One of my friends has been experimenting with going off Facebook for a while. I know a few others who have gone off it entirely too. These friends aren’t abandoning social media altogether; they’re still active on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. They haven’t completely shut down their profiles, but are just deliberately choosing not to spend time on Facebook for various reasons.
I must admit the idea is becoming more appealing and it’s got me thinking about how and why I use Facebook. That might sound odd, coming from someone who mostly does love using it and runs a number of pages for her different pursuits. I enjoy the conversations that can be had on just about anything. I (mostly) like seeing what people are up to. I’m part of a few different groups that are great little supportive communities. I like cat videos.
But I do find I spend a lot of time there even there’s nothing new to see, just scrolling through, refreshing the page, over and over. If my mood is even a little low, a long time on Facebook can leave me irritable, covetous, insecure and discontent. A lot of the time I’m vaguely bored.
I feel as though my addiction to social media has also played a large part in the dwindling of my creativity’s attention span. I find it harder these days to really stick at and develop ideas, to let the creative process bubble and brew. I find that instead I crave the instant feedback of social media more and more in relation to things that I make. The BHB Retreat in Bali last year was just marvellous for rebooting that part of my brain; I was still online in the evenings, writing blog posts and seeing what was happening back home, but for a whole week I was offline all day and face to face with a group of other people who were also offline. Present. Creating things. Exploring ideas. Connecting. It was bliss.
With the way I’ve set up my businesses, and working as a sole trader on a shoestring budget, social media and being online is vital. There’s not really any other way to reach people effectively, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do so. And as an energy-limited introvert, being able to keep in touch with people and do so many things from the quiet privacy of my own home is wonderful. I love the internet! I love social media!
But I think maybe I need to start building offline time into my week and sticking to it. Time where I can create art for my own enjoyment, not as a commodity or as something I am expecting to broadcast online (though I reserve the right to do so… 😛 ). Time where I don’t feel the pressure of ‘always on’, of having to come up with content, of being behind the eight ball. Time where reactions can take a while, instead of being instant (and sometimes ill-advised).
Inadvertently, I already had one of those days recently. On Friday I spent the day mostly offline, except for little blips, giving massages at a women’s ministry retreat (The Garden Studio goes mobile!). It was a gloriously sunny day in a stunning location, down at Simpson Cottage at Bundeena (pictured above). I was doing physical work, not sitting in front of a screen. I was connecting with people, putting my energy into helping them relax. When I came back to my computer at the end of the day and caught up on the day, it was actually interesting and enjoyable, and I spent maybe half an hour online and then went off to do something else. I enjoyed the time I spent on Facebook, but I didn’t feel the need to spend any longer on it.
I’ve heard of people doing digital sabbaths. That could be the way to go. One day a week of not being connected. Or perhaps I should factor in more retreaty kind of holidays once a quarter where I am offline for a week, and see what comes out.
I don’t think I need to cut the cords necessarily. Just unplug them more often.