. Create the kind of content that you would like to see. Tweet what would make you laugh, share the quote that get’s you thinking.
Work actively to make social media what you want to be. Social networks are so often touted as a democratizing force, the modern equivalent to the Athenian polis. It’s true that you have a voice. So use it.