If I were 18 now I would have ADHD or concentration problems. I would switch between studying and checking my Snapchat every 15 minutes. I would have distorted image of real life. I would believe that the people on Facebook and Instagram have a lot of fun in their real life, and I don’t. I would have distorted image of myself. Well, it was already distorted, so maybe, it would not be that worse)). But my self-esteem would suffer since I would compare myself not to the glossy images on TV, but to “real” images of beauty bloggers of Youtube and those Instagram divas with styled brows, big lips and sexy limbs which they are not shy to show.
Yes, I am talking about the social media and how it changes our ways. I don’t want to make an apocalyptic analysis here, and I don’t want to draw a totally negative picture – I am just really curious about how did happen that we got addicted to sharing, and what does it do to us? I imagined how that would have shaped me when I was growing, and to be honest, I am happy that I grew up in the pre-Internet era. But today’s youth seem to cope with it somehow, and I wonder how they do it. I also wonder how people manage to keep balance in the time when it is so easy to get absorbed into all those distractions. The smartphone is called “A cigarette of modern age” – I find this metaphor aptly as I see the mobile glued to the hand of everyone like a cig was in the movies of 60s. So how do the people cope with this new addiction?
When I talk of “the youth of our days” it makes me feel like I am an old granny (the sentiment I don’t enjoy). But I am no better, really. The day I discover the feature “stories” on Instagram I spend half an hour watching them – like some magical TV, and next day I have to stop myself from grabbing my mobile to snap a pic for stories, like 10 times on a short walk in the neighborhood. I feel like a teenager when it comes to those features. And mind you, I am not on Snapchat – I can only imagine how disturbing it would be for me. And I am 36, not 20 (more experience and critical attitude, thank you). As I see young girls checking their Snapchat every other minute, snapping photos and videos, it makes me kinda dizzy, to be honest. I have this love for zen and balance, and these things make me feel way out of my zen. But maybe, it is just me, and all the rest handle it quite fine?
Last time I was in Barcelona, I saw three rickshaws giving a ride to young girls. The drivers were playing, driving in crazy lines, the girls were screaming, having fun – in the setting of the sun, the palms, the port with the yachts. And at least three girls were holding mobiles out. Right, if you don’t share it, you were not there. But dear, no one really cares about you riding a rickshaw, even in Barcelona, they will watch it and switch to something else. It will not go viral. So put that mobile aside and just take everything in. Maybe, it will never repeat – you, young and laughing, in Barcelona with your girlfriends, those funny guys driving you under the palms. I doubt, that you will watch this video again, after some years it will get lost. But you will always have the moment in your memory – so soak it in!
So here is my question: what does sharing do with our perception? Do we have to divide everything in two: one part for our own experience, one part for sharing? As I wrote this question on my other blog, one of my friends shared a story. She lives in France, and her cousin was visiting her for a couple of days. All those days were busy with photos, photos, photos – taking as many as possible. And when others pointed out to the absurdity of situation, she would reply: “You don’t understand, I do it for you!” It was all about picking the locations that would look best in pictures, changing clothes in the car “cuz I cannot be in the same outfit in every pic!”. As my friend recalls, her visitor was not present, not at all (and she was not a teenager, but a girl in her thirties). And then you look at her Instagram feed and say: “Wow, such a rich life! So many experiences!”
I don’t want to blame social media – it is us people who are using them that way. And I am personally thankful to Instagram because on a grey October day when I was sick, it gave me inspiration and made me go out and look for beauty. I thought that I have to live in Paris or London in order to find many pretty things – but when I started to look around, I found a lot of beauty around me. In Oslo, which I used to view through kind of negative lenses, thinking that this city has no surprises for me. But it had, and still has. Because when you set out searching for beauty – you will find it. But then there are such things as likes and followers, popular accounts and numbers… Honestly, I would hide all those numbers. The number of likes and followers – I would make it visible only to the owner. Because we others don’t need them – or do we? They only kindle the spirit of competition in us, and then it results in envy, weird promotion strategies, mass following, comments made by robots, making money on follower-growing. Really, do we need it? Numbers don’t inspire. The beauty inspires – the numbers don’t.
Last week I read an article about a health coach, an Instagram ifluencer with 325k followers, and her experience of walking away from all social media for a month. She tells how she started her account for sharing a process with its ups and downs, helping others and inspiring them – but ended up caught in numbers and caring about how she looked in pictures. And how this detox changed her perspective on using the social media. Another great point she makes is that we get so used to stimulate ourselves constantly that we never allow ourselves to be bored. And being bored with yourself is important for living a happy and fulfilling life, she says. I didn’t understand why. But I found it out when I tried a day of social media detox.
I was talking and talking about the digital detox for months and wrote it in my resolutions for 2017. But nothing was happening. And after reading that article I said to myself: “OK, you are doing it. NOW. No more excuses”. As I found out, being everyday on IG is really not that important. And being bored with yourself is really important. Because as I got that extra hour (hours?) I use on social media – and no stimulation – I got inspired to do other things. To read a book, to write a journal, to review my wardrobe. It was just one Sunday – and it was a great day. I now hope to stick to the routine of doing digital detox every week. It feels so refreshing to walk away for one day. It hadn’t looked to me that way before, I thought: “I am not really in need of it – I am not that obsessed”. But you know, excuses aside, we all need it (except for those who use telephone only for calls and answering messages). No mail, no messenger, no IG, no FB, no Snapchat. Only you and people around you. And life as it is.
I would really appreciate your thoughts about the matter. How do you handle your life-media balance? Do you have some tricks? And for those of you with children: what do you want to teach them about using social media?