Give Me A Break
Right, in this post I am going to expose myself slightly, so there's no need for you to grab a snack before you start reading because you are in for a treat.
After returning from my year abroad – I’m so sorry, I will stop mentioning it eventually, I promise – my life was slightly chaotic. Coming back and starting over was wonderful in many ways, but reorganising my life and catching up with everyone definitely took up the bigger share of my time. I was constantly meeting up with all the people I hadn’t seen in a long time and then moved into a new place and started a full-time internship on the same day, which simply didn't allow for as much time to spend on my phone as I was used to. One mustn’t forget that during lockdown, I had loads of time on my hands to just bum around and do nothing except sleeping in, ordering domino's for every meal of the day and drinking loads of cheap wine, all while checking my phone every three minutes. The turn my life took when I came back and suddenly had an actual life again was therefore somewhat striking!
I am currently one month into my new job, and the social-media-dry-phase is still continuing. I’m still online but I definitely invest a lot less time in posting and messaging, which honestly feels so refreshing and relaxing. Social media undoubtably has its good sides, but it also has the potential to suck you into a vortex of self-doubt and addiction, which isn’t a very healthy combination, if you ask me.
To illustrate the extent of my social-media-usage a little, I want to share with you this quick and easy step-by-step instruction on how to create posts on Instagram that I usually follow:
First, you do your makeup for fun and not to go out because, you know, why the fuck not. This should take about 1 hour.
Then you take approximately 85 selfies, but you should make sure to allow for a short break in-between because your arm will start hurting eventually. 20 minutes gone.
The next step is to look through the presumably abysmal photos you have just taken of yourself and then have a mild breakdown because you’re incapable of taking just one decent picture of yourself. 2 minutes looking through photos, 18-minute breakdown.
After that, you will take about 25 more selfies, just to be entirely sure you have made the absolute most of the one hour you previously spent doing your makeup. Only 10 minutes here.
Now you want to start combing through all of the, by now, 110 pictures. They basically all look the same, but you will spend about 15 minutes picking the right one, nonetheless.
Then the editing process starts. 4 apps later and after comparing your picture to your feed multiple times to make sure you get the colour scheme right, about 45 minutes will have passed.
The final step is to upload your masterpiece to Instagram (which you will soon delete again when you reach the decision it's ugly after all), and I suggest you put something like “effortless glam” to really undermine the fact that you're not some freak who spends hours curating their feed. After that you will of course be spending loads of time checking in on your post and get absolutely pissed off if it's not doing well. This will probably take up the rest of your day.
And here is a shameful proof of the above mentioned.
Honestly mental how much time I can spend on a single post, a digital unit made of pixels, which is going under among millions of thousands of the other pictures that are being uploaded every minute. We shan't forget, however, that, of course, I’m slightly exaggerating for illustration purposes and that the whole process is still fun to me because, to be honest, I love both the gram and doing my makeup. But it also shows what a huge time-waster social media can be when you could use that time to do things where effort and the resulting amount of joy are actually in proportion.
There’s nothing wrong with spending time on Instagram (and networks of the sort), but I think it’s a good idea to plug off sometimes and make yourself aware of the suction social media creates - especially if you're a very active user. In my case, that break happened rather involuntarily, but I'm thankful it did because the time I spent offline rather than obsessively checking the same three apps in regular intervals throughout the day really was a breath of fresh air.
After lockdown, where my phone was the only access I had to social interaction of any kind, it was great to go into the opposite direction for some time, and it made me realise that my phone should be merely a part of my leisure time, not take it up fully. WhatsApp, and messaging apps in general, can have a similar impact as social networks: the obligation we feel to be available every second of the day is ridiculous. We shouldn't have to give reasons for not wanting to reply straight away. Send me an email or a letter instead, I'll get back to you.
I wanted to capture this newfound feeling of freedom and the benefits of temporarily ditching the phone once in a while because I know that when I will have found a routine again, I will also start using my socials more. When that happens, I will go back to this post, read it again - hopefully not declare it total rubbish - and be reminded of the easing effect of being offline and not having to panic because my phone is running out of battery.
Movie recommendation to this post: The Social Dilemma on Netflix