I Quit Social Media (the 'one month in' update)
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
A few weeks ago, I decided to leave social media behind. Well at least the big three, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Lots of people have been asking me how I am getting on, so I wanted to do this vlog & blog to let you know!
The First Week
The first week's awesome. I left socials and entered a honeymoon period. I was finally free! I could think more clearly. I became more present... But after a week I started to think, "Ok, what's going on that I don't know about?" I'm going through a bit of the old FOMO at the moment. I'm scared of what I might be missing... social events, work opportunities, announcements, but am I'm hoping this phase will pass.
Reminding Myself Why I Left
Despite this I'm not tempted to go back, but I have just watched a few YouTube videos by people who've done it too, to see if they have any tips. Julia Bausenhardt is an illustrator and in one of her videos, she hit the nail on the head. She said whilst scrolling, we're fed a constant flow of information, differing opinions, news, often stuff we're not choosing to see. For many (me included), this creates a massive sense of overwhelm.
We don't have time to process a lot of what we see but it's going in anyway, seeping into our brains, and a lot of it is pretty negative. Occasionally I'd find something useful, an event I didn't know was going on or a fellow creative to follow. I'd then feel like I was getting a reward and that I was using it for work and it was fine again, but really it wasn't.
This decision has been a long time coming for me (about 12 months). Using social media, particularly for my business, had become all-consuming. I was posting and then I'd want to engage with the people commenting. Because I'm a photographer people want to get to know me and develop trust, and often the best way to do that is to have conversations.
But really, if I'm completely honest, most of my work so far has come via other channels; word of mouth, personally speaking to people etc. - it wasn't through social media.
I now want to look at alternative ways to meet and engage with people, hopefully in a more meaningful way.
So How's It Going So Far?
One of the biggest things I've experienced far is a sense of calm. I found that straight away, I had more headspace. I wasn't having to check socials multiple times a day, and my brain wasn't pulled in as many different directions: "Should I be replying to someone? posting something? Saying something witty?" If my socials aren't there anymore, nor is the need to engage with them.
I can get on with my work tasks more easily now. If I've got a to-do list, then I can get through it. I can deal with things one at a time and I'm not procrastinating as much because previously, if I had a big piece of work that I didn't want to get stuck into, I'd often just use social media as an excuse. Usually these pieces of work aren't as onerous as we expect!
It's so lovely to be able to engage with people one by one. If people contact me now, it's usually via my website. I am still on LinkedIn too because I find it useful, and I don't experience the same sense of overwhelm and unease on there. I'm also making more of an effort to speak to people face to face. I can really listen to them and find out what they need, giving them my full attention. I'm not constantly thinking, "who else do I need to reply to?", trying to spin loads of plates.
Is This Forever?
It's very early days though, obviously. I'll see the full impact of my new efforts and any potential negative impact of coming off social media, in the months to come. I'm not somebody who says "this is forever" because I think that's foolish to say that about anything.
I'm just going to see how it goes. It's an experiment, but so far it's working for me. I'm not saying it's for everyone either. I'm definitely not preaching, just sharing my experience.
I have the tendency to take on a lot of other people's opinions and thoughts and information. So for me, I struggled with social media, but if you are super-boundaried and can just use it for your business for example, then brilliant (and I'm very envious), but I'm not one of those people.
As I've said before, I'm looking into other options in terms of developing my website, looking at my mailing list and newsletter and information that goes out that way, and opportunities to speak to people face to face. Collaboration is also key (thanks so much to Jane Binnion who recently asked me to write a piece for her Lancaster Guardian column).
I've also got to acknowledge that I probably used socials during the pandemic more than I intended to, because using digital ways to connect became the norm. But now, I'm ready to give the social media-free life a whirl.
So if you have any tips to get through this first few months, I would LOVE to hear them, and do let me know if you have any questions for me.
* I mentioned illustrator Julia Bausenhardt - here is one of her fab videos about leaving socials as a creative.
** I also want to give a shout out to Vicky Shilling, who run's a month-long online course called 'Marketing Without Social Media'. This course has come along at THE perfect time for me. Check it out if you're thinking of giving socials the boot too.
*** This video by Elizabeth Olsen about quitting Instagram is a good watch too and reflects some of what I felt (on a smaller scale though I'm sure!)