I have had a love/hate relationship with social media over the years.
Sometimes there wasn’t an hour that went by that I wasn’t checking instagram. Or I could lose 20, 30, 40 minutes to mindlessly scrolling through Twitter. In business, I would proudly share my social media marketing knowledge and insights.
I’ve paid for courses. I’ve learnt all the tricks of the trade. I’ve tried all the platforms.
And now I’ve quit*.
It’s usual when looking for a photographer to check out what they posted on social media. You’ll find beautiful curated highlights on Instagram and captivating posts over on Facebook. You might think it’s an outrageous idea to be a photographer and not have a presence on social media but it’s something I have come to firmly believe in.
You won’t find my business on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook now.
I’ve left them all and I’m so much happier for it.
FALLING INTO THE COMPARISON TRAP
For me, Instagram had become a place where everyday I fell into the comparison trap, my creativity was stifled and I was wracked with self-doubt. Rather than thinking about the images that I wanted to create, all the stories I want to tell, I would be thinking about what would do well on the ‘gram. My Facebook page would go for weeks without a post because I had no love for it and it would constantly be nagging me in the back of my mind that I wasn’t doing enough. That I wasn’t enough.
In the past I have tried short month-long detoxes, these had a definite effect but after a few weeks back on social media the positive ‘afterglow’ had waned. It’s only now that I have fully quit these channels and have no intention of going back that I feel free of them. I am carving out a new way of running my business in a way that feels fully aligned with my values.
I’m not saying that all social media is bad. I’m saying that it’s better to be aware and informed and able to make conscious and intentional choices. For me social media had become so much about the things I ‘should’ be doing and constantly feeling like I was being left behind. Or that I wasn’t enough.
CARRYING A CONSTANT DISTRACTION
Now I feel free to focus on the things I truly want to concentrate on. Rather than kidding myself that I’m learning from a snapshot on social media, I can take the time I’m to truly explore and understand a subject.
For me it was all too easy to lose fifteen minutes, half an hour, even an hour before realizing all I had been doing was doom scrolling away. Sometimes I could convince myself that I was educating myself, that I was doing the necessary work in my life but social media is not the work. Following, liking, commenting or posting is not the work and it’s not where the magic happens. It’s not where I can truly improve and it’s not where I can make a difference.
Social media can be a great place to be introduced to a cause or a topic but it is all too easy to think that reading a short caption on a social media post is enough. I enjoy going deep on a subject. I am undeniably a nerd, I love a good book and I binge long form podcasts. To learn, to understand and to process, I need more than just 280 characters.
We live in a world where the lines between our personal, our professional, our public and our private lives are blurry. Holding back some of myself from the internet feels like a good choice for me and my family. For so long I had believed the hype from influencers that I needed to sell myself as ‘my brand’ on social media. I needed to share all the intimate details of my life for people to connect with me, believe in me and support my work but it comes at a price. Yes, I do believe I made some great connections on these platforms and I know my words had resonance when I spoke with truth and candor but I don’t want to sell myself to today’s social media companies. I don’t want them to be the gatekeepers to my connections and community.
For creatives and the self employed, I feel this unhealthy obsession with creating a personal brand around yourself is particularly an issue. There is a demand for authenticity but ironically that demand can create the very thing that stifles that authenticity. The boundaries between personal and work are very hard to maintain. Phones are designed to have and hold attention and are straight up designed to be addictive!
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
The biggest shift in my life in recent years has been becoming a mother. It has been a process of losing myself but also a journey of redefining and rediscovering myself. I am now led by my desire to show up in the world as the person I truly want my son to see. That desire drives me to live a life fully aligned with my values.
I couldn’t control the addictive nature of social media and I was all too aware of how little my phone left my hand. I do not want that for my son. Whilst right now he is still only small, I want to lead the way for him to be curious, to have a life of adventure and to have the opportunity for outdoor exploration. If I don’t want him to be obsessed with his phone, I can’t be obsessed with mine. I am driven to lead by example.
Since making this change, I’ve loved the benefits it’s brought to my life. I find I’m less anxious and more mindful, intentional and focused. I’m spending less time on my phone (although there’s still work for me to do as it’s all too easy to replace the distraction of social media with some other app or news feed) and more time on reading, deep learning and listening to podcasts. Now, my creativity is a personal exploration, being driven by the sheer joy of it.
Whether or not this is a lasting change, I can’t be sure. But for now, it sure feels great.
*Full disclosure, I will admit to still having a personal Facebook profile. That is something I’m working on. As I have recently relocated back to the UK, I have found Facebook very helpful for finding out about my local area. I’m also in a fantastic mentoring group. Things like that, that are genuinely useful, aren’t easy to let go of. I am definitely looking into alternatives and open to any suggestions from anyone else who’s Facebook free entirely.
Since you won’t be finding my business on social media, you might be interesting in signing up to my mailing list to hear about any news from me or my latest offerings!