Ever considered a break from the little online world in your phone? Find out how taking time away from social media can help grow your creativity
Why we all need to take a digital detox
Social media makes us feel connected. It’s where we go to vent, to get inspired and to find like-minded creatives. You’re never alone with all those internet friends popping up on the screen all the time, always there. For some, that’s incredibly reassuring. The flipside? Social media is a hungry beast and it’s hard – sometimes almost impossible – to stop feeding it, let alone take a break from it.
“Social media apps are like junk food,” believes Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up With Your Phone. “They’re fun to indulge in once in a while, but it’s easy to cross the line from fun to feeling gross.” And, just like junk food, it’s important to notice how you genuinely feel after the initial buzz of using social apps. “Do they energise you? When you finish, do you feel good? Where’s your personal line from feeling good to feeling gross?” asks Catherine.
Someone who noticed exactly this is Blogtacular director, Kat Molesworth ( www.blogtacular.com). “Having joined Instagram when it came out, by 2017 I was posting daily without fail. Gradually I began to notice that my emotions were tangled up in the reactions my photos elicited within the app. Add to that the uneasy mix of FOMO and comparison, I knew it wasn’t healthy for me any longer.” What Kat describes is familiar to many of us, and is mainly due to the dopamine hit our brains get when the likes and follows roll in (or don’t). But while we can’t a!ect the impact social media apps have on our neurology, we can look at how we choose to use them.
If it feels impossible to cut that connection and take a break, then surely there’s a compelling argument for switching o! completely. But what if the online world forgets about us if we’re gone for too long? “I cut back how often I posted, and stopped looking at the app daily,” shares Kat. “While it was a wrench at first because many of my online friendships existed on Insta, as time wore on I was enjoying working on my images for myself once more. Removed from the constant cycle of scrolling and comparing, I was more relaxed and present.” What Kat noticed is pretty key. Yes, the potential is there for us to lose followers while we’re away, but the benefits far outweigh any costs.
Kym Grimshaw is a photographer, stylist and blogger ( www.ontheplate.co.uk). “I was forced to unplug for a week on a round trip of the Scottish Highlands (no signal!) and that’s when I first noticed the di!erence,” she explains. “I felt present, more engaged in conversation – like my senses were heightened. A whole lot calmer, too. When I’m on holiday now I go completely cold turkey, delete all the o!ending apps o! my phone, remove all temptation! It doesn’t just serve me well at the time but I come back with more creative energy and new ideas to put out.”
Catherine agrees. “Your phone is not a source of pleasure that you’re denying yourself. It’s an obstacle that is getting in the way of what you actually want to accomplish. In other words, by using your phone less, you’re giving yourself more time to do what you care about.” And if what you care about is being creative, then just think how much inspiration is currently ebbing away while you’re scrolling.
Another regular digital detoxer is Natasha Denness, a creative life and business coach ( www.candypop. uk.com). For Natasha, “spending time o"ine enables me to develop ideas and to check I’m working towards my goals, free from the distraction of other people’s journeys. It also helps me to restore the balance, which encourages me to use the internet in a more intentional way on my return.”
And it’s those small every day moments that make up our lives. American novelist James Salter wrote: “Life is weather. Life is meals. Lunches on a blue checked cloth on which salt has spilled. The smell of tobacco. Brie, yellow apples, wood-handled knives.” Notice them, commit them to memory – just try doing it with your eyes, not your device. You’ll be surprised at how much more you begin to see, and what ideas will bubble to the surface when you have a little more headspace to let them flow.